You are on page 1of 38

Introduction to

the study of
Varieties of
Present-Day
English
Lecture 7
Further Notes and Concluding
Remarks about Present-day
English(es)
Back to Standard English Grammar
Each sentence contains a mistake. Identify the
error and rewrite the sentence in the correct
way.
1. A good sentence in English is one that is brief,
short, and easy to understand.
2. The first things an international student must do
include renting an apartment, registering for
classes, and to get to know the city.
3. Professor Jameson is extreme well liked by his
colleagues.
4. Beside two houses in the city, he owns a house
in the country.
5. After finishing dinner, the telephone rang.
6. They agreed tomorrow to make a decision.
7. Antique furniture sells well even though is
expensive.
8. Benjamin Franklin, the famous American
statesman, author, and scientist, he was born in
1709 and lived to the age of eighty-four.
9. Some of the city’s swimming-pools were closed
since the end of last summer.
10. The city council is for some time now
considering widening the street.

Tips concerning
ERROR TYPES

• double subject or no subject;
• unnecessary repetition (i.e., semantic
redundancy);
• structural parallelism not observed;
• lexical confusion; spelling; verb forms; adj./adv.;
singular /plural;
• two and more than two;
• wrong prepositions;
• lack of logic; misrelated constructions (dangling
modifiers), wrong word order;
• wrong pronoun form, agreement and reference.

In-class work
Read these sentences carefully, and then rewrite
them in as few words as possible (between two and
ten) without really changing the meaning:
• 1. If I were asked to give an accurate description of
my physical condition at the present moment, the
only possible honest reply would be that I am
greatly in need of liquid refreshment.
• 2. People whose professional activity lies in the field
of politics are not, on the whole, conspicuous for
their respect for factual accuracy.
• 3. I must confess to a feeling of very considerable
affection for the young female person with whom I
spend the greater part of my spare time.
• 4. Failure to assimilate an adequate quantity of
solid food over an extended period of time is
absolutely certain to lead, in due course, to a fatal
conclusion.
• 5. It is by no means easy to achieve an accurate
understanding of that subject of study which is
concerned with the relationship between numbers.
• 6. It is my fervent wish that the creator of the
universe will do his utmost to preserve and protect
the royal lady who graciously occupies the position
of head of state.
• 7. I should be greatly obliged if you would have the
kindness to bring me, at your convenience, a
written statement of the indebtedness I have
incurred in connection with the meal which you
have just finished serving to me.
• 8. I should be grateful if you would be so good as
to stop the uninterrupted flow of endless remarks
with which you are currently straining my patience
to breaking point.
Architecture of a language
• If a language is taken as a historical
object, i.e., a way of communicating by
language bound to the coordinates of a
particular speech community (rather than
as a self-contained system), its use varies
along a set of dimensions that has been
called the architecture of a language
(Flydal 1951). The following set of four
dimensions is proposed in Coseriu 1981:
Architecture of a language:
dimensions of variation
(Dimension + explanation + examples)
DIAPHASIC, i.e., in different communicative
settings, different levels of style/register
are used, e.g., oral vs. written language,
foreigner talk, vulgar style
DIASTRATIC, i.e, in different social groups
(according to age, sex, profession ...),
different sociolects are used, e.g., youth
language, hunters' language
DIATOPIC + in different places and regions
of the linguistic area, different dialects
are spoken, e.g., English English >
Northern English English (>including
Scouse, Geordie, Yorkshire dialect etc.)
DIACHRONIC, i.e., variants and even
historical stages follow each other on the
diachronic axis, e.g. (from the present
perspective), extinct, obsolete, old-
fashioned, current, fashionable
expressions
Note: to discuss the status of Old English…
Compare:

(according to)
SYNCHRONIC VARIETIES
DIATOPIC
(COSERIU, RONA)

local-regional

geographic dialect
(GREGORY)

Region (QUIRK ET AL)
DIATYPIC
(RONA)

diaphasic (COSERIU)

functional-stylistic
(HALLIDAY:)
(QUIRK ET AL:)
(HALLIDAY:)
Content/
Subject matter/
Field
Channel/
Medium/
Mode
Participants/
Attitude/
Tenor
spoken written
DIASTRATIC
(COSERIU, RONA)

social-cultural; sociolect

social dialect
(GREGORY)

Education and Social
Standing (QUIRK ET AL
"the language of ....."
(See STYLES below)
The set of properties that characterize a
variety and distinguish it from the others
does not exhaust a whole language
system. This is clearest in the case of a
professional special language, which may
be characterized only by some additional
vocabulary. Similarly, a dialect may share
its syntax with the other dialects or with
the standard while differing from them in
phonological and lexical aspects.
‘EYE DIALECT’ IN LITERATURE – A
ST LUCIAN POEM
A Noble Prize

Mooma what a fete! Dem St. Looshans
dance an prance till the back door tumble down
De boys say, ―Charlie, have you heard the news?‖
He turn on the radio an ah hear a Looshan win a
Nobel prize
You hear how he say Nobel Speakey-spokey like
the Queen?
All the pickney know dat de word is Noble
He say is de second Nobel a Looshan win
Dey say he win it for potery and play
Me never know dem uses to give prize for dat
(Min you, me doesn play much) but me got nuff
potery in my yard
Mus can give dis Walcott competition
Ah goin aks de boss to write up my petition
All you tink dis is fete? When ah get de t’ird Noble
Mama it go be pure bacchanal till nex year carnival.
Hazel Simmons McDonald

ST. LUCIA
Like many of the Caribbean Islands’ present-day
inhabitants, the majority of St Lucians are descended
from Africans imported as slaves in the 18th and early
19th centuries. The Carib people, the original
inhabitants of the island, are now extinct. St Lucia, in
the Caribbean’s Lesser Antilles, is a mountainous,
forested island of extinct volcanoes. It became a
permanent British possession in the late 18th century,
having been fought over by Great Britain and France.
French patois, a creole dialect, is spoken by many
islanders, although the official language is English. St
Lucia gained its independence from the United
Kingdom in 1979.
The high proportion of Roman Catholics in St Lucia
reflects the historical influence of the French, who
began to colonize the island in the mid-17th century.
Even the nation’s name pays tribute to a Catholic
saint—according to tradition, Christopher Columbus
discovered the island on 13 December 1502, the feast
day of Saint Lucy. Lucy lived in the 3rd century in
Sicily, where she was called Santa Lucia.
Further examples of non-standard
varieties illustrated in literature


1. "I knowed you wasn't Oklahoma
folks."
(John Steinbeck, The Graphes of Wrath, 1940)
2. "Womenfolks, mostly. All the grown women
around my way look just the same. They all big-
stout. They got big bosoms and big hips and fat
legs, and they always wearing runover house
shoes and them shapeless, flowered numbers
with the buttons down the front. 'Cept on
Sunday. Sunday morning they all turn into
glamour girls, in them big hats and long gloves,
with they skinny high heels and they skinny
selves in them tight girdles-wouldn't nobody ever
know what they look like the rest of the time."
(Becky Birtha, Johnnieruth, in BreakingIce. An
Anthology of Contemporary African-American Fiction,
Penguin Books, 1990)
3. "He beat me like he beat the children.
Cept he don't never hardly beat them. He
say, Celie, git the belt. The children be
outside the room peeking through the
cracks. It all I can do not to cry. I make
myself wood. I say to myself, Celie, you a
tree. That's how come I know trees fear
man."
(Alice Walker, The Color Purple, New York, 1982)
4. "Lunch at the Camelot; Noddy me mando (&
that's the word, son) a que fuera a look over a
deal; Noddy se quiere deshacer de la agencia de
carros y el buyer wants (has) to use the bank's
money for said purpose. A eso se le llama barrer
pa' dentro. Fue cosa de dos horas; no tenia qué
ya que los abogados se encargaran - still, two
hours away from the bank are two hours away
from the bank y lo que se oye en el Camelot no
se oye en cualquier lugar."
(Rolando Hinojosa, Mi Querido Rafa, Houston, 1981)
5. Papa bilong mifala, yu yu stap antap long
heven,
Mifala i wantem we nem bilong yu i tabu.
Mifala i wantem we kingdom bilong yu i kam,
Mo we olgeta man long wol oli wokem olgeta
samting we yu
yu wantem, olsem olgeta long heven oli stap
wokem.
Mifala i askem yu bilong tedei yu givem kakai
long mifala,
i stret bilong tedei nomo.
Mifala i askem yu bilong yu fogivem mifala from
ol samting
nogud bilong mifala,

Olsem we mifala i stap fogivem ol man we oli
stap mekem i
nogud long mifala.
Mifala i askem yu bilong yu no tekem mifala i go
long sam
samting we bambae oli traem mifala tumas,
Mo bilong yu blokem Setan i no kam kasem
mifala.
[The Lord's Prayer from the New Testament (St
Matthew's Gospel, chapter 6, verses 9 to 13) in Bislama]
Note: Bislama, a creole language, is one of the three official
languages of Vanuatu.
STOP AND THINK!
What about the following? Does it look closer to
Standard English, to some non-standard
dialect, to a hybrid (pidgin/creole) variety, or
to none of these?
Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the
roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendered is the flour; [...]
Speech and writing
 time-bound, dynamic, transient vs.
 space-bound, static, permanent;
 usu. interactive (speaker usu. has a particular
addressee in mind)
 vague knowledge of the reader if any
 spontaneity and speed  little planning if any 
looser construction, repetition, rephrasing,
comment clauses
 allows repeated reading and close analysis 
promotes development of careful organization
and compact expression, with intricate SS




 intonation and pause divide long
utterances into manageable chunks, yet
sentence boundaries often unclear
 punctuation and layout
 typically face-to face interaction  facial
expression and gestures (body language)
aid meaning; (often) vague lexicon, deictic
expressions (this one here, right now...)
• avoidance of decitic elements, careful
selection of lexical items. Note that certain
lexical items (e.g., the longer names of
chemical compounds) are never spoken.


 words and constructions (typically)
characteristic of informal speech
 more instances of subordination,
elaborately balanced syntactic patterns
 suited to social and phatic functions
 suited to recording of facts,
communication of ideas, tasks of memory
and learning; written records – easier to
keep and scan

 there is an opportunity to rethink an
utterance while it is in progress 
errors, interruptions, overlapping.
(however, sound engineers may
perform some auditory plastic
surgery on recorded speech...)
 errors and other inadequacies can be
eliminated in later drafts;
interruptions are invisible
• prosody elements v. important –nuances
of intonation, contrasts of loudness,
tempo, rhythm...
• unique features of writing: pages, lines,
capitalisation,, spatial organization,
several aspects of punctuation. Few
graphic conventions relate to prosody:
question marks, underlining for emphasis,
dots...
• Timetables, graphs, complex formulae
cannot be read aloud efficiently (but have
to be assimilated visually)
Mixed medium texts:
Speech:
-to be heard
(a) now (norm)
(b) later
-to be written down
(a) as if spoken
(b) as if written
Medium mixing
-to self (shopping list, memoranda)
-to single other (co-authoring sessions, sharing a letter,
with commentaries)
-to many others (commentary on blackboard, handout,
slides)
Writing
-to be read (norm)
-to be read aloud
(a) as if spoken (radio TV, drama,
teleprompting);
(b) as if written (radio TV newsreading,
teleprompter)
-to be partly read aloud (broadcasting continuity
summaries)

(Based on David Crystal, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of
the English Language, 1995, pp. 291-2)
Summing up
1. English – today’s global language
and most popular foreign language.
2. In its spoken form – many shapes
in private conversation; but public
spoken forms are widely
intercomprehensible and written
forms are remarkably homogeneous.
3. For the expanding circle – the
recommended variety should be one of
the inner circle (a wide range of
purposes).
4. Speakers of the expanding circle should
not worry too much about acquiring a
native accent; instead they should focus
on acquiring a large vocabulary, good
near-native quality of their command of
the use of E and a pronunciation that is
widely understood.
5. Convergence or divergence?

Two scenarios – two ―catastrophes‖:

• the Americanization catasptrophe;

• the disintegration catastrophe.
Lexis
Words have crossed the Atlantic.
―Americanisms‖ have become ―British‖ too: (car)
battery, briefcase, dessert, junk, peanut, radio,
raincoat, soft drink, sweater
But no sign of change in hood/bonnet, trunk/boot
etc.
+ ―False friends‖, e.g., nervy USE ―courageous‖,
―full of nerve‖; BE ―nervous‖, ―full of nerves‖
(England)
In GB and Australia, Lorry is giving way to truck 
homogenization in the direction of American
usage
Grammar:
Have – the Am. pattern is stronger
Have you any money – old-fashioned
in the South; still OK in Scotland and
Ireland
Used they to? – same
Am. style: We ought to go, shouldn’t
we?
Phonology

Divergence to be continued
VARIETIES OF ENGLISH
Topics
1. Language as a system.
2. The revelatory aspects of speech.
3. Define the following:
- core English, potential English;
- accent, dialect, idiolect;
- historical language, national language.
[4. What are the Inner Circle, the Outer Circle and
the Expanding Circle?]
5. What is hypercorrection?
6. Explain what pidgins and creoles (=creole
languages) are. [What is decreolisation? What
are acrolect, mesolect and basilect?]
7. Demarcating the history of English.
8. The spread of English.
9. A (tentative) classification of synchronic varieties
of English: diatopic, diastratic and
diatypic/diaphasic varieties; dialect continuum,
code shifing; sociolect; register, sublanguage;
styles along the formality scale; accommodation…
10. Variation in pronunciation (language change,
regional variation, stylistic variation,
unconditioned variation; the relationship between
accent and social scale)
11. Grammatical and lexical variation (the same
aspects as above)
12. Standard vs. non-standard English.
13. Negation in non-standard dialects.
14. Past-tense forms in non-standard English. Other
features of non-standard varieties. Etc.

15. What are the five styles according to Joos? Labels,
explanations; examples.
16. Channels of communication. Written vs. spoken
English.
17. American English pronunciation.
18. American English spelling.
19. American English: grammatical features (compare
the American standard to the British standard).
American English vocabulary.
20. Black English (politically correct: African-American
English) pronunciation.
21. Black English grammar.
22. Caribbean English. A St Lucian poem
23. The future of English (?)

This has been only the
beginning…