Communication Global Englishes
Christopher Jenks
  • LAST REVIEWED: 13 September 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 May 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0116


The global spread of English—a process set into motion and currently being influenced by colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, neoliberalism, popular culture, and technological advancements, to name a few social structures and phenomena—presents scholars with a range of exciting opportunities to conduct interdisciplinary research on language and communication. For example, the global spread of English has led to a number of linguistic varieties that complicate what is traditionally understood to be a speaker of English. Although linguistic varieties are a key empirical issue within this body of work, this publication establishes that the study of global Englishes requires a much more interdisciplinary approach. Put differently, the study of global Englishes extends beyond the investigation of language varieties and includes a number of different linguistic and social issues, as the references cited in this article demonstrate. This publication offers an overview of some of these issues, and establishes how scholars have approached the global spread of English in their research. The current publication defines a linguistic issue as a social, communicative, or cultural matter that interfaces with language and, more specifically, global Englishes. That is to say, linguistic issues are bound to a number of sociological and cultural phenomena, which shed light on how English spreads, and is contested and reimagined. For example, the global spread of English is largely based on a history of colonialism and imperialism, and these historical developments have formed, and currently shape, how individuals construct their language ideologies. Moving beyond the linguistic-varieties discussion in global Englishes allows researchers to better understand the significance of politics and power in shaping communicative practices, linguistic hierarchies, attitudes and perceptions, and ideological commitments.

General Overviews

Many introductory and state-of-the-art publications on global Englishes exist. Kachru 1992 is a seminal publication within this body of work, which helped formalize the area of study with its concentric-circles model of Englishes: inner, outer, and expanding circles. Although many scholars have since added to this body of work, Crystal 2003 has helped to popularize the study of global Englishes with an engaging and easy-to-follow writing style. In the same vein, Jenkins 2014 offers an introductory overview of global Englishes that has been taken up by many classroom instructors (see also Kirkpatrick 2012). Other works, however, provide a more nuanced and critical account of global Englishes. For instance, Canagarajah 2013 challenges existing notions of language by showing how English is highly adaptable and negotiable. Saxena and Omoniyi 2010 moves beyond Western scientific knowledge by providing an account of global Englishes from diverse perspectives. Although the concentric-circles model has been criticized by a number of researchers over the years, it continues to play an important role in how scholars discuss, and even conceptualize (Schneider 2007), the global spread of English—Kachru, et al. 2009, for example, offers a comprehensive, albeit superficial, account of global Englishes. The works cited in this section are underpinned by, or build on, the concentric-circles model.

  • Canagarajah, Suresh. 2013. Translingual practice: Global Englishes and cosmopolitan relations. New York: Routledge.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203120293

    The author examines how translingual practices—the intermixing of languages and semiotic resources in contexts that require the management of multiple identities—help capture the fluid ways in which people communicate in these highly globalized and technologically advanced times. The book establishes why English should not be considered a fixed system, but rather a resource that varies in function according to communicative contexts.

  • Crystal, David. 2003. English as a global language. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511486999

    Crystal considers in this book the meaning of a global language. He investigates the origins of English in the regions that use the language, considers the social and political reasons why English is a global language, and explores the future of English and what that language may look like. First published in 1997.

  • Jenkins, Jennifer. 2014. World Englishes: A resource book for students. 3d ed. Routledge English Language Introductions. London: Routledge.

    DOI: 10.4324/9781315761596

    A key textbook for teachers and students considering the many social, cultural, linguistic, and political issues that shape the global spread of English.

  • Kachru, Braj B., ed. 1992. The other tongue: English across cultures. 2d ed. English in the Global Context. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press.

    This edited collection, which contains six thematic sections, presents a comprehensive account of the forms and functions of world Englishes. Case studies from a number of regions are used to demonstrate the growing and dynamic nature of English. A significant portion of the book deals with the creative and context-dependent nature of English varieties. First published in 1982.

  • Kachru, Braj B., Yamuna Kachru, and Cecil L. Nelson, eds. 2009. The handbook of world Englishes. Blackwell Handbooks in Linguistics. Oxford: Blackwell.

    The book represents one of the most comprehensive publications dealing with the many facets of English as a global language. The handbook is made up of forty-two chapters; contributors to the volume are established scholars in their respective areas of focus, making the collection an essential reference book for any scholar concerned with, directly or tangentially, the global spread of English.

  • Kirkpatrick, Andy, ed. 2012. The Routledge handbook of world Englishes. Routledge Handbooks in Applied Linguistics. London: Routledge.

    Contributors to this volume examine English varieties, the contexts in which these varieties are used, and the pedagogical implications of the global spread of English. Thematically, the collection of papers is organized into six sections: historical perspectives and “traditional” Englishes, regional varieties and the “new” Englishes, emerging trends and themes, modern contexts and functions, debates and pedagogical implications, and the future.

  • Saxena, Mukul, and Tope Omoniyi, eds. 2010. Contending with globalization in world Englishes. Critical Language and Literary Studies. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

    The editors of this eleven-chapter volume offer a focused account of how globalization shapes several key issues in the global spread of English. Both the editors and most of the contributors represent speech communities and regions that have been historically, both inside and outside academia, linguistically marginalized. Thus, the collection offers unique perspectives to topics that have been discussed primarily by “Western” European and North American scholars.

  • Schneider, Edgar W. 2007. Postcolonial English: Varieties around the world. Cambridge Approaches to Language Contact. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511618901

    Schneider uses his “dynamic model”—an evolutionary account of the global spread of English—to frame his description of world Englishes. The book is a survey of the different types of English used in postcolonial countries. Although the book provides important insights into the global spread of English, Schneider is primarily concerned with using his survey to test and unpack his evolutionary model.

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