Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Expanding circle

Who owns English? If you can use it, you own it.     Kachru

It's been a while since I posted.  At the moment, I'm sitting in a hotel on Korea St. in NYC.  Tomorrow, I'll do some observations for a class that I'm taking, and meet with friends.  Then it's (sigh) back on the train to Gloucester.  It is wonderful to be in the city.   This is one of the biggest cities in a country where English is the de facto official language, but listening in on my long walk through Manhattan, I heard only a handful of people speaking English.  Very few places are monolingual; even in rural Gloucester one can hear other languages these days.

A current topic in a Sociolinguistics class is the evolution of language in countries where English has been become a major language often as a result of colonialism.
I'm seeking information for an assignment.  Below are two questions; I would be delighted to have your input.  If you have good examples showing how English changes because of the influence of local languages or vice versa, please share them. The more specific, the better.  Even if you don't have any personal experiences with living in a multilingual (more than one language spoken) community, I welcome your response.

Now for the two questions:

!.  How has the introduction of English influenced your country, or region of your choice.  What are positive and negative changes?

2.  In a multilingual community, how have different languages influenced and changed one another.  Have new words, or grammar rules been adapted?  Has status of any of the languages changed since the introduction of English?

I hope to hear from you!


  1. I feel the introduction of english language in my country Ghana was a good thing. Having it upfront as a foreign language with the option to learn it & be able to communicate with more people was a plus.
    However, the colonialists had more in mind than teaching us their english language so that we could communicate. Our languages were devalued, and english promoted as the national language. That is one of the results that completely negates any possible good that came out of the introduction of the english language in Ghana.

  2. Think-About-It, Thanks for responding! I agree that the colonist's motivation to teach English was largely desire to extend empire. I hear people say that English is useful in Ghana, as a lingua franca between ethnic groups, but I wonder why Twi or Ewe ( I don't know which language would be most useful) could not fulfill the same role. Maybe there could be two official languages, or even a deliberately created language that would include everyone's mother tongue. English could be taught as a foreign language just as French is now.
    Anyway, I like the way that people in Ghana speak English ( generalization, I know)...I wonder if Ghanaians over time have changed English until belongs to them despite colonial origins.