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For mutual intelligibility, must English as a lingua franca be standardized?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Christopher Leyland


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This work will apply a Micro-analysis informed by Conversation Analysis (CA) to an interaction in which interlocutors use English as a lingua franca (‘ELF’). Numbers of people using ELF are high: in 2007, the British Council estimated that around 375 million people use English as a first language while 750 million use it as a foreign language1. This analysis will cast doubts on claims that to “guarantee the mutual intelligibility of their accents”, ELF users must standardize their usage by adhering to “lingua franca core” rules (Jenkins, 2003: 126) and that a description to ELF’s salient features is feasible. The findings in this work suggest that ELF users, despite not adhering to standardized rules, achieve mutual intelligibility through negotiating their own variety of ELF depending on each other’s “proficiency level, use of code-mixing, degree of pidginization, etc” (Gramkow Anderson, 1993: 108) as well as various discourse strategies. This work suggests the form of ELF interactions is entirely variable and cannot be standardized.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Leyland C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Annual Review of Education, Communication and Language Science

Year: 2011

Volume: 8

Pages: 25-45

ISSN (print): 1743-159X

Publisher: School of Education, Communication, and Language Sciences (ECLS), Newcastle University



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