Newsportal - Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Is Standard English endangered?
An Indian, an African and a German, each with their own vernacular, come together and converse in English. What does that version of English look like?
I used to be convinced that a conversation like that would be very colourful. An Indian greeting, a typical German idiom translated into English, things like that. De facto, that does not happen. Living in an international student hall in England for a year, I observed that speakers accommodate over time. Major vocabulary contrasts disappear. This does make sense in a way. After all, the Indian knows that I would otherwise have difficulties understanding him.
Does Standard English in Great Britain and the United States change because it is being spoken in so many varieties all across the world?
Not as far as grammar is concerned. However, we can observe that American English gains increasing significance world-wide. This also affects the variety of English spoken in Great Britain. Moreover, new words from around the world constantly make their way into British and American English.
And what about Great Britain? Does the language change due to immigration?
The migrants living in England hardly affect standard British English. People who want to obtain one of the better-paid jobs in Great Britain need to know standard grammar. Standard British English is very prestigious, and immigrants aspire to it. On the other hand, people have become much more liberal as far as pronunciation is concerned. As long as grammar complies with standard rules, a regional or ethnic accent is acceptable.
Does this also apply to teenagers?
In East London, where large parts of the population have their roots on the Indian subcontinent, in Africa or the Caribbean, colleagues have made an interesting observation: Male adolescents of diverse ethnic backgrounds mutually influence one another's pronunciation. Probably, this is due to their intense, regular contact. However, whether this influence goes beyond informal leisure-time conversation and also affects their speech at school or at their job, is still open to research.
4 April 2017