The line between error and innovation in English is fuzzy. Much of that fuzziness is rooted in linguistic inconsistency of Standard English as a semiotic system, as reflected in tremendous phonetic and lexico-grammatical variations, making it very untidy and learner unfriendly. So-called ‘native speakers’ are now outnumbered by learners of English as an additional language (EAL) by a wide margin. To make meaning locally, naturally EAL learners and users have no choice but to indigenize English to meet their locally relevant lingua-cultural needs. Apparent deviations from Standard English norms can no longer be held as a dictum for dismissing EAL meaning-making acts indiscriminately as ‘errors’. On the contrary, such deviations must be seen as a legitimate voice, or ‘innovations’ in short. De-stigmatization of errors or legitimation of innovations, however, tends to meet with resistance not only from ‘native speakers’ but also educated EAL users themselves. Why? Bamgbose (1998) discusses five factors: ‘demographic’ (percentage of acrolectal users vis-à-vis mesolectal and basilectal users), ‘geographical’, ‘authoritative’, ‘codification’, and ‘acceptability’ (attitudes). Following rapid advances in Internet communication since the late 1990s, Bamgbose’s factors must be complemented with a sixth: the popular choice of acrolectal, educated users of English on the Internet, whatever their first language.
|Title of host publication||The Routledge Handbook of World Englishes|
|Place of Publication||London|
|Number of pages||640|
|Publication status||Published - 7 Nov 2020|