The Role of Simplification and Transfer
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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