Outside the Anglo- American core areas

For a long time now, English has strengthened its position as the language connecting us all. One can travel the world and still be able to communicate with people from different countries and cultures. However, it might not always be that simple. Outside the Anglo- American core area, countries often have their own version of the familiar language. Amongst them are Hinglish, Jamaican English and South African English.

These are all languages which have taken English and giving it a more personal/ cultural twist, matching it to the purpose of the use. In general, the different varieties of English have elements from their own language, making it harder for “outsiders” to understand. Hinglish is a good example of that. For instance there are several authors writing in Hinglish, using features from Punjabi. In that way, they are showing that it is the most common form of English in India, targeting an audience of approximately 350 million people. Salman Rushdie is a famous author focusing on just that.  However, the biggest communicational problem appears when one tries to talk to people who speak Hinglish. The intonation mixed with foreign words can often be found challenging. For instance, they say “pphunny” for funny, and often use the term “glassy” rather than “wanting a drink”.

Another language that can be difficult to understand in the beginning is Jamaican English. Jamaican English is, understandably, a sub- form of English spoken in Jamaica. It is a mixture between British and American, with an Irish intonation. Another characteristic is the usage of local words, such as “duppy” rather than “ghost”. However, Jamaican English should not be confused with Jamaican Creole, a language using many of the same words. The last is influenced by the languages spoken in West- Africa, and is often used in less organized situations, such as at home. Jamaican English, on the other hand, is the formal language used in the education. Due to that, as the Jamaican population reaches a higher level of education, standard English will become increasingly important.

South African English is the last form of English I want to focus on. Since English replaced Dutch as the sole official language of the Cape Colony, it has grown to be a language which 45 % could speak in 1991. Such as in Jamaica, English is the language of the educated, giving it an important status. However, there are many varieties of English within South Africa, using terms from the different languages in the country. These forms are more distinct in the lower layers of the society. A characteristic with South African English is, for instance, the reduplication of the adverb now.  They say now-now, meaning immediately or soon.

To conclude, there are others varieties of English, than those people living in the Anglo- American core areas are used to. In the beginning they can be hard to understand, however, the basis is still English. That means that if one has the knowledge of a given culture or a language, it will not be a problem to communicate. It takes a bit of effort, and the opportunity to ask questions when needed, but that should not be an obstacle.

english in the world

–          Kristin


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