‘The emergence of different varieties of English worldwide has been one of the most striking consequences of colonization. ‘ Discuss. Introduction: In the 16th century, English was spoken by a relatively small group of people within the shores of British Isles. Notwithstanding, it is now spoken in the majority of countries around the world. Crystal (2002) listed all territories along with the approximate numbers of English speakers (including first language and second language speakers). It was found that the number of L2 speakers shapely increased from 235 million in 1997 to over 430 million in 2003.
Along with the ever-growing number of people speaking English in the blooming number of places around the world, it is undisputable that the language is diversifying and ‘English’ has becoming ‘Englishes’. At the beginning, English is learnt by local people as second or additional language. When the time goes by, the new varieties of English will be invented and be learnt by young folks. Platt el al. (1984) tried to collect some examples of the divergences between English and Englishes in terms of 4 aspects: pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and discourse style.
In this essay, colonization, the most significant contributor giving rise to the occurrence of varieties of English, will be illustrated and discussed, accompanied by some examples explaining the differences (mainly vocabulary differences). Introduction and the development of colonization: In fact, colonial activity originated in the end of 12th century within British Isles. Nevertheless, the most enormous expansion of English occurred when the colonial development was extended beyond the British Isles in approximately 16th century. Therefore, the focus will be put in this field in the following.
First, there different types of colonization will be illuminated. They are namely displacement, subjection and replacement. Displacement is characterized by the huge numbers of settlement by mother-tongue speakers of English displacing the pre-colonial population. Subjection is regarded as the small number of colonial settlements staying in the pre-colonial population, approving some of them access to learning English. Replacement is referred to the situation that a pre-colonial population was replaced by new workers or labors from elsewhere, especially West Africa.
Detailed elaboration of how colonization affects the language use in the pre-colonial area and eventually generates different Englishes: 1) Displacement In this section, three types of colonization will be elaborated step by step. Meanwhile, examples will be given according to specific colonial type. First, in the field of displacement, North America is the most suitable example to demonstrate it. In early 17th century there was the first wave of settlement in which the settlers are English speakers. In 1607 the colony of Jamestown was established with a small number of settlers.
Then settlers expanded their expedition to settle in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620. In calculation, there were approximately 25,000 Europeans who had migrated to North America within twenty years. This substantial settlement contributes to the characteristic of displacement. The new variety of English, inevitably, was said to be implanted in North America named as American English. In fact, although American and British English still share lots of common features, divergences between these two varieties of English kept increasing.
Marckwardt (1958) suggested that this phenomenon could be explained by colonial lag, which means that the language of colonial settlers is, to a certain extent, more ‘conservation’ than that of the country they departed. One example is the pronunciation of /r/ as the feature of American English like dark and cart. It can be explained by the fact that /r/ was usually pronounced in Elizabethan English. Though the speech of Londoners then became /r/-less, there was no influence to those who had already left. Another aspect which may affect the English of American colony is dialect leveling.