What are the Effects of the World-Wide Spread of English?


"I have no accord with the desire expressed...that by any mode whatever there should be an attempt made to oppress the one language or to render it inferior to the other; I believe that would be impossible...and it would be foolish and wicked if it were possible."

John A. Macdonald (1815 - 1891)

There are many implications of the world-wide spread of English. In the first place, we can talk of many world varieties of English such as British English, American English, Canadian English, Australian English, Indian English, Nigerian English, Ghanaian English, and South African English to mention just a few. Thus, while English remains one language; it has developed many geographical varieties or dialects.

Language generally is sensitive to its environment. So with the English Language leaving its native home, it has to take on some other characteristics peculiar to its new environments. These characteristics reflect mostly in vocabulary and pronunciation. In terms of vocabulary, words are borrowed from the indigenous languages e.g. the word “bungalow” taken from the Hindi word “bungali” 18th century borrow; the word “Oba”(king) borrowed from the Yoruba language; “canoe”, “squash” borrowed from Indian languages etc. Another common development is the use of existing English words in a different way. An example is “corn” in American English to mean “maize” (corn in British English refers to wheat, barley, oats etc). Thus, “maize” entered British English to refer to what Americans call “corn”. In addition, new words and expressions are coined to express new realities. Examples are “chewing stick”, “bush–meat”, been-tos”, “long-leg” etc in Nigerian English. In terms of pronunciation, peculiar characteristics can also be observed. For example, in American English there is the retention of final and/or pre-consonantal /r/ as in “farmer”, “car”.

In Indian English, the influence of the mother tongue is notable in the aspect of pronunciation, particularly in the treatment of those vowels which are absent in indigenous Indian languages. In such a situation, there is the phenomenon of sound substitution. Also, variations are notable in prosodic units e.g. stress, rhythm and intonation.

Ardhendu De
 Ardhendu De


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