Second language varieties of English

Devyani Sharma

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

 Second language varieties of English

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  • Linguistics
  • Language Acquisition
  • Historical and Diachronic Linguistics


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In postcolonial regions, English is widely used as a second language (L2). Some L2 varieties in postcolonial regions (e.g. Tanzania, India) and contiguous regions (e.g. Nepal, Sri Lanka) are currently undergoing indigenization without significantly displacing local languages and lingua francas, while others (e.g. Singapore) are starting to shift towards greater numbers of native speakers, moving closer to the native end of a continuum of language shift. This article examines the historical development of L2 varieties of the English language and the social, historical, and linguistic factors that account for their distinctive characteristics. The focus is on societal indigenization in situations of English as a Second Language rather than English as a Foreign Language. The discussion draws parallels between the impact of adult L2 use on language change in contemporary postcolonial Englishes and L2-driven change in the history of English in Britain and the United States.

Keywords: English; English as a Second Language; second language acquisition; language change; history; Britain; United States; indigenization; World Englishes; contact; linguistics

Article.  3988 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Language Acquisition ; Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

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