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Article Critique - Varieties Of English

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  • on April 22, 2011
  • Category: English
  • Length: 1,796 words

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Article Critique

“The future of global English grammatical identity” by David Crystal

I. Summary

In his article, David Crystal examines the increasing influence that varieties of English from non-native populations are having globally and the importance of grammatical identity. In his introduction he writes that the English language has developed differently in cultures of non-native speakers and it is therefore “difficult to make reliable generalizations.”(1) Crystal points out that first language varieties of English differentiate mostly based on vocabulary and phonology, and minimally in “core grammatical features.” He also states that grammars “have traditionally focused on Standard English, and thus essentially on printed English” but most grammatical divergences can be found in non-standard varieties of English which are widely spoken, but seldom written. In this respect he criticises the lack of focus on those varieties’ spoken languages, which embody many ongoing changes. The reason for a predominant usage of “the grammar of the written language”(2) lies in its traditional education. However, Crystal argues that, while written English may not diminish in importance, spoken English will continue to increase in importance and influence on through spread of globalization, therefore the opinion that grammar does not significantly diverge in the varieties of English, (based mostly on observance of evidence in the written language), may be antiquated.
Crystal also mentions that there are “signs of grammatical differentiation” even in written language. To him, it is a matter of interpretation. He refers to interactions “between lexicon and grammar” that even show differences between British and American English. The reason he mentions those little differences is to point out how small they are compared to recently recognized New Englishes; these New Englishes are broadening the variation significantly further, and even changing so-called ‘core’...

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