On The Origin And Nature Of Standard English


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On The Origin And Nature Of Standard English, Tom Mcarthur
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On The Origin And Nature Of Standard English

  1. 1. On the origin and nature of Standard English Tom McArthur <ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A focus on the nature of “ Standard English” & ELT </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  2. 2. The King’s Standard <ul><li>In 1138, The battle of the flags (standards) between the English and Scots </li></ul><ul><li>Extension to non-military, peaceful meanings ( standard pound, standard yard, gold standard, etc) </li></ul><ul><li>The term was introduced into literature and language by the early 18 th c. ( Henry Fulton) </li></ul>
  3. 3. Classical and Neo-classical Norms <ul><li>The First primer of a Western language ( he grammatike’ te’khne , Dionysius Thrax, 2 nd C BC, Alexandria) </li></ul><ul><li>His main treatise was that the spoken word can be judged in terms of the written word. </li></ul><ul><li>Kione ’ : a spoken dialect ( Cicero’s De oratore ) </li></ul><ul><li>Cicero’s categorisation of Latin: ( urbanitas, rusticitas and pereginitas) </li></ul>
  4. 4. In Britain, the courtly and literary level of the East Midland dialect ascended over other dialects . Reasons <ul><li>Politics: the nation-state </li></ul><ul><li>Communication: the Greco-Latin heritage </li></ul><ul><li>Literature: vernacular genre </li></ul><ul><li>Religion: translating the bible </li></ul><ul><li>Technology: the invention of movable types </li></ul><ul><li>Industrialisation: standard processes and products </li></ul>
  5. 5. High English: the best and the rest <ul><li>A dictionary of the English Language ( Samuel Johnson, 1775) & The Royal Standard English Dictionary, William Perry, Edinburgh) </li></ul><ul><li>Baily, 1991: OUR standard vs. others’ </li></ul><ul><li>Two models: SE & dialect vs. Standard English </li></ul><ul><li>Third Model recently emerged: English as a group of dialects, all equal. </li></ul>
  6. 6. An Assured Standard: the King’s English, Henry W & Francis G. F. ,OUP, 1906: Responses: <ul><li>The authoritarian response </li></ul><ul><li>The Libertarian response </li></ul><ul><li>The egalitarian response </li></ul><ul><li>The uncertain response </li></ul><ul><li>The eclectic response </li></ul>
  7. 7. Perceptions of Standard English: social & geographical criteria <ul><li>The strong traditionalists </li></ul><ul><li>The mild traditionalists </li></ul><ul><li>The liberal progressives </li></ul><ul><li>The uncertain </li></ul>
  8. 8. McArthur’s Conclusion on Standard English. <ul><li>Sociolinguistic </li></ul><ul><li>National-cum-international issue </li></ul><ul><li>Contentious </li></ul>
  9. 9. Literature Review on the topic <ul><li>According to the theory of concentric circles (Kachru, 1985), English being used around the world is divided into three groups: inner circle, outer circle and expanding circle. </li></ul><ul><li>The inner circle refers to the countries where English is a native language: the USA, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand; </li></ul><ul><li>the outer circle denotes EFL countries (e.g. former English colonies), such as India, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa; </li></ul><ul><li>the expanding circle involves EFL countries like China, Japan, Israel, Greece, Poland, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>McArthur divided English as native language, second language and foreign language (McArthur, 1998). </li></ul><ul><li>General Interpretation of Concentric Circles Terminology </li></ul><ul><li>Expanding circle </li></ul>Outer circle Inner circle
  10. 10. Kachru’s Concentric (=Overlapping) Circles of English (from Kachru 1997: 213)
  11. 11. Standard English & Linguists <ul><li>Peter Trudgill, 1999, argues that SE is a language that has been characterised and hence standardised. </li></ul><ul><li>SE is not an accent, 9%-12% of the population of Britain speaks Standard English with some form of regional accents (Trudgill & Cheshire, 1989). Received Pronunciation RP is a common accent, but it is a standardised accent, but not SE itself. </li></ul><ul><li>Crystal states that What is called now SE is one variety of English but not the “ English Language” </li></ul><ul><li>Crystal (1995) also gives his opinion that Standard English is a “minority variety (identified chiefly by its lexical, grammar and orthography) which carries most prestige and is most widely understood” </li></ul>
  12. 12. Standard English & ELT <ul><li>We, teachers, may consider our main mission as to only teach “correct language” without realizing that, even for educated native speakers, natural and correct language includes a variety of language forms, not a single variant (Beebe, 1988; Milroy, J. & Milroy, L.,1985) </li></ul><ul><li>According to Trudgill’s theory, Standard English does nothing with accent; the accent can be chosen when we learn Standard English. </li></ul><ul><li>teachers can become developers of sensitivity toward many varieties of language rather than pedantic linguistic enforcers (Mckay & Hornberger,1996) </li></ul><ul><li>SE, ELT & Culture: As LIU (1998) says, the point of learning culture in teaching EFL is to make target language learners be capable of using English appropriately according to the contexts and necessity. </li></ul><ul><li>English as “CLOCAL” language (Pakir, 1999) </li></ul>
  13. 13. Conclusion <ul><li>There is fixed “ Standard English” </li></ul><ul><li>Apart from the heating linguistic, sociolinguistic and political debate, we, ELT teachers need to be, to some extent, aware of the controversy, but not to involve our students with the many varieties of English that might confuse them. However, we need to send clear messages to our students that they need to expose themselves as much as they can to authentic materials, spoken mainly, in order for them to be acquainted with the language they want to learn at large. </li></ul><ul><li>In my experience in classroom, students in general like to explore beyond what teachers give in class, but they feel worried of making mistakes. This might be one of the reason that they might feel secure with one norm. </li></ul><ul><li>Because Arabic has a linguistically rigid standard language, I think Arab students tend to prefer one norm to learn. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Questions: <ul><li>Reflect on your (former) students’ reaction and outcome when taught by NS and NNS teachers in terms of SE and dialect? </li></ul><ul><li>Do most published course books take dialect variety into consideration? Why? why not? </li></ul>