English as a lingua franca

Speakers not learners
Anna Mauranen University of Helsinki
Taiwan, 28.08.2007

“English is by far the most widespread lingua franca. […] Many of the people who use English… have no opportunity (and often no desire) to practice by talking to native speakers of English.”
(Thomason 2001)

English today
Spoken more widely as a L2 than as a L1 The ratio of non-native to native speakers estimated at 4:1 Most commonly without natives present In international politics, transnational companies, sports, entertainment, transport, travel, tourism…

-> spread and position of English largely in the hands of non-native speakers But Applied Linguistics still tends to divide the world into ‘natives’ and ‘learners’ ELF is received with mixed feelings the language professions

the ‘radical wing’: English as the “killer language” which wipes out other languages no matter which English – it’s a threat
(Phillipson, Pennycook, Skutnabb-Kangas…)

the ‘conservative wing’: we must not let go of the native speaker ideal or else all standards and comprehensibility go down the drain;

English as a lingua franca (ELF)
Lingua franca: a vehicular language spoken by interlocutors who do not share a first language - embodies our postmodern, transcultural world where people are increasingly plurilingual

Corpus of English as a Lingua Franca in Academic Settings (ELFA)
www.uta.fi/laitokset/kielet/engf/research/elfa/ 0.8 million transcribed words Ultimate target 1.0 mio words, soon transcribed academic speech events: seminars, lectures, conference presentations, student presentations, thesis defences, workshops… -‘external’ criteria; ‘folk genres’ - over 40 L1s - recorded at the universities of Tampere and Helsinki, and the Technological universities of Tampere and Helsinki

- mainly degree programs run in English - focus on dialogic events (2/3) - no FL classes, no events with shared L1 - no native speaker monologues, but NS participate in groups

Speakers
not “learners” well educated plurilingual with L1-based ‘dialects’ (not means of communication shared by a speech community, but idiolects with a group resemblance) - of variable proficiency

ELFA corpus Fluent speaker ...the UN just messes it all up , and ends up with the total noncommittal document you know with a long list of all kinds of things that may have to be done which no-one will understand with no signature from civil society so that citizen in the world you know will feel why would they take this seriously because this has got nothing to do with them i think then we do a real step backwards then we have to do all the work all over again missed opportunity … Less fluent speaker

… er and er but today i'm going to speak little bit about the
difference between the li- public library and soviet mass mass or masses library er because er from er point of view many foreign er researchers the initiatives…

ELFA corpus Fluent speaker ...the UN just messes it all up , and ends up with the total noncommittal document you know with a long list of all kinds of things that may have to be done which no-one will understand with no signature from civil society so that citizen in the world you know will feel why would they take this seriously because this has got nothing to do with them i think then we do a real step backwards then we have to do all the work all over again missed opportunity … Less fluent speaker ... (in your) university er and er but today i'm going to speak little bit about the difference between the li- public library and soviet mass mass or masses library er because er from er point of view many foreign er researchers the initiatives…

Why is ELF interesting?
Theoretically Descriptively For applied purposes

Theoretical interest
- more L1 backgrounds than any other contact language vs. language contact research mostly between two languages

-> exploration of phenomena crucial to successful communication “communicative universals” ? ‘vernacular universals’ (Chambers) ‘necessary features of language’ (Hunston & Francis)

e.g. pragmatic and communicative universals: - discourse markers (e.g. McCarthy 2001) - marking given and new with intonation (Brazil 1985; 1997) What is shared, what is culture specific?

hypotheses: • ELF displays interference which levels out in interaction • Most successful features are those most widely shared among languages

Descriptive interest
If we adopt the perspective of L2 use (‘speakers’) not ‘learners’ received preconceptions may be shattered

Common findings on ELF
• Articles: missing or superfluous • Prepositions used quite freely (discuss about) • Frequent use of verbs with a generic sense (have, make, do..) • Lack of idiomaticity compared to Standard English (how to put the end on it) • Few misunderstandings

Macrosocial context
- high mobility, weak social ties “diffuse” communities; permeable boundaries, networking fundamental characteristic of the situation is diversity, socio-cultural, linguistic and conceptual

Diversity implies uncertainty and lack of shared knowledge hybrid forms adaptive strategies foregrounding cooperation and explicitness

Hybridisation – cultural or linguistic
…it is a way of controlling [S2: uhum] us sort of eh i don't know divide and govern [SU-M: ooh] sort of a thing

…I don’t know what’s the hen and what’s the egg

… you could do the same for the dooming cathedral in Turku (< Scandinavian domkyrka = cathedral)

Cognitive context
- variety of L1 backgrounds - speech processing in conceptually demanding situations - in ELF research the natural mix of proficiency levels from modest to fully proficient Cf. SLA research: proficiency kept under control

Adaptive processes in Piaget’ classic terms Assimilation: operation on a new instance or experience within a pre-existing schema e.g. interference, or simplification/regularisation based on earlier experience insuitable, unequality, academical, relativeness, choosed, criterias, informations

Accommodation modifies an existing schema to better fit the environment. e.g. a plausible but previously unheard expression is added on (registrate – vs. register) favour fuzzy processing; “approximation”

E.g. conventional sequences (formulaicity) in L2 use The received wisdom is these are very hard for learners to get right to put the end on it to put an end to it

Generally thought that children acquire (L1) multi-word chunks as wholes which later get broken down, enabling creative use of the components but the original schemata are also retained multiple storage of the same units; a dual processing mechanism

Dual processing
Holistic processing: use large units accessible as wholes - supports fluency and facilitates comprehension Analytic processing: use small elements (e.g. words) for constructing larger units (phrases, sentences…) - supports flexibility, productive and creative language use

Wray (2002): different processing mechanisms in L2 and L1 L2 learners adopt only an analytic approach, i.e. analyse input into the smallest possible components and compose every utterance from these get the wholes wrong

Fully fixed formulaic sequence matter of fact ELFA
well known as jakobson , as a matter of fact the- erm reading his original texts session will which will be as a matter of fact next thursday erm i will lecture th tion today erm , no-one er as a matter of fact er can put mud on our face when define globalisation erm i as a matter of fact pick internet revolution for instan mena in which we have to as a matter of fact embrace very much and and and ething you know erm well as a matter of fact i i i agree with you er the point tial in a language where at as a matter of fact the more precise the engines we onant er opposition which as a matter of fact is not so obvious but let's admit t need lifeboats i’m curious as a matter of fact . talking about that i’m always r 0 absolutely unbelievable as a matter of fact it’s really unbelievable . okay e country as india is and er as a matter of fact i can er let you all in to a secret

matter of fact ELFA
pite some difficulties that as the matter of fact they come across what type en in finland , he invented as the matter of fact er many initiatives one of ontroversial er statements as the matter of fact er soviets were very muc they did they solve it no , as the matter of fact none none have been achi ns er er i i i when i lecture as the matter of fact these topics i erm i’m a bit nd yet erm something that as the matter of fact er very bad erm and and ntest in this context erm is as the matter of fact indirectly proportional ins mpirical data erm and i did as the matter of fact erm i did lecture globalis ns well the democracy will as the matter of fact function well , well on th nomically their economy is as the matter of fact very much (scrambling) it’ don’t have (xx) but there is as the matter of fact in (xx) there are certain re er but there you have @@ as the matter of fact @@ i mean when you stan

Sometimes ELF gets to break up patterns which are thought to be fully fixed. ELFA: as a matter of fact as the matter of fact (11) (18)

’approximation’ – picking the most salient features only?

Top 3-grams (3-word clusters) from academic speaking ELF 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. I don’t know I think that one of the a lot of you have to L1 English I don’t know a lot of one of the a little bit you have to

Let me + Vcomm
let me + communicative verb a conventional chunk frequent in academic English speech: let me just tell you a little bit about it ELF academic speech:
…not on communication let me explain why (.) I do believe… …lesome (.) because (.) let me give you one example (.) the… …hm S1: mhm (...) yeah eh let me ask you first what would… …only talking about eh oh let me correct myself not only but…

L1 academic speech: single occurrences of Vcomm
…e tales. okay. at this point, uh let me clarify at this point most ... so let me just elaborate a little bit and then we'll get to false consciousness. …said enough um let me make my comment which is that… … the total value. let me just stop you for a minute Rob… … did we talk about yesterday, um... let me backtrack here… … if not let me leave this model, and i wanna start talking… … so let me (.) just, let me be episodic. i me- w- one of the… ….perspective, let me just give you a a forty-five second sketch of Einstein's early life.

a fairly productive pattern.
Some verbs more typical in the V slot – “preferred” (tell, give, ask, say, look, take, show) but the frame can be exploited creatively – by both native speakers as well as L2 speakers; basic processing mechanisms similar for L1 & L2 (or L3 …Ln )

Point of view
S1: but that would allow er people more time to do whatever S6: yeah but i in my point of view that was really good [because] S3: [@yeah@] S5: [yeah] S6: (xx) that we are an open an open market nowadays

Form: a blend of in my view and from my point of view Sense: ’opinion’ Pragmatic function: preparatory work for a divergent point (yeah but in my point of view)

All ELFA: there is no er specific in-, interest erm in my point of view in in this kind of usage. but in er example four [mhm] for example in my point of view daddies always cook what in my point of [view] [oh] daddies not something new globalisation in my point of view er but on the other hand i would say do whatever yeah but i in my point of view that was really good [because] [@y states , it can be said and er on my point of view er i will say that the second cold war instance erm market regulation on my point of view are the third world countries and the conclusion we have where , on my point of view my humble point of view i would say as the globalisation intensifies , the world on my point of view if you want we can open formal discuss erm the world will devel

• 5 different speakers in 4 different files • 4 different L1s: Estonian, French, Flemish and Somali (two speakers on different occasions).

Also, in an ELF “reflective essay” coursework set as email group discussion , international business school course (Karhukorpi 2006: 110): In my point of view, she should talk with him about her feelings... In my point of view the most important thing here is the good for the child... In part of VOICE corpus: In my point of view 1 In your point of view 1

L1 academic speech?
POINT OF VIEW more common in than in

ELFA (22.8/100,000 w) MICASE (7.7/100,000 w)

MICASE: - point of view used more technically (‘perspective’ sense) - in my view for the ‘opinion’ sense. ELFA: both ’perspective’ and ’opinion’ senses pattern: from/ in/on/ -/ point of view

X’s point of view in L1 English (MICASE)
pattern from X’s point of view, sense ’perspective’ with peculiarity from an American's point of view, o- of Japanese mhm. like from a woman's point of view, or something? okay te. okay? so from the observer's point of view the plate is stagnant engths are, from the department's point of view, and what my wea wanna see is a novel, from his point of view, from his perspective.

- at the individual level the processes of conventionality and creativity are both at play, - at the level of language systems, processes of convergence and divergence

Is “dysfluency” a non-native phenomenon?
`dysfluencies’ seem to appear in both L1 and L2 Examples: (a) correction or reformulation …the third world countries or southern g- global s- south what you call today …(ELFA) …got the Japanese to stop or to to um, to to refrain from behavior that was undesirable…(MICASE)

(b) hesitations …supply to the er , north er global north erm or in other word i would say developing er er developed countries so er this notion is er <COUGH> the weakest point…(ELFA) …another behavior, um that was o- of course not to the pleasure, um of the uh of U-S automobile makers… (MICASE)

(c) false starts … i shall return this but i would say that er or to notify that … (ELFA) …i mean if unless you don’t have justice… (ELFA) …at the sa- at the same time… (MICASE) …the ratio of, uh, people in priso- people incarcerated to uh, crimes committed … (MICASE)

(d) repeats … very sensitive and delicate issue of of of manipulation and exploitation…(ELFA) … they they they they cre- created large luxury cars which you know at least sold among people um of of of higher incomes (MICASE)

May not just indicate processing difficulty but, again, facilitate interaction for all participants. “a speaker who hesitates and inserts a lot of pauses assists the non-native listener because they mark proportionately more word beginnings and endings” (Field 2003) could the “dysfluencies” actually help both speakers and hearers to keep track? Both natives and non-natives?

Microsocial context
Social interaction where the social and the cognitive meet ‘negotiation’ speakers’ tendency to change their language towards the interlocutor’s language / dialect (‘accommodation’, ‘convergence’)

For understanding second language use, a database of naturally occurring language is important. just like authentic corpus data for understanding native language use. Authentic second language use turns out to differ from learner language. Kurhila’s (2003) CA study of authentic NS - NNS interaction: speakers in institutional settings orient themselves to meaning, not to linguistic correctness

Similar to ELF: few misunderstandings, and those rarely linguistic Instead, both have frequent self-rephrasing, co-construction of expressions, very frequent signalling of comprehension, clarifications and repetitions from interlocutors

However, ELF speakers do not engage in interactive grammatical correction. (that is, they do not correct each other’s grammatical formulations) In contrast, self-rephrasing often involves grammatical reformulations, uncommon among native speakers but similar to Kurhila’s L1-L2 conversations This grammatical rephrasing may facilitate interaction, manifesting the effort to make communication comprehensible.

ELF speakers thus seem to manage mutual comprehension pretty well. In this they are like native speakers: “There is no reliable evidence that speakers are much bothered by structural or lexical ambiguities, as the situational context of conversation virtually always resolves any theoretical ambiguity that may be present.” (Milroy 2003) ELF speakers seem to have a particularly good tolerance for multiple interpretability

Explicitness
Crossing cultural boundaries gives rise to a need to be explicit ELF communicative strategies emphasise Explicitness Approximation

Explicitness strategies in ELF
1. Rephrasing
…and that we’re bec- not becoming we’re considered to be Europeans because we are in Europe

2. Negotiating topics
…because the Russians they didn’t care er or because…

3. Discourse reflexivity (“metadiscourse”)
…I think also what I would like to ask you in this context er

Applied interest
Questioning NS ideal target Two perspectives: linguistic rights and efficiency A. Linguistic rights people must be able to express their identities and “be themselves” when they speak a foreign language “deficiency” models inadequate Language users are not eternal “learners”

B. Efficiency a native speaker ideal is inefficient: by definition impossible to attain

Attitude change among young Europeans: 1/3 wants to learn a ‘neutral’ or ‘international’ variety of English, not any (national) native variant
(Erling; Lepistö; Ranta)

`Ordinary learners’ (vs. language professionals) - the common core we teach changes with time
- and likely do differ for ELF and L1English

- prepare students for variability: - understanding accent and dialect varieties is a crucial skill - not necessary to produce several varieties - focus on features vital for successful communication

Is ELF an ”easy option”?
• Does ELF mean that ’anything goes’? • Is it not just a policy of accepting mistakes, or a new name to Communicative Competence? • No, it is very demanding because intercultural communication is difficult especially when you cannot predict who your interlocutors will be • There is very little shared knowledge to count on

Evaluation: the NS not always the best evaluator of comprehensibility and communicative success Teaching in English (vs. teaching English): • interactivity facilitates negotiation of meanings
– lecturing in an interactive style;

allow and encourage explicitation strategies and accommodation

Conclusion
ELF research helps understand linguistic features of complex language contact mechanisms of language change variation in contemporary English real situated L2 use
not learners and classrooms

ELF applications for setting priorities in teaching and testing for preparing learners to cope with variation To teach English successfully we need to keep an eye on the way English is going

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