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Lingua Franca English

The Role of Simplification and Transfer


Yvonne Dröschel Shaham

Questions of how to access and analyze the use of English as a global language are central to the study of the continuing spread of English as a vehicle of cross-cultural communication. The present book explores the relationship between the functions and forms of English as a Lingua Franca, and introduces the concept of Lingua Franca English to deal with the systematic differences between national native varieties of English and the non-native varieties which have developed relatively recently. The investigation of the sociolinguistic and linguistic processes involved in the development of Lingua Franca English focuses on Switzerland, and is carried out by means of a detailed comparative linguistic analysis of a large amount of data obtained from written and spoken English produced by Swiss speakers. The result is a detailed and critical description of current issues affecting the study of English as an international language, and a thorough investigation of the ongoing processes resulting from the interaction of Swiss people with different language backgrounds in shaping the nature of the English spoken in Switzerland. By examining the characteristics of English as it is used in Switzerland, light is shed on the diachronic problem of the focusing mechanisms involved in the growth of non-native varieties of English and processes of second language acquisition generally.


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1. Introduction 19


19 1. Introduction The continuing spread of English worldwide and its ever increasing importance as a vehicle of cross-cultural communication is a pheno- menon that has been given increasing attention in the last decades and has been documented from various aspects. Even though neither the spread of English which began with the large-scale migration of na- tive English speakers to America and Australasia (the first diaspora) at the beginning of the 17th century and continued with the coloniza- tion of Africa and Asia (the second diaspora), nor the use of a lan- guage as a lingua franca are new phenomena, the spread of English in terms of scale, rate and degree is unprecedented (Crystal 1997; Graddol 1997; Fishman 1982). Within little more than 500 years, the number of English speakers has grown from an estimated four million speak- ers around 1500 (Jespersen 1938/68, quoted in Pennycook 1994: 7) to almost two billion speakers at the end of the 20th century (Pennycook 1994: 7; Crystal 1997: 61; Graddol 1997: 10; Jenkins 2003: 2). The fact that today hundreds of millions of people around the globe use English as an additional language is bound to have far- reaching consequences in many respects. The use of English as a language for international communication in the 20th century has added to the difficulty of categorising the world’s Englishes and the ques- tion of how to deal with differences between national ‘standard’ vari- eties of English and the emergence of new varieties, especially in sociolinguistic...

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