Contact in the Asian arena

Lisa Lim and Umberto Ansaldo

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of English

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199922765
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Contact in the Asian arena


A consideration of the Asian region in the history of English must view the element of contact in multilingual contexts as probably the most significant phenomenon affecting the development of English. Several critical factors of contact prompting rethinking what “the English language” has become are discussed, viz. changes in different eras in the sociopolitical contexts, the diversity of vernaculars in Asia that have come into contact with English, the range of input varieties, and the general context of multilingualism. Linguistic features which are shared across a number of Asian languages and which look set to continue their influence on English are highlighted: zero copula, predicative adjectives and topic prominence, discourse particles, and tone. Finally, two contemporary and significant trends in Asia – the rapid spread of English in noncolonial Asian countries, and globalization phenomena such as electronic media, global music, and call centre outsourcing – are also noted for their contribution to contact dynamics and their subsequent impact on the continuing development of English.

Keywords: Asia; English; Asian Englishes; Outer Circle; language contact; multilingualism; colonization; substrates; typology; particles; tone; linguistics; globalization

Article.  4667 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Language Families

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