The Karmic cycle of world Englishes: some futuristic constructs



ABSTRACT:  It is not easy to look at the current momentum of the worldwide diffusion of English and imagine what the future trends will be by mid-century or even in the next two or three decades. A prudent undertaking is to review briefly the present situation and project what the coming decades hold in view of several developments that are shaping our world. The story of the spread of English and the factors responsible for its diffusion are complex. The spread and functions of world Englishes are still growing; simultaneously, the domains of use of other contenders or languages of wider communication, such as French and Spanish in Africa, Southeast Asia and other parts of the world, are shrinking. As far as various other languages of wider communication are concerned (e.g., Arabic, Chinese, Hindi-Urdu, Spanish), although they are spreading at a fast pace beyond their borders, they are as yet providing no serious challenge to world Englishes. This paper presents a bird's-eye view of the factors responsible for the spread of English, and discusses briefly its impact on local languages. The major focus is on the consequences of the worldwide diffusion of English in terms of nativization and acculturation of the language and emergence of world Englishes. The concern that the global spread of English is hastening language ‘decay’ and ‘death’, and the proposals to combat this process by developing world, global, or lingua franca English, are addressed briefly. The contemporary status of world Englishes and the world's major languages are considered in some detail in terms of plausible futuristic constructs.1