ISLE 5 Conference Workshops

6. Theoretical Approaches to the Study of World Englishes

Debra Ziegeler (University of Paris III, France) & Bao Zhiming (National University of Singapore)


Tuesday 17 July

14:30-15:00  Peter Siemund - Modeling World Englishes from a cross-linguistic perspective
15:00-15:30 Devyani Sharma - World Englishes and the Interface Hypothesis
15:30-16:00 Bao Zhiming - Must and may in Singapore English and the limit of substratist explanation
16:00-16:15 Coffee Break
16:15-16:45 Baris Kabak & Marie Himmel - Unity in phonological variability permeates L2 learning, multilingualism and language change
16:45-17:15 Folajimi Kehinde Oyebola - Discourse intonation in the non-native English environment
17:15-17:45 Umaima Kamran - Syllable structure of Pakistani English in phonological theory
17:45 Closing remarks

All timings are approximate.


New varieties of English, like other new languages such as pidgins and creoles, are often the last domains to be investigated in the introduction of a new linguistic theory, and generally have been considered from a pedagogical point of view to fall within the extremities of empirical sociolinguistic research alone. More recently, however, publications such as Wolf and Polzenhagen (2009), Hoffmann and Trousdale (eds., 2011) and Filppula, Klemola and Sharma (eds., 2017) have successfully attempted to cross the boundaries that separate dialect study from mainstream linguistics, in demonstrating that studies of English dialect variation may necessitate closer involvement with traditional linguistic theory. Others, such as Siemund (2013) have convincingly applied descriptive, typological perspectives to the study of the new, world Englishes, and Bao (2015) and Ziegeler (2015) also present studies in Singaporean English which are examined from a distinctively theoretical point of view.

The study of international Englishes has also been considerably advanced by the creation of the ICE corpora, which have the advantage of maintaining parallel text consistency across an ever-increasing selection of the world’s English varieties, enabling researchers to test theoretical hypotheses within compatible data-bases. The study of international Englishes has long benefited from comprehensive descriptive classifications such as Kachru (1992) and Schneider (2003) have offered. However, there is still a great deal of research to be undertaken in order to introduce stronger theoretical perspectives into the domain of world Englishes, without losing the advantages of rigorous methodologies which are still largely empirical in nature. The need for empirical support is a fait accompli in the study of international dialects of English, and should not be ignored as a foundational basis for the development of new theoretical applications. Therefore, the aims of the proposed workshop are to explore the extent to which current, linguistic theoretical trends may be informed by empirical research into world Englishes, and applied to the results of such studies.

The scope for the workshop should thus be as broad as possible, in order to attract the widest possible interest. The kind of papers we hope to attract should cover a balance of morphosyntactic and phonological data; studies specialising in the lexicon of international Englishes may also be considered. The role of contact theory will occupy an important place, naturally, as will comparative reference to pidgin and creole situations. But the aim is to attract not only theoretical approaches associated with contact situations, but also the development of new, theory-driven research that has not yet, or not frequently, been applied to the new varieties of world English. Possible areas of interest might include (but should not be limited to), for example:

  • Construction grammar and world Englishes
  • Generative approaches and optimality theory
  • Functional approaches, e.g. grammaticalisation
  • General, usage-based approaches
  • Cognitive Grammar and world Englishes
  • Role and Reference Grammar and world Englishes
  • Theories of pidgin and creole linguistics

The focus will therefore be as eclectic as possible, in order to promote lively discussion and exchange of ideas.


Bao, Zhiming. 2015. The Making of Vernacular Singapore English: System, Transfer and Filter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Filppula, Markku, Johani Klemola and Devyani Sharma (eds.). 2017. The Oxford Handbook of World Englishes. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hoffmann, Thomas, and Graeme Trousdale (eds.). 2011. Variation, change and constructions in English. Special Issue: Cognitive Linguistics 22, 1.

The ICE Corpus: The International Corpus of English: ice/avail.htm.

Kachru, Braj. 1992. The Other Tongue. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Schneider, Edgar W., 2003. The dynamics of new Englishes: from identity construction to dialect birth. Language 79: 233-281.

Siemund, Peter. 2013. Varieties of English. A Typological Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wolf, Hans G., and Polzenhagen, F. 2009. World Englishes: A Cognitive Sociolinguistic Approach. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Ziegeler, Debra. 2015. Converging Grammars: Constructions in Singapore English. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

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This page last modified 22 May, 2018 by Survey Web Administrator.