Seminar 5

“New Englishes and New English Literatures: The Politics of English as a World Language”

Instructor: Prof. Dr. Andrea Sand, Trier University

This seminar is designed to examine some of the issues connected to the spread of English around the globe, such as questions of ‘linguistic imperialism’ (Phillipson 1992) or linguistic human rights, as well as individual varieties and their representations in literary texts.


The course is divided into two parts:

Part 1 will provide a brief summary of the historical developments leading to the spread of English around the globe and some theoretical models and discussions connected to the role of English as a World Language.

Part 2 will present three case studies form different regions of the anglophone world:

1) The situation in Jamaica is characterized by a linguistic continuum between Jamaican Creole and Standard English. Speakers and writers exploit the extreme variability of language for various communicative functions. It is also interesting to ask whether the island geography plays a role in the development of language forms and uses.

2) In India, English is spoken in a multilingual context and is shaped by the first language of its speakers, their educational background but also their language attitudes. A norm for a pan-Indian standard variety is presently evolving.

3) Nigeria is interesting for linguists and literary scholars alike, as both standard English and Nigerian Pidgin compete with indigenous languages such as Hausa or Igbo in this multilingual country. Nigerian Pidgin does not have official status but since it is the lingua franca of the urban centres, it is also represented in literary texts or other public domains, such as news broadcasts or radio soap operas.

After an introduction to the most important linguistic features of the varieties presented, we will look at shorter literary texts from each country and compare the strategies employed by the authors to represent the local varieties of English in their work.


Reading list


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