World Englishes: Implications for International Communication and English Language Teaching

Kirkpatrick, Andy. World Englishes: Implications for International Communication and English Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Pp. x + 257.

Reviewed by Deepti Gupta
Panjab University
Chandigarh, India

As stated in the introduction of World Englishes, this book differs [from other texts] . . . in that it aims to describe selected varieties of world Englishes and [discuss] the implications [of] learning and teaching [them] in specific contexts (p.1).
The text is divided into three sections, Framework (Part A), Variations and Varieties (Part B), and Implications (Part C). The first chapter of part A examines the native/non-native debate, the functions of language, the identity-communication continuum, pidgins, creoles and varieties of English, and the construct of linguistic prejudice. Chapter 2 details the key linguistic terms used in the book. The third chapter describes the different ways English is used in various countries and spans most of the literature available to date through three levels–models, developmental cycles, and the conflict between English as an international language and world Englishes, concluding that there is a lot of variation and variety; hence global English has to be studied along with specific contexts.
Part B describes the linguistic features of selected English varieties (British, American, Australian, Indian, African, East Asian, and South East Asian English), and gives adequate examples of phonology, lexis, syntax, discourse and pragmatic norms for each. Chapter 4, the first in part B gives a brief summary of the historical development of English in England and focus[es] on demonstrating and exemplifying its variation (p. 39). The second, chapter 5, describes the development of American English while clearly accepting that language variation is something natural and expected. Chapter 6 looks at Standard Australian English and Australian Aboriginal English. The next chapter examines the different varieties of South Asian English with a view to demonstrate their extraordinary range, varieties, and functions. Indian English literature gets extra attention because of its rich output and the evidence it provides of the fact that English has become a South Asian language (p. 98). Chapter 8 focuses on Nigerian and South African English although examples are provided from other African Englishes. The chapter also examines the role of English in the 54 African nation states, especially in the sphere of education and its ambivalent status with regard to the projection of African culture while working as a lingua franca. Chapters 9 and 11 deal with the countries of South-East Asia. While the former covers the countries of the outer circle (Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines), the latter examines the Englishes of the countries in the expanding circle (the remaining 6 ASEAN countries of Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam). Chapter 10 examines the role English has played, is playing, and will play in China and Hong Kong. The author reaches the conclusion that in terms of the number of speakers of Chinese English, this variety will soon become the one most commonly spoken in Asia. An added feature of this book for this section are the samples provided from the spoken and written forms (with an accompanying audio CD and transcripts in the appendix), and, where appropriate, excerpts from the literature written in that variety.
Part C examines the implications of world Englishes. It summarizes key themes, prepares the ground for the debate ahead, and reviews the corpus of literature to assess the status of English in various societies. Chapter 12 addresses the factors that make English a lingua franca and the need for varieties. Chapter 13 discusses areas to be taken into account when choosing a particular variety of English for classroom use, three models (the exonormative native speaker model, the endonormative nativised model, and lingua franca), and the advantages and disadvantages of each. The chapter then moves on with recommendations for teacher education, recruitment, and training in the outer and expanding circle countries.
Readers new to the area will find World Englishes to be a good, short, introduction to the field and a welcome addition to the thin, yet growing area of literature in this area. More experienced readers, however, may feel that, while the book s exploration is certainly more exhaustive than other books on the subject, a more detailed discussion of certain topics (e.g. the exploration of varieties in the last section) is necessary.