Saturday, February 12, 2011

English in Europe

After reading a couple of article on South American and African Englishes, the next continent was Europe. I have to say I have been a little disappointed and I'm not sure why. Is it because I'm more familiar with Europe that I didn't find these articles as interesting as the ones on other continents? Is it because these articles are short? Or, maybe something else. I don't know maybe it's just me but I thought the other articles were more in depth more informative more sociopolitical more historical for some reason. Anyway, here are the articles.

Modiano Euro-Englishes from the Handbook of World Englishes 
This chapter discusses three specific issues which have relevance to the European context. The first issue involves the inequalities between mainland Europe and the UK when it comes to setting standards for English language teaching (ELT). Mainland European ELT is dependent on the British rendition of the English language because the vast majority of educational materials used in mainland Europe are imported from England. Furthermore, throughout Europe, the British Council operates language-learning services within the framework of Standard British English and the cultural contexts of Britain and the Commonwealth. Thus, how British scholars conceptualize English strongly influences ELT practitioners across Europe. Secondly, there is a focus on the manner in which English is used in mainland Europe as a lingua franca among non-native speakers, giving rise to the concept of "Euro-English." Lastly, there is an examination of the role that English is playing in the European Union (EU). Because English is intimately linked to the future of the Union, the official functions of English within the EU will have considerable impact on the forms and functions of the English language in this part of the world. (p. 223)
Reichelt, M. (2006). English in a multilingual Spain. English Today, 22(3), 3-9.

The aim of this article is to cover three areas in particular: the history of English in Spain; its current status in the nation's multilingual context; adn the learning and teaching of the language nationwide. (p. 3)
Reading this article made me wonder how it would be like if Turkey allowed its minorities to have education in their native languages years ago. Spain seem to have done this. I do not know how many languages are spoken in Turkey. Some minority groups I can think of are Kurds, Armenians, Romans, Bosnians, Arabs, Laz, ethnic Bulgarians, Circassians, Alaouites. I do know that some of these populations had opportunities to get education in their native languages but this issue has always been a politically charged issue in Turkey. I guess after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, after such a traumatic event in its history where large territories were lost as a result of separatist nationalistic movements in the Balkans, in the Arabian peninsula, and pretty much everywhere else, it is not surprising that Turkish governments developed a phobia that the same might happen if a minority group got too independent. Too much blood has been shed from both sides until the attempts to be part of European Union. I think things are better now and I hope things will get better in the future. It is too easy to condemn things from a distance but I think it's important to understand the complexity of the situation in the region before finding a solution. Probably I should learn more about these issues myself.

Bjorkman, B. (2008). 'So where we are?' Spoken lingua franca English at a technical university in Sweden. English Today, 24(2), 35-41.
The main goal of my research is to find out what kind of divergence from standard morphosyntactic forms of English if any leads to disturbance, i.e., break-down, in ELF speech. (p. 35)
The results overall are in line with the findings of earlier ELF research in the sense that there is a considerable number of cases of non-native-like usage but very few cases of overt disturbance in communication based on morphosyntax. English thus seems to be an effective medium of communication in this high-context environment and in this type of speech events. (p. 40)
Edwards, A. (2010). Dutch English: Tolerable, taboo, or about time too? English Today, 26(1), 19-25.
The results showed that most participants [professional editors] believed a variety of Dutch English would emerge, or may already have emerged...On the whole, however, they did not consider what many referred to as "Dunglish" to be a legitimate variety. (p. 21)
Mezek, S. (2009). English in Slovenia: Status, functions, and features. English Today, 25(4), 28-38. 
On one side there is globalisation, the market forces and the exchange of ideas, while on the other is the feeling that one has to protect one's own language from these forces. However, many people feel the pull to both ides. (p. 36)
As I was going over the articles we have read so far, I realized the extent to which English is prominent in many people’s lives all around the world. As a result of this depth and breadth of the spread of English, researchers seem to collect data from many different sources. When put together the sources of data used in these articles make a long list. Internet/computers use, TV channels (cable/satellite), radio channels, movies, magazines, newspapers, books, product/brand names, textbooks and teaching materials, national origins of teachers, music, advertisements (billboards/shop signs/TV commercials), loan words, standardized tests, international festivals/fairs/conferences, tourism related use of English, job ads, academic publications (including dissertations), language schools, educational policies and practices, language of instruction, professional editing and translation services, perceptions of different groups, such as students, teachers, gatekeepers or other stakeholders concerning English, menus, tickets to tourist sites, use of English in some specific fields—business, law, engineering, medicine, etc.,—birth certificates, national identity cards, and literary works. It is quite a formidable list indeed. When the academic literature published on specific contexts and third party sources such as British Council profiles, data on WorldFacts, government websites are considered, it is difficult not to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data available.
It is also worth mentioning that the articles we have read so far also utilize a variety of research methods. We have read articles using surveys/questionnaires, interviews, written materials, statistics, on-site investigation/data collection of written and spoken uses of English to investigate local uses, and some of those articles were comparative studies comparing different varieties.  It was very informative seeing studies that use different research methods because we could see the different possibilities for doing research.     

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