Who’s afraid of Dutch English? Update

I gave a talk for the Society of English Native Speaking Editors in the Netherlands in Utrecht last week. Julie Bytheway blogged about it here.

“Edwards started the red thread unrolling by identifying opposing roles on a continuum: prescriptive editors need rules whereas descriptive sociolinguists question rules! “What is a rule really?” Referring to Paikeday, Alison reminded us that native speakers of English are a minority and that native speaker norms are sometimes inappropriate. An editor’s moral quandary is to maintain standards while not trampling on writers’ content and style. However, what is (un)acceptable?”

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Who’s afraid of Dutch English?

I’m giving a talk on 31 October in Utrecht. It’s organised by the Society for English-Native-Speaking Editors in the Netherlands, but guests are welcome and you get two free drinks. Also, Halloween dress is encouraged. Really. I’ll personally give you a prize.

Who’s afraid of Dutch English?”

Date: Friday, 31 October, 2014
Time: 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm, followed by drinks
Location: Park Plaza Hotel, Utrecht

Info here.

Cambridge English Usage Guides Symposium

This is exciting and everyone should sign up for it:

Cambridge English Usage (Guides) Symposium

On 26 and 27 June 2014, Henriette Hendriks (Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics and co-chair of the Language Sciences Initiative), Robin Straaijer and Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade (both from the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics) are organising a symposium at the English Faculty of the University of Cambridge on English usage guides and usage problems. Speakers will include John Allen, Deborah Cameron, David Crystal, Mignon Fogarty, Rebecca Gowers, Robert Ilson, Pam Peters, Geoff Pullum, Caroline Taggart and others, including the members of the Leiden Bridging the Unbridgeable project. In addition, the HUGE database of usage guides and usage problems will be launched, a research tool developed by Robin Straaijer. All those interested will be welcome.

See also the information at Bridging the Unbridgeable.

ISLE spring school

This week I attended the (Post-)Doctoral spring school of the International Society of the Linguistics of English (ISLE) at the University of Freiburg, Germany. The theme was ‘Englishes in a multilingual world: New dynamics of variation, contact and change’. I gave a talk called ‘Functions, forms and attitudes vis-à-vis the expanding circle: Three claims and three refutations’. We were also required to submit a summary of our research, which follows below.

English in the Netherlands: Functions, forms and attitudes

I am interested in the use of English in countries traditionally relegated to the expanding circle where many speakers can better be seen as second-language users rather than foreign-language learners of English. My PhD focuses on the case of the Netherlands. In an effort to place the Netherlands on the ‘map’ of World Englishes in terms of the prevailing models, such as Kachru’s (1982) Three Circles model and Schneider’s (2007) dynamic model, I use a multi-method approach, combining diverse existing sources with new empirical data in a sociolinguistic profile of the country, corpus analyses and attitudinal research.

Functions: Sociolinguistic profile of English in the Netherlands

I consider the historical context of English in the Netherlands and the present linguistic landscape, exploring domains such as education, the workplace, governance and law, and media and entertainment. Special emphasis is placed on emotive and creative uses of English relating to identity construction and expression, as in literature, music and online media.

Forms: A corpus-based study of the progressive aspect in ‘Dutch English’

To study the structural features of English as used in the Netherlands, I built a Corpus of Dutch English (NL) based on the design of the written components of the International Corpus of English (ICE) (Greenbaum 1991). I then conducted a case study on the use of the progressive aspect in the NL corpus compared to four ICE corpora representing different phases in Schneider’s (2007) model (ICE-GB, ICE-USA, ICE-IND and ICE-SIN), investigating a range of stylistic, grammatical, lexical and semantic variables. Analyses revealed similarities between GB, SIN and NL, thus cutting across all three varietal types (ENL–ESL–EFL). The NL corpus showed similar qualitative patterns of divergence as IND and SIN, such as extension of progressive marking to stative verbs and general truths/habitual activities. To explore acceptability among Dutch respondents, a grammaticality judgement task based on the findings from the NL corpus is currently underway.

Attitudes: Attitudes towards English in the Netherlands and ‘Dutch English’

I investigate ‘macro’ attitudes to English in the Netherlands (‘English from above’, Preisler 2003) by way of historical and contemporary legislation and policy. Further, to examine ‘micro’ attitudes (‘English from below’), an attitudinal survey is currently being disseminated. To my knowledge this is the first large-scale study in the Netherlands exploring such issues as where English is acquired (predominantly in the classroom or also in other domains), norm orientation and perceptions of different varieties of English (including ‘Nederengels’), code-switching behaviour, and perceptions of and attitudes towards English.

Conclusion

In addition to having implications for the description and characterisation of ‘Dutch English’, my research responds to various wider desiderata. These include calls to expand the scope of World Englishes research to the expanding circle and to examine ESL and EFL varieties in an integrated fashion (e.g. Davydova 2012, Nesselhauf 2009), viewing them not as essentially different but rather as existing on a continuum (e.g. Biewer 2011, Buschfeld 2011, Gilquin & Granger 2011). My work supports the de-emphasis of a colonial backdrop as the major means of varietal classification and a recalibration towards other factors, such as globalisation. With due consideration of the methodological issues involved in applying Schneider’s (2007) dynamic model to a non-postcolonial context, I consider the Netherlands to be located in phase 3 of the model, showing evidence of structural nativisation and a strong sense of ‘linguistic schizophrenia’ (Kachru 1983).

References

Biewer, C. (2011). Modal auxiliaries in second language varieties of English: A learner’s perspective. In J. Mukherjee & M. Hundt (2011), Exploring second-language varieties of English and learner Englishes: Bridging a paradigm gap (pp. 7–33). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Buschfeld, S. (2011). The English language in Cyprus: An empirical investigation of variety status. PhD thesis, University of Cologne.

Davydova, J. (2012). Englishes in the Outer and Expanding Circles: A comparative study. World Englishes, 31(3), 366–385. doi:10.1111/j.1467-971X.2012.01763.x

Gilquin, G., & Granger, S. (2011). From EFL to ESL: evidence from the International Corpus of Learner English. In J. Mukherjee & M. Hundt (Eds.), Exploring second-language varieties of English and learner Englishes: Bridging a paradigm gap (pp. 55–78). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Greenbaum, S. (1991). ICE: The international corpus of English. English Today, 7(4), 3-7.

Kachru, B.B. (1982). The other tongue: English across cultures (2nd edn). Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Kachru, B.B. (1983). Models for non-native Englishes. In K. Bolton & B. B. Kachru (Eds.), World Englishes: Critical concepts in linguistics (pp. 108–30). London: Routledge.

Nesselhauf, N. (2009). Co-selection phenomena across New Englishes: Parallels (and differences) to foreign learner varieties. English World-Wide, 30(1), 1–26. doi:10.1075/eww.30.1.02nes

Preisler, B. (2003). English in Danish and the Danes’ English. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 159, 109–126. doi:10.1515/ijsl.2003.001

Schneider, E.W. (2007). Postcolonial English: Varieties around the world. Cambridge: CUP.

The misfit: Placing the Netherlands on the map of World Englishes

I’m giving a talk next week at the University of Sheffield. The title is above and the abstract is below.

Kachru’s (1985, 1988) Three Circles model was supposed to be subversive, challenging the established dichotomy between native and non-native speakers of English. Similarly, the spirit of the field of World Englishes is supposed to be inclusive. However, research in recent decades has served not to break down barriers altogether, but simply to shift the barrier from between Kachru’s inner and outer circles to between the outer and expanding circles, leaving traditional and New Englishes as legitimate varieties, but expanding circle varieties out in the cold. A strict divide is maintained between second-language (ESL) and foreign-language (EFL) varieties based on their different acquisitional settings, where ESL users — given the legacy of colonialism — acquire and use English in wider society, whereas in EFL societies it is confined within the wall of the classroom. I emphasise that ESL varieties can arise not just through a colonial legacy but through new factors like globalisation and the internet age. Based on a criteria catalogue for ESL status that focuses on widespread competence in English, expansion of function, identity formation, norm orientation and nativisation of linguistic structures, I argue that the Netherlands is starting to show signs of meeting, or having already met, these criteria. Reassessment of its continued relegation to the expanding circle is therefore long overdue.

New and learner Englishes: re-evaluating the norm orientation continuum

Good news. Together with Sam Laporte from Louvain, I’ll be presenting the following paper in May at the 34th ICAME conference in at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Yay for excellent conference locations.

New and learner Englishes: re-evaluating the norm orientation continuum

Background

The divide long believed to exist between outer and expanding circle Englishes has recently been called into question. Gilquin and Granger (2011) point out that the exposure to and use of English varies substantially within EFL countries, and Hilbert and Krug (2012) and Edwards (forthcoming) demonstrate that, within varieties, characteristics of EFL and ESL can coexist. As Hundt and Vogel (2011: 161) write, ‘increasing globalization might eventually blur the distinction between ENL, ESL and EFL varieties’. However, although studies comparing inner, outer and expanding circle countries are indeed emerging (e.g. Hundt & Vogel 2011, Wulff & Römer 2009), due to the nature of the corpus data available from the expanding circle (e.g. ICLE), such studies tend to focus on student writing only. Against this backdrop, we expand this scope of genres and take a first step in answering Davydova’s (2012) call for indigenised and learner varieties to be investigated on the same grounds, with the potential for variation of a similar nature depending on their variable extra-linguistic backgrounds.

Research questions, data and methods

We seek to shed further light on the nature of the continuum across EFL, ESL and ENL. Our data come from the written components of the International Corpus of English (ICE) for Great Britain and the USA (ENL) and Hong Kong, India and Singapore (ESL), as well as from a comparable corpus of Dutch English (EFL). The latter, to our knowledge, is the first expanding circle corpus encompassing all ICE text categories, thus allowing for comparisons across a range of genres. Inspired by Gilquin and Granger’s (2011) work with ICLE, we take the preposition into as a case study, conducting a quantitative and qualitative analysis of its syntactic patterns, semantic distribution, lexical variation, phraseological uses and non-standard uses. We aim to test recent claims that the cline to be found in terms of norm orientation is ENL > EFL > ESL (Hundt & Vogel 2011, Van Rooy 2006) and, within ESL, that the more advanced varieties in Schneider’s (2003) dynamic model will be the most dissimilar to ENL (Mukherjee & Gries 2009). In light of these claims, we hypothesise that Dutch English will be closest to the native norm, and Singapore English most distant.

Results and discussion

Hierarchical cluster analyses in fact reveal Singapore English to be the most norm oriented, thus supporting Hundt and Vogel’s (2011) assertion that such ESL varieties can show lingering exonormative trends. Moreover, Dutch English is not markedly distinct from the New Englishes, but clusters with them in different ways depending on the focus of the analysis, e.g. like Indian English, it shows a relatively higher proportion of intransitive patterning with into than the other corpora. These results support Davydova’s (2012) claim that learner and New Englishes should be approached in an integrated fashion. In our view, they should be seen as existing on a continuum along which individuals and groups can move depending on their norm orientation as well as their levels of proficiency in and exposure to English.

References

Davydova, J. 2012. Englishes in the Outer and Expanding Circles: A comparative study. World Englishes 31(3): 366-385.

Edwards, A. (forthcoming). The nativisation of English in the Netherlands: A sociolinguistic and corpus-linguistic study. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Cambridge.

Gilquin, G. & S. Granger. 2011. From EFL to ESL: Evidence from the International Corpus of Learner English. In Mukherjee J. & M. Hundt (eds.) Exploring Second-Language Varieties of English and Learner Englishes: Bridging a Paradigm Gap. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 55-78.

Hilbert, M. & M. G. Krug. 2012. Progressives in Maltese English. In Hundt M. & U. Gut (eds.) Mapping Unity and Diversity World-Wide: Corpus-Based Studies of New Englishes. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 103-136.

Hundt, M. & K. Vogel. 2011. Overuse of the progressive in ESL and learner Englishes – fact or fiction? In Mukherjee J. & M. Hundt (eds.) Exploring Second-Language Varieties of English and Learner Englishes: Bridging a Paradigm Gap. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 145-166.

Schneider, E. W. 2003. The dynamics of New Englishes: From identity construction to dialect birth. Language 79(2), 233-281.

Van Rooy, B.  2006.  The extension of the progressive aspect in Black South African English.  World Englishes 25(1): 37-64.

Wulff, S. & U. Römer. 2009. Becoming a proficient academic writer: Shifting lexical preferences in the use of the progressive. Corpora 4(2): 115-133.

“Good English is proper English”, and other fallacies

Last week I presented a paper called ‘Good English is proper English’, and other fallacies at the King’s College Cambridge lunchtime seminars, for a non-specialist audience. Thanks go to all those who laughed in the appropriate places. Here’s the abstract:

With the spread of English around the globe, the native speaker is said to be dead. Other people ‘own’ English, and can do what they like with it. In countries where English is an official language, legitimate varieties of the language now exist: Indian, Singaporean, Nigerian English and so on. But what about in northern Europe, where English is not an official language, but English competence is almost universal and it is pervasive in the media, commerce and education? Could it develop into full-fledged varieties there too, with e.g. Dutch or German English standing alongside British or Australian English? Will it one day be okay to say “I live here since three years”? This talk will look at why ‘proper’ English can be bad in some contexts, and why ‘bad’ English can sometimes be right and proper.

Downunder

Last week I presented a paper called ‘Introducing the Cambridge Corpus of Dutch English: Methodological insights and first results’ at the 17th Conference of the International Association for World Englishes at Monash University, Melbourne (Australia). Here’s the abstract:

Corpora are increasingly being built and used to examine varieties of WEs, from different L1 varieties to Outer Circle varieties like Indian and Singaporean English. Fewer focus on Expanding Circle Englishes, and those that do usually take an error-based SLA perspective. The Dutch component of the International Corpus of Learner English (Granger, 2002), for example, includes only undergraduate essays, by definition precluding the English used daily by countless Dutch professionals and academics. Thus no corpus yet allows for insight into the wide-ranging, educated use of English in the Netherlands from a WEs perspective.

The Corpus of Dutch English that is currently being built fills this empirical gap. With 200 texts and text extracts of 2000 words each from different academic and business genres (i.e. 400,000 words in total), in size and structure it is modelled loosely on the written component of the regional ICE corpora. This presentation explores the implications of this design for the positioning of the corpus (as ICE currently only targets ENL and ESL varieties) and the issues surrounding description of varieties traditionally seen as belonging to the Expanding Circle.

The presentation also discusses the results of preliminary lexical analyses, particularly in terms of semantic modification (narrowing, widening, grammatical shift, etc.) and loan translation. The latter includes numerous examples of false friends, or what Hülmbauer (2007) refers to as ‘true friends’, where the L1 form suggests an English word which traditionally has a different meaning, e.g. the Dutch paragraaf becomes ‘paragraph’, with the new meaning ‘section’.

The corpus will eventually be made accessible and searchable along parameters like age, sex, region, occupation and education. Given its comparability with ICE and other corpora, it will be of use to WEs researchers as well as ELT practitioners.

The nativisation of English in the Netherlands: A corpus study

Last week I presented this paper at the Variation and Change research cluster conference in Cambridge.

Corpora are increasingly being built and used to examine varieties of World Englishes (WEs), from different L1 varieties to L2 varieties like Indian and Singaporean English. Fewer focus on ‘EFL’ Englishes, i.e. those from Kachru’s (1984) Expanding Circle, and those that do usually take an error-based SLA perspective. For example, the Dutch component of the International Corpus of Learner English (Granger, 2002) includes only undergraduate essays, by definition precluding the English used daily by countless Dutch professionals and academics. Thus no corpus yet allows for insight into the wide-ranging, educated use of English in the Netherlands from a WEs perspective.

The Corpus of Dutch English that is currently being built fills this empirical gap. With 200 texts and text extracts of 2000 words each from different academic and business genres (i.e. 400,000 words in total), in size and structure it is modelled loosely on the written component of the regional ICE corpora. This presentation explores the implications of this design for the positioning of the corpus (as ICE currently only targets ENL and ESL varieties) and the issues surrounding description of varieties traditionally seen as belonging to the Expanding Circle. The corpus will eventually be made accessible and searchable along parameters like age, sex, region, occupation and education. Given its comparability with ICE and other corpora, it will be of use to WEs researchers as well as ELT practitioners.