UM Library Celebrates Language
The Scope of English
English is the first language of over 300 million people, but another billion people speak it as a second language. English is the official language in many nations where it is not the most widely spoken. India, Ghana, and Nigeria are just a few. In regions where English is a major language, local peculiarities can still present communication problems for speakers fluent in different varieties.
In the "post-colonial” world, local variants of English (sometimes called creoles or patois) evolve according to their own needs. Some linguists anticipate future transformations will resemble the process that turned late-imperial Latin fragmentations into the major European "Romance" languages.
An Illustrative Example
Caribbean English represents powerful examples of the English Language's gradual differentiation process in post-colonial settings. As the oral standard has increasingly found its way into popular media, the status of distinctive local vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation have been elevated. Increasingly linked to sentiments of regional and nationalistic self-sufficiency, the "non-standard" elements are becoming standard, thereby changing the "English landscape" in a literal way.