Friday, 8 April 2011



This course introduces the students of English to the historical development of English Language, through its three major phases; Old English Middle English and Modern English.

The course further examines the global spread of English Language and variation across time and variation across space.

The course covers five modules


Preface ............................................................................ 3

1.0 Language Variation …………………………………………… 4

1.1 Accent ………………………………...………………. 4

1.2 Dialect …………………………………………………. 5

1.3 Regional variation ……………………………………... 8

1.4 Social Variation ………………………………………. . 8

1.5 Personal Variation …………………………………….. 8

2.0 History of English and variation across time …………………. 9

2.1 Old English ……………………………………………. 10

2.2 Middle English ………………………………………… 14

2.3 Modern English ……………………………………….. 16

3.0 Global Spread of English and Variation across Space ………… 21

3.1 Inner circle. ………………………………………........ 21

3.2 Outer Circle…………………………………………….. 21

3.3 Expanding Circle……………………………………….. 21

3.4 Native varieties of English……………………………… 23

3.5 Non-Native varieties of English……………………….. 27

4.0 Standard vs. Non Standard English…………………………….. 29

5.0 The status of English in the World…………………………….. ..31

This Handbook has been prepared by MWITER SAMSON

The University of Dodoma


For comments send to .



The history and dialects of English is the second handout produced by Mwita Samson a student of Dodoma University pursuing BA-ED major in English. The forces behind the production of this handout being chiefly the fact that many students of English complain and consider this course to be one of the most difficult courses they have ever come across. Having thought critically, I arrived at a conclusion that, probably it is due to the lack of the adequate materials to help in the digestion of the course. In addition, probably due to the fact that the only available materials may seem complicated and difficult to easily comprehend. Considering this, this handout has been compiled to its simplest level that every student will find easy to follow. Where possible, local examples and names have been used for easy comprehension of the concept.

I would like to urge the students taking English to read it from time to time and it will help them shape their perspective over the course. It will also help them in doing their assignments, seminar questions and above all answer their University Exam.

For any inconvenience in this handout, please take it as a mistake that can be done by anyone else, however, I encourage my readers to give me the feedback on the usefulness and uselessness, strengths and weaknesses of this handout, and above all the suggestions to improve further works. This can accurately be done by simply sending your comments to any of the following contacts



Cell. 0712 504 704 or 0765 65 68 00

Also you may visit to enrich yourself with some of the materials that

you will find relevant to your needs.

March 2011 production


I would like to genuinely, pass my heartfelt thanks to the following people, whose contribution to the production of this handout has been of paramount importance, and without whose support the production would have been virtually impossible. These are none other than Mr Elia Kessy Innocent, Mr Ndabakurane and Mr Mbalamwezi (Phonology) all from the University of Dodoma, Department of Foreign Languages, and Literature. Their support was chiefly seen first, by taking us through the course, and secondly, by giving us some basic books to read for the comprehension of the course, some of which have been cited in this work.

In addition, I would like to thank the Microsoft Encarta, for some of the materials included in this work are their product. Further thanks to my co-students for their willingness to lend me their books that I needed to produce this handout, the following should not be left unmentioned: Gema Kessi J, Honesta Ndakidemi,M and Ibrahim Maiga S. I may not remember all, but suffice it to say that I thank them all though their names may not appear in this acknowledgement.

TO GOD BE THE GLORY wwww.http//



In phonetics, Accent refers to the features of pronunciation that signal the speaker’s background.

Accent also refers to the way in which a speaker pronounces and therefore refers to the variety, which is phonetically and/or phonologically different from other varieties. Chambers & Trudgill (1980:5).

Accents of English differ in many aspects

Eg (i) Number of vowel phonemes

(ii) Rhoticity; There are Rhotic and Non Rhotic accents

(iii) Some are highly described in literature and some are not

Within a principle accent of English it is possible to contrast two or more minor accents; E.g. within East African Kiswahili accent, one can identify Kenyan Accent, Ugandan Accent and Tanzanian Accent. However, within Tanzanian accent there can also be minor accents like Lake Zone accent, Eastern zone accent, Northern accent etc.


In England, there is a considerable variation within the accents of English. There is so much variation that it is so difficult to apply the term British English in spoken English. Accents of English in Britain can be subdivided into.

a) England English accent which comprise:

  • Southern England accents
  • Midlands England English accents
  • North English accents which are further divided into
    • Yorkshire
    • Lancashire
    • Native London Accent (cockney) and
    • West country accent

b) In Scotland, there is Scottish English and the closely related accents of Scots languages

c) In Wales, Welish English is spoken

d) In North Ireland, Irish English is spoken.


It originated in the South East England in the royal family, the area around London between 15th C-16th C. it first emerged in the royal court of the monarchy, but today it does not belong to any region. It is accepted around the British Isles. Although the British society has changed, RP is no longer the accent of the upper class but at least used by educated, professionals, rich etc. Only 3% of English speaking population speak RP.

It is also used as a model of teaching and learning in many countries.

It is taught to foreign learners because it is considered the most prestigious and most beautiful accent. Originally, it had been used in radio and TVs consequently it is called the BBC accent.

Characteristics of RP

  • It is a non-Rhotic accent. /r/ is not pronounced when it appears in the final position and before consonants. Eg car /ka:/
  • It uses the dark /ɫ/ when it occurs at the end of a syllable, or before another consonant. In other phonetic environment, it is clear. Eg feel/fi:ɫ/ compare leave /li:v/
  • It does not have yod-dropping after the sounds /n/, /t/ and /d/ eg in AmE new /nu:/, tune /tu:n/ and dune /du:n/ are pronounced as /nju:/, /tju:n/ and dju:n/ respectively in RP
  • The /t/ has a strong aspiration when in initial or final position. Eg top /t ͪ ɒp/ compare stop /stɒp/, also sport /spͻ:t ͪͪ /
  • It is rich in phonemes. It has 20 vowels and 24 consonants.
  • It is posh i.e. it is said to be palatable and easy to learn.
  • It is a regionless accent.


It was brought to America by British colonizers in the 17th C. It can be divided into Eastern, Southern and General America.

Eastern refers to the non-rhotic accents of, Boston and East New England, the New York City and Southern refer to the non-rhotic accents of the lowland and South.

General America accent includes a majority of American accents, which do not show marked Eastern or Southern characteristics including those deriving from Northern speech of Hudson Valley of Upstate New York and those deriving from the midland speech of Pennsylvania. Sometimes General America is referred to as the Network English because it is the one commonly used in TVs and radio stations.

Characteristics of AmE accent

  • One notable characteristic of American speech is the pronunciation or /r/when final in a word or before a consonant sound. Eg car /ka:r/
  • The sound /ɑ:/ and /ɒ/ merge to the extent that words like father and bother are pronounced with the same sound. /ɑ:/ in father /fɑ: ðǝr/ and bɑ:ðǝr/
  • The PR diphthong /ǝʊ/ is pronounced as /oʊ/ in AmE as in go/ goʊ/


It evolved during and after British colonial rule of India for nearly 200 years. English is the co-official language of India with about 100mil Speakers. It comprises several varieties of English, which are primarily spoken in India by the first generation members of Indian Diaspora. In upper class families, English is typically very close to RP.

Features of Indian accent

· The RP vowels / ʌ,ɜ,ǝ/ are all pronounced as /ǝ/ thus the word like first in RP /fɜ:st/ is pronounced as /fǝst/

· General India realizes the diphthong /eɪ/ as /ͻʊ/. So a word like /teɪk/ is pronounced /tͻʊk/ in Indian Eng

· While retaining the velar nasal /ŋ/in the final position, Indian speakers usually include the velar plosive/g/ normally when it occurs after it in words like ringing /rɪŋɪŋ/ as /rɪŋgɪŋ/

· The voiceless sounds /p/, /t/, /k/ while are normally aspirated in RP at the word initial position are not aspirated in Indian English.

· In Indian English the alveolar trill /r/ is spoken as a flap /ɾ/

· Bilabial approximant /w/ becomes more of a labial-dental such that words like ‘when’ and ‘where’ are pronounced as /vhen/ and /vheǝ/ respectively.

· The /h/ is not dropped. Eg in BrE when /wen/ is /vhen/in Indian Eng.

· Normally the Indians do not make distinction between an apical /t/ and interdental voiceless /ɵ/ to the extent that bat/bæt/ and bath /bæƟ/ are pronounced as /bæt/ in Indian Eng.


Dialect goes far beyond pronunciation to grammar and vocabulary. Chambers & Trudgill (1980:5) consider dialects as varieties, which are grammatically (and perhaps lexically) as well as phonologically different from other varieties.

Stewart & Vaillet (2001:301) define a dialect as any variety of language spoken by a group of people that is characterized by systematic differences from other varieties of the same language in terms of structural or lexical features.

Dialect refers to features of grammar and vocabulary in addition to pronunciation that can identify someone’s geographical origin. Eg

I done it yesterday

They really good. (Am E)

I did it yesterday

They are really good. (Br E)

Speakers who have distinctive regional dialect will have distinctive regional accent

In Dialectology, dialects are considered as substandard, but in Linguistics, that is not the case. Dialect can be defined as a variant of the language distinguished by minimal lexical, grammatical, and phonological differences.

A dialect is also applied to forms of language particularly those spoken in more isolated parts of the world which have no written form. In contrast to that view, we must accept the notion that all speakers are speakers of at least one dialect, that Standard English for example is just as much a dialect as any other form of English and in no sense, one dialect is in any way superior to any other. (Dialects are dealt with in depth in module 3)


The attempt to distinguish language and dialect has always been a controversial issue. Dialects and language are not to be taken as well defined separate entities but frequently they merge into one another without any discrete break.

One way of distinguishing Language from Dialect has been to say, “Language is a collection of mutually intelligible dialects” Chambers & Trudgill (1980:4), Vaillet & Stewart (2001). That means speakers from different dialects of the same language can considerably understand each other quite well, though it may not be for 100%.

The definition above characterises the dialects as subparts of the Language. This criterion of Mutual intelligibility may have some relevance, but it does not help us to decide what is and what is not a language.

Thus, it is not so easy to say whether two language varieties are dialects of the same language or different languages. This leads to the fact that the consideration of what is and what is not a language is based on the reasons that are non-linguistic rather than linguistic.

To internalize this concept lets begin by examining the following cases.

If we consider first the Scandinavian Languages, we observe that Norwegian, Swedish and Danish are usually considered different languages; unfortunately for our definition they are mutually intelligible. Vaillet & Stewart (2001). The speakers of the three languages can readily understand and communicate with one another.

Secondly, German is considered a single language, but there are some parts of Germany, that are not intelligible to speakers of other parts.

Our definition then would have it that Danish is less than a language while German is more than a language. (ibid)

It is however true that many Swedes can very readily understand many Norwegians, it is also clear that, they do not understand them so well as they do other Swedes.

For this reason, inter-Scandinavian mutual intelligibility can be less than perfect and allowances have to be made.

Ø Speakers may speak more slowly

Ø Speakers may omit some words and pronunciation they suspect may cause difficulties.

Mutual intelligibility may not be equal in both directions. It is often said that; the Danes understand Norwegians better than the Norwegians understand Danes. This may be the result of:

v Norwegian is pronounced like Danish is spelt

v Listener’s degree of exposure to the other language

v Their degree of education

v Interestingly enough, their willingness to understand.

It is relevant that the three Scandinavian languages have distinct codified, standardized forms with their own orthographies, grammar books and literature that correspond to three different states and thus their speakers consider that they speak different languages. Vaillet & Stewart (2003).

In some areas, both political and cultural factors may be used to dichotomize a language from a dialect. This case exists in America Southwest where Papago and Pima are spoken. The two native American varieties are mutually intelligible, but because the two tribes regard themselves as politically and culturally distinct, they consider their respective languages to be distinct as well. (ibid: 302)

In China Mandarin is spoken in the Northern Province and Cantonese spoken in the Southern Province of Kwang Tung. In spoken form, these varieties are not mutually intelligible; the speakers of these two varieties however consider them dialects of the same language because they share a common writing system and are therefore mutually intelligible in written form.

In some cases when two varieties fall into two distinct political and geographical borders they are termed as different languages, no matter how intelligible they might be. This situation exists near the border of Holland and Germany where the dialects of either sides of the national borders are mutually intelligible. Because of international borders (and probably political and cultural considerations), speakers of these languages regard them as different languages.

This is a result of Dialect Continuum- a situation in which a large number of contiguous dialects, each dialect is closely related to the next but the dialects at either end of the continuum (scale) are mutually unintelligible. . Vaillet & Stewart (2003:304).

Consider the following example;

Dialect A----- Dialect B---------Dialect C------- Dialect D-------- Dialect E

If we have dialects in the above order in a geographical setting, dialect A will be intelligible to B which will also be intelligible to C, which will also be intelligible to D, which will also be intelligible to E, but A and E are unintelligible.

Therefore, if D and E fall onto two geographical borders (though they are intelligible) they will be considered different languages. Nevertheless, A and E (though unintelligible) if they fall into the same geographical borders they will be considered the dialects of the same language.

In Tanzania the case exist between the Sukuma and Nyamwezi, these two varieties are mutually intelligible, but since the speakers of these varieties fall into distinct tribes with different cultural backgrounds, they consider their varieties different languages as well. A contrary feature exists among the Chagga. Although they consider themselves as speaking the same language, Chagga language is mutually unintelligible across all its dialects. Based on the considerations such as common cultural and historical background the speakers of these dialects are all said to speak Chagga

The survey of the scenarios above suggests that we have to recognize that paradoxically enough “a language” is not a linguistic notion at all. The term language from linguistic point of view is a non-technical term instead; the term variety can be used. Eg we can refer to variety like

· Lancashire English

· Yorkshire English

· Middle Class Leeds English and so on

Differences between Language and Dialect

In sociolinguistics, the following criteria have been used to distinguish the two

1. Size.

A language is larger than a dialect in geographical dispersion and number of speakers

2. Prestige.

Language is more prestigious than a dialect

3. Intelligibility.

Dialects are mutually intelligible while languages are not (though not always the case) wwww.http//


The combination of differences in pronunciation and use of local words may make some of English dialects almost unintelligible from one region to another. That means the greater the geographical dispersion the greater the difficult of comprehension. The dialects may be linked together in the chain of mutual intelligibility, and at no point is there a complete break in such a way that the adjacent dialects geographically are not mutually intelligible. This situation is known as Geographical Dialect Continuum.

When people from different places/background meet and their speech becomes alike, that situation is known as Convergence or Accommodation

A situation in which people with different social and geographical background meet and one imitate the speech of the other is known as Convergence Strategy. On the other hand when people want to maintain a distance in such a way that their speech becomes less alike we talk of Divergence Strategy.

Initially dialects and accents were considered intranational (spoken within British Isles), but as English crossed the borders and was spoken outside England it became international. (consider AmE & BrE)


Social language variation provides the answer to the questions like who are you? Or what are you in the eyes of English speaking society to which you belong. In fact, it is usually language rather than clothing, furnishing, or other externals, which is the chief signal of both permanent and transient aspects of our social identity.

Some aspects of social variation include;

· Age

· Sex

· Social- economic class(income)

· Occupation

· Education

All these have been repeatedly shown to explain the way sounds, constructions, and vocabulary vary. Usually speech stratification correlates with social stratification. Both non-phonetic and phonetic factors may be involved in this stratification.

Britain is usually said to be linguistically much more class conscious than other countries speaking English as a first language. For example, one accent has traditionally stood out above all others in its ability to convey associations of respectable social standing and a good education. This is known as RP. Accents usually tell where one comes from but RP tells only the persons social and educational background.


This is individuality arising from sex, personality, interest, background, experience and physique. Physique and physical condition can influence the person’s voice quality. Education history, personal skills, occupational experiences can also foster these variations. This form of language as spoken by one person is technically known as idiolect. Stewart & Vaillet (2001) wwww.http//


The English language as we know it today has come a long way. Some speakers of Germanic languages started it. The history of English can be traced from the invasion of three Germanic tribes; Angles, Saxon and Jutes. After the invasion the Celts, a people who dominated much of western and central Europe in the 1st millennium bc, giving their language, customs, and religion to the other peoples of that area, were pushed to Scotland, Wells, Cornwall, and Ireland.

It is believed that in ancient time there was only one language known as Proto-world, then it split into some languages spoken in Europe known as Proto-Indo-European.(PIE). PIE gave birth to many other daughter languages, including, Indo-Iranian, Slavic, Latin, Greek, Baltic, Celtic, and Germanic. Of all languages, English came from the family of Germanic languages.

In their structure and evolution, they fall into three branches:

1. East Germanic (extinct): the Gothic language and some other extinct languages. Substantial information survives only for Gothic.

2. North Germanic: West Scandinavian group includes—the Icelandic language, the Nynorsk Norwegian language, and Faroese; East Scandinavian group includes—the Danish language, Bokmål Norwegian, and the Swedish language.

3. West Germanic, the largest group in this category: English group—the English language and Scots ,Frisian group—the Frisian language; Low Saxon-Low Frankonian group-the Dutch Language, the Flemish Language, Low German (Plattdeutsch), and Afrikaans; High German group—the German language or High German, the Yiddish language, and others. Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2007.

By the invasion of three Germanic tribes in the 5th C, English got into British Isles. These tribes came from the area called German. They spoke languages like Anglo-Frisian, gothic, Norwegian, Danish, Netherlandic and old Islamic

Through the procedure called Comparative Method it is possible to re-construct what has been the original or ancestral language. Below are some of linguistic principles used to arrive to the conclusion.

1. The majority principle. First construct a cognate set, if in a cognate set 3 forms begin with the same sound say [p] and only one begins with a different sound say [b], the assumption is that the three languages have maintained the original form while the forth one has diverged.

2. The most natural development principle. Based on the assumption that some sound changes of some words are very common. The documented sound change suggests that.

a. The final vowel normally disappears. Therefore, the word that keeps the vowel has the correspondence to the original language. (if there are two words one with and the other without a vowel)

Eg Old Eng Middle Eng Modern Eng

sōftɛ sͻftǝ soft

b. Voiceless sounds becomes voiced between vowels and before voiced consonants

c. Stops become fricatives between vowel

d. Consonants become palatalized between front vowels.

e. Oral vowels become nasalized before nasals

f. Consonants become voiceless at the end of the word.

g. Difficult consonant clusters are made easier

Eg Old Eng Middle Eng Modern Eng

Cræbba crabɑ crab wwww.http//


This period extends from about 450 to 1066, the year of the Norman conquest of England. The Germanic tribes from Europe who overran England in the 5th century, after the Roman withdrawal, brought with them the Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, language, which is the basis of Modern English. They brought also a specific poetic tradition, the formal character of which remained surprisingly constant until the termination of their rule by the Norman-French invaders six centuries later.

The people who invaded were called Angles out of which we get the names England and English. At the time, there emerged four dialects of Old English based on the Anglo-Saxon tribe divisions. These dialects were;

  • Northumbrian –In the North of England
  • Mercian-In the Midland
  • Kentish-In the South East
  • West-Saxon- In the South-West.



Old English Alphabet was very similar to the one still in use today. A few letters were different in shape.

Ø There was an elongated shape for letter ‘s’

Ø Modern letter ‘g’ appeared as ʓ and it was called a ‘yogh’.

Ø Several modern letters were not there- ‘j’ was spelt with ʓ and ‘v’ while ‘f, q, x, z’ were rarely used in writing.

Ø The letter Ҩ was called ‘ash’

Ø There was a letter þ called a ‘thorn’ borrowed from runic alphabets and was used interchangeably with ð called ‘eth’ as letter. They represented the sounds [θ][ð]. They were used in the words like

baþian- to bathe [θ]

baðian – to bathe [ð]

þes-this [ð]

Ø In old English numbers were written in Roman Symbols, Arabic numerals came later.

Ø In Old English there were 24 letters

ɑ, æ, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, þ, ð, u, w, y.

Ø There were no Universal Alphabet Rules.

Ø Several of these letters were used in combination to represent a single sound. E.g. ‘th’ and ‘ea’ as in meat.

Ø The use of single or double consonants.

Ø These sounds were used interchangeably

§ Ҩ-----ɑ-----æ.= ɑt----Ҩt

§ þ-----ð = ōþer-----ōðer [other], þurh------ðurh [through]

§ i------y= eg hit---hyt


Some of the old English vocabulary may look like the modern vocabulary but some may look different.


Singan sing

stōd stood

ondswarede answered

onslepte asleep

Compare the following

gelimplice suitable

neata cattle

swefn dream

Most of the prepositions and pronouns are identical in form though not always in meaning

eg for,



at / Ҩt

he, him, his,

Some words look identical to the Morden English but they do not refer exactly to the meaning they have today.

E.g. wɪf – wife

In OE it referred to any woman-married or not.

Particular care must be taken with words, which look similar

Look at the following words

Ø Fugol (fowl)

In MoE= a farmyard one

In OE = meant any bird

Ø Sōna (soon)

In OE= immediately

In MoE= little while

Ø Fæst (fast)

In OE = fixed/firm

In MoE= quick/rapidly

Ø Brȇd (bread)

In OE=bit, piece

In MoE=bread

Ø drȇɑm (dream)

In OE= joy

In MoE=dream

Ø Sellan (Sell)

In OE= give

In MoE= sell


The major word formation processes involved compounding, affixation and borrowing.


dҨg(day) +red= dҨgred(dawn)


rōd(cross)+fæstinian(fasten)= rōdfæstinian(crucify)

sunnan(suns)+dæg(day) = sunnandæg (Sunday)

stæfæ(letters)+cræft(craft)= stæfcræft(grammar)

gōd(god)+spell(tiding) –gōdspel(gospel)



tōgān go into

þurhgān go through

undergān undergo

utgān go out

wiþgān go against

forþgān go forth

ingān go in


Missionary influence resulted into many Latin words coming into OE. New vocabularies were religious meant for church and church services. Other words were biological, domestic, and most of them have survived to MoE. E.g. alms, anchor, pope, ark, priest, prophet etc.

Some words had something to do with plants, domestic items, drinks, animals, food, cloths, household items etc

Eg pise (pea), plante (plant), disc (dish), win (wine), cyse(cheese)

  • Clothing like cemes (shirt)
  • Building/settlement= tigle(tile), weall(wall), ceaster (city)
  • Military/Legal institutions= wic (camp), scrifan (decree)

Celtic borrowings.

There is little Celtic influence because most of them were pushed to other places. OE borrowed few proper nouns from Celtic mostly those which described geographical features

Eg Aberdeen= mouth of Dee

Inch cape=Island of Cape

Cragcumb=Deep Valley


Some words like London survived to Modern English


It is very difficult to accurately tell how old English sounded like. However, we can rely on account with contemporary writers. There are no documented linguistic resources showing how the language has changed overtime.

· In OE, there was strong correspondence between graphemes and phonemes.

· There were no arbitrary rules for standardized spellings.

· There were no silent letters. i.e. every letter was pronounced e.g. writan (write)

· In words with double consonants both of them were pronounced or held longer. That means in OE, there were some instances of long and short consonants. Thus OE can be thought to be much more phonological.

· There were many cases in which sounds were represented by different spellings.

· OE had 7 short and 7 long vowel phonemes, all represented by seven vowel symbols, long vowels are usually marked by a “macron”.

§ E.g. wĪf, fȇl

· The length also determined the different meanings.

o Eg is-----is

o Ῑs-----ice

o ge ------and

o gȇ-------you


a) [f], [s], [þ] and [ð]

These four consonants were realized as

1. [v] [z] and [ð] between voiced sounds eg hafde(had) tȇosan

2. [f] [s] and [θ] elsewhere eg ōf, þorn

b) [c] was realized as

1[k] next to a back vowel and before consonants

Eg bōc – (book)

Climban—(to climb)

2 [ʧ] next to a front vowel eg Cild – (child)

c) [g] was realized as

1 [g] before consonants, initially before back vowels and in a letter combination ‘ng

Eg gōs-goose

Bringan—to bring

2.[j], usually before or after a front vowel.

Eg gecoren—(chosen)

3 [ɤ+] velar fricatives- elsewhere

Eg sorgian

d) [h] was realized as

1[Χ]velar fricative after back vowels.

Eg brohte (brought)

2[ҫ] a palatal fricative after front vowels.

Eg niht (night)

3 [h] syllable initially

Eg hlāf (loaf)

e) [cg] was realized as


f) [sc] was realized as

[ʃ] eg Englisc (English}

The doubling of consonants in OE indicated length. In OE, stress was different from MoE since it was always on the first syllable of the word though there were some exceptions like, if the word did no contain any prefix.

  • Words beginning with a prefix like ge-, were accented on the 2nd syllable.
  • Nouns and adjectives beginning with a prefix were accented on the prefixes
  • Verbs beginning with the prefixes were accented in the next syllable after the prefix


OE is believed to follow the trends of Subjects-Verb-Objects [SVO] as in MoE but the difference lies on the fact that SVO in OE was not so strict as in MoE. In OE, word order was not important to determine the meaning of a clause.

In modern English for Example

Mwiter beat Bhoke

Bhoke beat Mwiter


The Object in sentence one has changed to be the Subject in sentence two. This was not the case in OE. In OE, inflections mattered. The inflections placed on the words determined the meaning and no matter where the word appeared, it retained the meaning. Like other Germanic Languages OE was inflected and the job the word did in a clause was signalled by the endings of the words. (Inflections). But today most of these inflections have died away.

The varying forms of Adjectives, nouns, articles etc. told how the parts of the clause related to each other. E.g.

1. The woman saw the man

2. The man saw the woman

1. sȇo cwen geseah þone guman

2. se guma geseah þā cwen

1The nominative feminine case sȇo cwen has changed to accusative þā cwen

2 The accusative masculine þone guman has changed to be nominative se guma.

It is always clear, who is doing what, to whom, regardless of the word order.

We can also say

1. sȇo cwen geseah þone guman

2 þone guman geseah sȇo cwen


v The grammar of OE was similar to that of German. It had 4 cases;

1. Nominative case (Subject)

2. Accusative case (Object)

3. Dative Case (Indirect Object)

4. Genitive case (Possessive)

v OE was inflected and the kind of ending signalled what it did.

v Nouns, verbs, adjectives, and pronouns, took different forms e.g.

I gave her a book (object)

Her book is lost (possessive)

v Adjectives, prepositions, articles and other grammatical words always went before their nouns.

v OE had grammatical gender as opposed to natural gender. A noun could be masculine, feminine or neuter. The criteria for assigning this gender are not clearly indicated

o Eg masculine

o Se wɪfman - the woman

o Se mete - the food

o Se mona - the moon

o Feminine

o sȇo hlaefdige - the lady

o sȇo record - the meal


The event of Norman Conquest is very important when addressing the issue of MdE. The periodization of the conquest was intense in 1066. This year does not signify the boundary between OE and MdE. OE continued to be used for sometimes until it reached 1100 when the language had greatly changed that it was impossible to talk of OE

In 1066, William the conqueror, the Duke of Norman invaded and conquered England. The new conquerors brought in the kind of French which became the language of loyal court, business etc. At that time, there was linguistic variation where the lower class spoke English, while the upper class spoke French

In 1204, King John the Ruler of England lost the province to Philip King of France. King Philip of France chose England and English as their Native tongue (A modified English). At that time, English started to gain status again and became the language of the nobility. In the 14thC English became dominant again in Britain but with many French words added. This was the time of the great poet Chaucer (1340-1400).

By 1362, the linguistic division between the nobility and the commoners was over. English became the language of the court, parliament etc


It is estimated that 10,000 words came into English at that time. These had to do with Mechanisms of law, fashion, Medicine, Arts, and Administration. Over 70% were nouns and a large number of them were abstract terms constructed using such new French affixes like con-, trans-, pre-, -ance, -tion, -ment.

About ¾ 0f all, the French loanwords are still in the language today. There are many cases of duplication as new words came, plus those, which had already existed in English. The new words could probably not exactly mean the same with the old. Eg mansion and house sometime the new word could replace the old and the replaced/supplanted word disappeared. Sometimes both the two words could co-exist.

The supplant included


Leod people

Wliting beautiful

Stow place

In this way, hundreds of OE words were lost as they were supplanted by French words.

The co-existing include


Doom judgement

Hearty cordial

House mansion


The OE spellings ‘ɑ, o, u and e’ in unstressed syllables fell together to ‘e’ in MdE


Lāma lāme lame

Fāran fāren to fare

Stānas stōnes stones

Nācod naked naked

Double vowel letters came to be used to indicate long vowel sounds.


Rōd rood

Fēt feet

A few consonants changed according to their association with vowels. Eg ‘g’ and ‘h’

The sound [g] after a front vowel [i], [e] and [æ] became [i]


Sægde sæide said

The letter ‘h’ if not initial also changed to [i]


ehta eighte eight

v French loanwords introduced new diphthongs in the form of /oɪ/, /uɪɪ/ unusual sounds of English in sound system. These are the ancestors of modern /ͻɪ/ in words like, enjoy, joy, point etc

v The sound [h] which appeared before the consonant at the beginning of many English words also disappeared. Eg hring (ring), hnecca(neck), hlāf – lōf- (loaf), hwætɛ - wǣtǝ, - (wheat).

This was the first sign of aitch dropping, which is still present today.

v Loss of ‘h’ before a vowel began much later in MdE and produced variation in usage, which proceeded into 16thC.

v Emergence of [v] as a contrasting sound thus distinguishing pairs of words as it does today

Eg feel v/s veal

v The sound [f] and [v] were in OE but did not differentiate words

v French influence caused [s] and [z] to be contrastive eg (seal and zeal)

The study of Middle English phonology is made increasingly difficult by the intricate dialect situation. On the other hand, a letter might be given different pronunciation depending on the dialect area in which it appeared.

Eg ‘y’ became unrounded in the South dialects.

‘y’ was pronounced as a rounded sound quality in the North.

[X] was spelt in the middle of words as

‘gh’ (night) in the North

‘ch’ (nicht) in the South wwww.http//


Several consonant sounds came to be spelt differently especially due to French influence.

  • In OE ‘sc’ /ʃ/ is replaced by ‘sh’ or ‘sch’ in middle English eg scip –ship, schedule- /ʃedjul/
  • OE ‘c’ was pronounced as / ʧ /which was replaced by ch or cch in MdE. Eg Church
  • OE ‘cg’ or ‘gg’ became ‘dg’ in MdE eg bricge-bridge, ecge—edge.
  • New conversions for showing long and short vowel also developed.

Long vowel sounds came to be marked by an extra letter

eg see, in OE was Sē

booc was bōc

  • Short vowels were identified by consonant doubling in cases where there might be confusion. Eg OE ‘siting’ became sitting in MdE
  • Loss of unstressed vowels that originally, distinguished inflectional endings.

Eg stane {OE} – stone {MoE}

  • Although the final [ǝ] disappeared, the ‘e’ spelling remained and it was used to show that the preceding vowel was long. This is the origin of modern spelling rules about silent ‘e’ in words like name, nose, come, smile, change, improve, etc


Loss of inflectional endings. The most important grammatical development was establishment of fixed patterns of word order to express the relationship between clause elements based on SVO.

The arrangement of SVO was consolidated and extended to other arrangements like SVOO, SVOA


The dialects correspond to those in OE but Scholars have assigned different names to some of the dialects.

1 Kentish- remained as in OE

2 West Saxon- was then referred to as Southern

3 Northumbrian- became Northern

4Mercian split into two dialects

v Easten dialect (East Midland)

v Western dialect (West Midland)

Thus the dialects in Middle English were

1- Kentish Dialect

2- Southern Dialect

3- Northern Dialect

4- East Midland Dialect

5- West Midland Dialect


Modern English is categorised by scholars into two phases. The reason being the fact that from the period MoE is believed to have started there are notable changes in the language as compared to the one used today.


Its periodization is from1500 to 1800. However, there is no consensus about when the Early Modern English began. It came during Renaissance; this was the period from the time of Caxton until around 1560, which included Reformation and European exploration of Africa and America wwww.http//

During the Renaissance deliberate borrowings from Latin, Greek etc was made into English language. Therefore, the increase in foreign borrowing is the main distinctive sign during the Renaissance. This is the English of William Shakespeare. It was within this time that Shakespeare introduced a number of words in English . (About 2000 words)



This was a massive sound change affecting the long vowels of English during the 15thC– 18thC.

The GVS had long-term implication among other things, orthography, pronunciation etc.

This was introduced by Otto Jespersen a Scandinavian philologists who made major contributions to the study of the English language. The writing was done in hand but later books were written


In 1476 A.D, William Caxton (c.1422-1491), English merchant and diplomat turned to writing and translating and set up the first printing press in England. The new invention gave chance to the formation of standard language and the studying of its properties. Apart from its role in strengthening the norms of spelling and punctuation, the availability of printing provided more opportunities for people to write and gave their works a wider circulation. One of the developments was the publication of a Dictionary in 1604 AD.

Caxton was in fact a merchant and not a linguist but he made the translation of the Recuyell [Compilation] of the Historyes of Troye. This, the first printed book in English, it was published probably in 1475 and later in the same year he issued his second book—another translation by himself from French, The Game and Playe of the Chesse (in which chess is treated as an allegory of life. In all, Caxton printed about 100 books, some 20 of which were translated from French or Dutch, on subjects that included history and geography, the lives of saints, fables, and instructional books (for example, on good manners and learning French). Microsoft Encarta 2007.


There were actually no words to accurately talk about the new concepts, techniques, and inventions which were coming from Europe. so, many writers began to borrow them. Most of the words that entered the language at the time were taken from different languages.

E.g. Latin, - autography, parasite, temperature, etc

Greek – utopian, chaos, monopoly.

Italy, - balcony, concerto

Spanish-, alligator, canoe

Portuguese – banana, tobacco, maize.

During exploration, words came into English from over 50 languages including several indigenous of North America, Asia and Africa. The words came into English through three ways.

· Intermediate languages

· Directly from original language to English

· Indirectly via other languages – e.g. from Latin via French then to English.


These were foreign words, which were borrowed because of mere prestige. Most of them were borrowed from Latin.

The reasons for borrowing these terms.

  • Necessity/Utilitarian reasons.

Any language will need new words to name or say new things. wwww.http//

  • Sheer Ostentation.

They borrowed these words also for skills, wealth, and knowledge. Latin loanwords were taken by some people to be a sign of education and social superiority keeping them off from the common people. These used strange and pompous words even where good English expressions already existed.

Examples of Inkhorn terms

Furibund---- furious

Lubrical ---- smooth

Turgidous --- swollen

However, purists opposed the new Inkhorn terms condemning them for obscurity and interfering with the development of Native English Vocabulary.


Latin influence caused some of the existing words to be re-shaped in accordance with the real or supposed Latin Etymology.

Eg debt (dette)

Doubt (doute)

Similarly, during the Renaissance, ‘p’ was inserted into the word Receipt and ‘c’ in the word indict. Some other words were spelt differently in the MdE period.

Eg MdE E MoE

Assaut assault

Aventure adventure

Descrive describe

Parfit perfect

Verdit Verdict


  • There was an increased use of double vowel, as in soon or silent ‘e’ to mark length of the vowel. Eg name
  • The double consonant within a word became a more predictable sign of a preceding short vowel eg sitting.
  • Capitalization at the beginning of every sentence, proper nouns and important common nouns came into use.


The basis of modern punctuation system emerged during the Renaissance Period.

The marks emerged in English Renaissance Printing.

  • Semi colon (;) (Comma colon, sub-colon) came into use during the 16thC and for a while was used interchangeably with a colon (:).
  • Turned double comma later called- quotation marks (“ ”) they are used in direct speech.
  • Not only did new symbols emerge, older symbols developed new uses. E.g. the apostrophe(’) extended its use to
    • Marking the genitive singular of nouns. E.g. John’s
    • Marking the genitive plural eg students’

By the end of Early Modern English period, the modern punctuation system was in most respect established. wwww.http//


It is greatly accepted that two most important influences on the development of the language during the final decades of the Renaissance are the works of W. Shakespeare (1564-1616) and the King James Bible (1611)

{a} Influence of Shakespeare, W

The influence of Shakespeare was mostly in the lexicon. His works provided countless instances of the way English was developing at the time and illustrations from his poems and plays are unavoidable in any discussion of contemporary pronunciation, word formation, syntax and language use.

Observations from his works

· Lexical items

There are many words first recorded in Shakespeare which have survived into late Modern English e.g. accommodation, assassination, bare-faced, countless, courtship, dislocate, submerged, dwindle, fancy-free, lack-lustre, laughable, pre-meditated etc.

Some words were recorded in Shakespeare but they have not survived. About 1/3 words of Latinate origin fall under this category e.g. abruption, appertainments, cadent, exsufflicate, etc

· Idiomatic expression

Idioms were introduced by Shakespeare and have become part of idiomatic expression of the Modern English.

E.g. ‘brevity is the soul of wit’

‘Love is blind’

‘As good luck would have it’

· Hyphenation

Any study of Shakespeare’s lexicon (vocabulary) would be inadequate if it did not draw attention to his use of Hyphenated compounds.

E.g. hugger-mugger




{b} influence of King James Bible

King James Bible was published in 1611, the year that Shakespeare retired from writing. The bible was appointed to be read in churches throughout the kingdom and it had an influence on the population and on the language.

Observations from King James Bible

· Biblical idioms

There are many general idioms that have been entered into the language

E.g. ‘to spy out the land’

‘Fight the good fight’

· Grammar

o Many irregular verbs are found in their older forms.

Digged (dug)

Gat (got)

Gotten (got)

Bare (bore)

Holpen (helped) wwww.http//

o Older word orders are still in use

Eg follow thou me.

Speak thou unto.

Cakes unleaved and things eternal

o The modern use of ‘do’ with negatives is missing.

E.g. they knew him not= they didn’t know him.

o The 3rd person singular of the present tense of the verb is always ‘eth/es’

E.g. judgeth, posseth, teacheth.

But towards the end of the 18thC the -eth disappeared

o The 2nd person plural pronouns were changing. There were both you and ye

Originally, ‘ye’ was the subject form and ‘you’ was the form used as Object or after a preposition.

E.g. Ye can serve God.

Therefore, I say unto you

His was used for its. E.g. ‘If the salt has lost his savour wherewith shall it be salted?’


During the 18thC, English lost the most noticeable remaining features of structural difference, which distance/separate the Early Modern English and Late Modern English. The distinction between Early MoE and Late MoE is the vocabulary. The vocabularies are more or less the same. Late MoE has many more words arising from two principle factors

  1. Industrial Revolution and Rise of Technology
  2. Rise of British Empire.

Industrial Revolution and the Rise of Technology

Britain was producing new products to colonies and so the inventory of new goods and machines led to introduction of more words. English relied on Latin and Greek words. Eg oxygen, protein, nuclear, etc were coined between 19th C and 20th C. therefore the words were borrowed and coined to fix them into English.

The Rise of British Empire

The emergence of Great Britain as a super power not only introduced English to the world but also the world to English language. During this period English language adopted many foreign words from French, German, Hindi, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, West Africa, Kiswahili etc

This phenomenon has made English to have the largest number of vocabularies in the world.

By the end of 19th C with but a few exceptions, the spellings, punctuations, and grammar are very close to what they are today.

However, despite this apparent continuity, the language at the end of the 18th C, is by no means identical to what we find today. Many words, though spelt the same, had different meaning. wwww.http//


Kachru (1985) describes the spread of English in terms of three concentric circles. He has been observing since 1970s the origin and spread of English in other parts.

Kachru’s concentric circle.


This corresponds to areas where English is spoken as native/first language or mother tongue. Countries in the inner circle are USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. {Also see native varieties of English}


It was primarily made up of the countries that use English as a second language i.e. the earlier phase of English spread. It constitutes the countries where English has a colonial history and where the language has developed institutionalized functions. Hence, English exhibits an extended functional range in the outer circle and is used in various social, educational, administrative, and literary domains.

Most of the countries in the outer circle are the former colonies of UK. E.g. Nigeria, India, Ghana, Singapore, Kenya, Malawi, and some other 50 countries. These are countries with development of new English as a distinct variety of English distinguished in terms of grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, etc {also see non-native varieties of English}


It includes those countries that recognise English as an international language (EIL) or foreign language (EFL). Though these countries do not have colonial historical link with the inner circle, they increasingly support the running of English as international language. These nations include China, Japan, Brazil, Israel, Poland, Egypt, Indonesia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Greece, etc.

The number in the expanding circle is continually increasing or expanding, e.g. Rwanda. It should be noted that there is no distinction between the countries in the circles but there is always overlaps between them. Within one circle, say inner circle there may be people who speak English as 2nd language, likewise in the outer circle there are people using English as foreign language, but other countries are between circles and so their status is not clearly defined. E.g. South Africa is found within the outer circle and expanding circle.

Papua New Guinea and Nigeria have developed varieties of English as Native Language (ENL) and English as International Language (EIL) but the distinction is not clear whether English is a Native language or International language.


  1. It draws our attention to different historical and social issue on the notion of world English e.g. The number of speakers of a language and colonial history.
  2. It raises awareness of and appreciation for the contexts and varieties of English worldwide, and provides a framework for the study of world Englishes.
  3. It indicates trend in the growth of the language. By expanding circle, the growing is very high, in outer circle, there is growth, while inner circle, is always limited.

However, the model is found to have some problems because it does not reflect the reality very closely.


  1. The terms inner and outer circle are discriminatory, because some people are included in while others are out.
  2. The native speaking countries are looked at as the drawback of the model as it seems to imply that the inner circle should be viewed as the source of model of correctness, the best teachers, and services consumed by those in the periphery. Gradol (1997)
  3. The circle lacks elasticity and it is rigid and lack open-ended to give raise to an exchange within the circle. i.e. there is no interaction among the circles.
  1. By locating speakers in specific circles, the model is divisive. It creates linguistic conflicts and insecurity as marginalized group of speakers continues to wrestle with issues of legitimacy and ownership of the language.
  2. There is lack of relationship between the three circles. It does not give us the number of varieties to be spoken in the specific circle. Within the circle, there are many varieties spoken differently, and within one circle, language is not spoken the same way.
  3. It does not provide us with the ways the varieties grow geographically.

Criticism on Kachru’s and Gradol’s Models

The two models do not satisfy us to get out the stereotype view of English. The use of inner and outer circles gives some varieties superiority and others inferiority complex.


These include the varieties spoken by people to whom English is their native language or mother tongue. These are British English (BrE), American English (AmE), Canadian English, Australian English, and New Zealand English.


Is a form of English used in Canada and spoken by more than 19 mil people (in 2000). In many respect the spelling of Canadian English is intermediate between BrE and AmE. It is in many areas influenced by French as Canada has both English and French as official languages


Canadian English spelling is a blend of both British and American conventions. There is no universally accepted standard of Canadian spellings.

· In the following words, Canadian English agrees with British spellings.


Colour color

Endeavour endeavor

Honour honor

· In words like centre, theatre, etc Canadian English agrees with British English

· In the word ‘defence’, Canadian English agrees with BrE.

· The words like tire (AmE)/tyre (BrE) and curb/kerb, CanE agrees with AmE.

· In words like realise /realize (AmE), paralyse / paralyze (AmE), Canadian English agrees with AmE.

· In words like aluminium, programs, carburetor, CanE agrees with AmE.

· In words like cheque/check(AmE), grey,/gray(AmE), jewel, pajamas, storey, sulphur, CanE agrees with BrE.

· In some cases, BrE and AmE may be mixed in different contexts.

o A Canadian would watch a TV program but would read a programme at a concert.

· Canadian spellings sometimes retain the British practice, e.g. doubling the consonants when the suffixes are added or when the final syllable before the suffix is not stressed. E.g. travelling, cancelled.

· Canadian spelling rules can be described by the trade history of Canada. E.g., the words cheque agrees to BrE because Canada had a financial relation in financial institutions with Britain. Tire and automobile agree with AmE because Canada industrial goods are dominated by America


  • When Canadian English share vocabulary with other English dialects, it has to do more with AmE than BrE. But some words are shared by BrE e.g. solicitor
  • Some Standard English vocabularies are not standard Canadian vocabularies.
  • E.g. arse(colour), bloke, bloody, bollocks, candy, car park, cupboards, etc
  • French loanwords in Canadian English, alcool=grain alcohol, serviette= a table napkin
  • Canadianism
    • Canadian English has its own words that are not found in BrE or AmE. In 1998 the Oxford University Press, produced a Canadian English Dictionary called the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, it listed uniquely Canadian words, which included; allophone, parkade, chesterfede, skookum, getton, caribou, kayak, kerosene, mukluk, parka, reeve, etc. these words emanate from borrowing from Native American languages.


  • To table a document=to present it. In AmE it means to withdraw it from consideration
  • There are more than 10000 phrases, and idiomatic expressions listed in Canadian Oxford Dictionary that are uniquely Canadian.


o Canadian raising

o Is a situation where by the diphthongs /aɪ/ and/aυ/ before voiceless consonants /p, t, k, s, f,/ are raised

o The first element is articulated higher and in a more central position than it could be heard in RP or by New US accent.

§ E.g. in out /aυt/ RP

§ /ǝυt/ CanE

§ Therefore ‘out’ will be pronounced the same way as ‘oat’ /ǝυt/

o When pronouncing the letters of the alphabet Canadian English uses the Anglo-European and French /zed/ unlike the American /zi/ for ‘z’

o In a word like isle /aɪl/ the final element is articulated higher to the position of ,/ͻ/ and it becomes /ͻɪl/ as in oil / ͻɪl/

o The pronunciation of pairs of words like cot /kɒt/ and caught /kͻt/ will be pronounced with the same short vowel /ɒ/ thus all become /kɒt/


Despite the size of Australian continent/country, there is little internal variation reinforced by the single voice of the country’s radio, TV and the standard language of the press.

There seem to be no much grammatical differences as one moves from state to state’. Lexical differences can be noticed in fewer cases as in words like stroller in New South Wales and South Australia there is pusher, they all mean a child’s pushchair.

Language alone therefore, would appear as little to say a person’s geographical origin. However, it is a mistake to conclude that there are no variations at all. These are more of lexical

There are three types of accents that have been established in Australian English.

§ Cultivated Accent. Used by almost 10% of the population. In it, RP continues to exert tremendous influence.

§ Broad Accent. Used by about 30% of the population.

§ General Accent. Used by most of the population. In it, there is a great mainstream of accent.


Crystal D (1995:351) says, this focuses more on phonemic differences, especially the vowels.

  • The RP/i/ and /u/ in AustE are heard as diphthongs /ǝɪ/ and /ǝυ/. Thus, a person speaking RP will say see /si/ but someone speaking AustE will say /sǝɪ/. This feature is more evident in Broad accent.
  • The RP/eɪ/ is pronounced more open, where the first element is sometimes fairly front sometimes further back. E.g., the RP day /deɪ/ would sound /daɪ/ in AustE.
  • The RP /ǝυ/ as in so /sǝυ/ is heard with a much more open and fronted articulation in the Broad accent and to a lesser extent in the General accent.
  • The first element of the RP /aɪ/ as in ‘my’ is given a back open quality/ͻɪ/ in the Broad and General accents in such away that my and buy would be heard as /mͻɪ/ and /bͻɪ/
  • The first element of RP /aυ/ is pronounced at the front of the mouth in Broad and General accents and often raised to the direction of /æ/ eg now would be /næυ/
  • The central vowel /ǝ/ often replaces /ɪ/ in an unstressed syllable eg hospital would be /hɒspǝtl/
  • Vowels next to a nasal consonant tend to retain the nasality more than in RP


At a lexical level, a very different picture presents itself.

  • There are over 10,000 (estimated) of Australian origin and have become part of Standard English e.g. flying-doctor
  • Many words are associated with biogeography of the region associated with mining, farming etc e.g. banksias (a tree), barramundi (a kind of fish), brush (a dense vegetation).
  • There are also various idioms thought to display literary creativity rather than everyday evidences e.g.
    • As bald as a bandicoot
    • Scarce as a rocking-horse manure

AustE has no a good deal of Aborigine derived vocabulary except in the names of places, animals plants e.g.

    • for animals, bilby, euro, joey, perentie, quokka, tammar, wallaby, and wallaroo;
    • for birds, budgerigar, currawong, galah, and kookaburra;
    • for fish yabby;
    • for trees and plants, bindi-eye, bunya, coolibah, gidgee, jarrah, mallee, mulga, and quandong;
    • For cultural objects, didgeridoo and kylie.
    • Names for geographical features were less frequently adopted, though billabong was (mid-19th century), and is known outside Australia through the song 'Waltzing Matilda'. Microsoft® Encarta® (2007.)

  • By the end of the 18th century, the word boomerang was already in use in English, as well as the names dingo, kangaroo, koala, potoroo, and wombat for various, largely unfamiliar, animals.
  • The word corroboree, (later to be extended in Australian English to any noisy gathering or party), also became the English word for a gathering of Aboriginal people in the late 18th century, and koradji 'traditional healer' and waratah, the bush that is the emblem of New South Wales, are also recorded before the turn of the century. (ibid)


  • In comparison with AustE, there is a strong tie (sense) of historical relationship with Britain and a greater sympathy for British value and institutions.
  • In addition, a growing identity is a sense of national identity. In particular, based on the differences between NZE and AustE. This has brought the concern to establish the difference between the two varieties and establish a distinctive New Zealand vocabulary.
  • There has been a greater/ urgent need to take into considerations the Maori people. This has resulted to the use of Maori Loanwords in NZE
  • RP accent is still the most highly rated accent in terms like education and competence. Nevertheless, in terms like solidarity and social attractiveness local varieties rate highly.
  • There is a growing assimilation with AmE in some attitude studies in terms of vocabulary and pronunciation.


Several features of AustE are also found in NZE

· /i/ and /u/ are turned into diphthongs /ǝɪ/ and /ǝυ/ so in words like me /mi/ and shoot /ʃut/ will be /mǝɪ/ and /ʃǝυt/

· The use of /ǝ/ in an unstressed syllable.

· /ɪ/ tends to move to towards /ǝ/ contrast to AustE where it moves towards /i/. The word like fish /fɪʃ/ will be /fǝɪʃ/.

· The vowel /e/ has a closer articulation moving towards /i/ e.g. in yes /jes/ it will be /jis/

· /æ/ is pronounced in the position of /e/ such that a word like ‘bat’ is heard as /bet/

· Several individual words have local pronunciation e.g. New Zealand is heard with a short /ɪ/ = /zɪlǝnd/ instead of /zilǝnd/ in RP.


· Hundreds of words are like the Australianism, many however, will not be found in some parts because of cultural differences.

· The difference is mainly in the use of Maori loanwords e.g. Aucklander, (inhabitant of New Zealand), bach (holiday house), chillybin (drink box) choclate-fish etc Crystal (1995:355)

· Much of English is made up of words from other languages, and after Captain James Cook and his crew arrived in New Zealand in 1769, it was inevitable that English would assimilate some of the vocabulary of the Maori people who already inhabited the land. One of the earliest Maori migrants was the welcome haere mai. Captain Cook also recorded some terms in his diary, including pa 'fortified settlement'. Other 18th-century adoptions include kaka (a parrot), kumera (the sweet potato), mako shark, rata (a tree), tiki ('carved greenstone figure'), and wahine ('Maori woman'). These are typical of later borrowings from the time of European settlement: names for flora and fauna, and words relating to Maori culture or way of life, Maoritanga.

· Words for New Zealand flora and fauna include:

o Trees and plants, kahikatea, kauri, matai, ngaio, rangiora, toitoi;

o Birds, kea, of course the kiwi (destined to become synonymous with 'New Zealander'), the extinct moa, and the once-believed-extinct takahe;

o Fish, kahawai, paua, tarakihi, toheroa;

o Mammals kuri (an extinct breed of dog, later 'mongrel dog' and used as a generalized insult);

o Insects, weta.

o Among terms of Maori social structure, are hapu 'group of extended families', iwi 'people or community with a common ancestor', ngati 'clan', rangatira 'chief or noble'; other reflections of Maori cultural life are mana 'life force associated with ritual power and high social status', moko 'tattooing', piupiu, a traditional skirt, taiaha 'carved staff', utu 'satisfaction or reward', and the greetings kia ora and tena koe. The All Blacks, the New Zealand rugby union team, have made the haka, the traditional Maori war dance, familiar far beyond its native shores.

· A few Maori migrants have been assimilated to a greater degree, for example biddy-biddy, a plant with a clinging seed case, altered from Maori piripiri, cockabully 'small freshwater fish', an alteration of Maori kokopu, partly after bully, an English name for another small fish; and matagouri, a thorny bush, an alteration of Maori tumatakuru.

· A few Maori terms have passed into wider use and society, notably whanau, which in New Zealand has been adopted as a general word for a person's family, extending beyond its original meaning of 'Maori extended family'; pipi is used for an edible shellfish in Australia as well as New Zealand. Maori is itself a Maori word, and the Maori name for New Zealand, Aotearoa ('land of the long white cloud'), is often seen in Aotearoa-New Zealand. Since 1998, the New Zealand national collections have also been brought together as Maori Te Papa Tongarewa.(ibid)

· Idioms “at the rate of notes”

“Hook your mutton”= (clear)

‘Have the wood on” = have an advantage of something



This is an African-American Variety of American English. It is also called African-American Vernacular English. (AAVE). It shares some characteristics with Creole languages spoken by many people around the world. It has pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar similar to most of West African languages.


· Word final devoicing, esp. the plosives. Cub is heard as cup.

· There is a tendency of reduction of some diphthongs to form monophthongs in particular /aɪ/ -/a/ and /ͻɪ/-/ͻ/

· Word initial /ð/ is heard as /d/ as in this /ðis/ = /dis/

· Word medial and final /Ө/ is realized as either /f/ or /t/ e.g. month /mʌnt/ or /mʌnf/

· Realization of final /ŋ/ as /n/ as in tripping /trɪpɪŋ/ will be /trɪpɪn/. This is mainly in functional and in content morphemes with two syllables.

· Final consonant clusters are reduced. (only when they have some similar characteristics) e.g. test /tes/, hand /hæn/

· It is non-Rhotic. /r/ is dropped if not followed by a vowel.

· Lowering short /ɪ/ to /e/ or /æ/ before /ŋ/ e.g. thing /Өɪŋ/=/Өæŋ/ or /Өeŋ/


  • Negation
    • The use of ain’t as a general negative indicator and used somewhere standard English could be used; am not, aren’t, isn’t, haven’t, hasn’t.
    • Double negation. E.g. I didn’t go nowhere.
    • Triple or multiple negations. E.g. I don’t know nothing about nobody no more. (I don’t know anything about anybody anymore.)
  • The copular be is often dropped e.g.
    • You crazy? = you are crazy?
      She my sister. = She is my sister?.

Who you? = who are you?

Where you at? = Where are you at?

  • The word ‘it’ or ‘is’ denotes existence of something and mean exactly as the word ‘there’ in standard English.
    • E.g. It’s a juice in the fridge=(there is a juice in the fridge)
  • Altered syntax in questions.
    • E.g., why they ain’t growing? (Why aren’t they growing?)
    • Who the hell she think she is? ( who the hell does she think she is)

Mostly, Black English uses the lexicon of Standard American English but some of the vocabularies of Black English have their origin from West African languages.


At the end of the 15th C English began to visit West Africa and became a linguafranca of some countries. At the beginning of the 19th C, the increase in commerce and ant-slave activities brought English to the whole of West Africa. It is not always possible to talk of West African English because West Africa has several languages with their vernaculars, which have affected the language, so there are always variations in accent or vocabulary. wwww.http//

Several countries such as Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Cameroon, and Gambia speak English and have given English an official status. However, due to use of vernaculars it has brought several Pidgin English and creoles.

  • Gambian pidgin=AKU
  • Sierra Leone Pidgin English = (KRIO)
  • Liberian Pidgin English
  • Ghanaian pidgin English
  • Cameroonian Pidgin English (KAMTOK)

Linguistic features

Although there are these variations, there are some features that cut across all varieties.


  • It is non-rhotic.
  • Consonants final cluster is reduced.
  • Final voiced consonants are devoiced. E.g. pride /praɪt/, prologue /prɒlǝk/
  • Words ending in letter ‘mb’are pronounced with the final ‘b’ e.g. bomb, dumb, climb, comb, thumb.
  • Words ending in ‘–ing’, the final ‘g’ is heard. e.g. ring /rɪŋg/
  • A number of words have different stress placement e.g.
      • Cong'ratulation (BrE)
      • congratu'lation (WAPE)
      • in'vestigate (BrE)
      • investi'gate (WAPE)


  • Omission of articles e.g. I am going to cinema
  • Pluralization of non-count nouns, e.g. I lost all my chalks
  • It uses presentive pronouns not only after focused nouns as it is in some colloquial style of English but also in relative clause.
    • E.g., my sister she is crazy.
    • The guests whom I have invited them have come.
  • Absence of infinitival ‘to’ after some verbs.
    • E.g., them enabled them do it.
  • The use if universal tag question Is it? Regardless of the number, person and case.
    • E.g. She is going to town. Is it?
  • Non- English use of YES and NO in answering questions.
    • Hasn’t he come home yet?
    • Yes, he hasn’t come home yet.
    • No, he has come home yet.
  • The use of ‘bin’ to denote the past perfect.
    • E.g. Many bin lef (Many had left)
  • ‘de’, denotes the progressive.
    • E.g. Mary de come (Mary is/was coming)
  • ‘done’, denotes perfect (present)
    • Chacha done come ( Chacha has come)
  • When there is no mark at all, that’s simple past
    • E.g. Mwiter come late (Mwiter came late)
  • Adjectives are used without a copular when predicative
    • Bhoke a nice girl wwww.http//


When a language spreads worldwide as English has, it is difficult to decide which a standard variety is and which is not. Some factors are to be put into considerations when dealing with this phenomenon.

(a) Internationalism

When the nation looks at the world as a whole, it tries to see the way it can fit in. This results to the globalization of many aspects like trade, relations etc including the language as English has been globalized.

Internationalism implies intelligibility. If the reason a nation wants to promote English is to give it access to what English-speaking world offers, it is crucial for its people to understand that language. Thus the language demands uniformity of the language in all aspects e.g. grammar, vocabulary, phonology/pronunciation, conversions of use, and spellings. This is to say internationalism demands agreed standards.

(b) Identity

This happens when every speech community wants to identify itself as being different from other varieties of the same speech community. Identity implies individuality. In order to maintain a distance from other varieties, one variety tries to use some unique features that are peculiar to it. E.g. New Zealand English use of Maori words, CanE use of canadianism, AustE use of Australianism. In the contexts of identity, the language demands distinctiveness in grammar, vocabulary, spellings, pronunciation, and convention of use.

Since 1980s, the question of Standard and Non-Standard English has been a debatable issue Crystal (1995). At international level the question is, which national standard should be used, as a mode of teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)


It is a non-linguistic fact to think that every language consists of one ‘correct’ dialect from which other ‘inferior’ or ‘substandard’ dialects diverge. Linguistically speaking, no one dialect, or language is better, more correct, or more logical than any other. Rather every language variety is a rule-governed system and effective means of communication.


Descriptively speaking, a standard dialect is a variety used by political leaders, the media, and speakers from higher socio-economic classes. It is taught in schools and to non-native speakers. Every language has at least one standard dialect that serves as the primary means of communication across dialects. In actuality, there is no one standard dialect instead many different varieties of what people consider the standard.

Socially speaking, a standard dialect is the dialect of prestige and power. E.g. in US the prestigious group corresponds to people in power, wealthy and educated. It is the speech of this group, therefore, that becomes standard, but there is nothing about the variety itself that makes it prestigious.

E.g. consider this case how standard has changed to non-standard overtime.

Multiple negations were once used commonly by speakers of Standard Old English and Middle English. E.g. Geoffrey Chaucer’s description of knight in the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales (from Millward 1989:158)

“He nevere yet no vileynye ne sayde”

(He never yet no villainy not said.)

Today, speakers who employ multiple negations are not members of the prestigious group. Thus, it is considered as a non-standard feature. wwww.http//

Again, consider this case

Few Standard English speakers use Object pronouns in the place of the Subjects e.g.

  1. Mwiter and me went to Ngo’ng’ona.

Yet media spokespeople, political leaders, and others of higher socio-economic status are mostly observed using Subject in Object position

  1. This is a matter between Marwa and I
  2. Give the book to Marwa and I.

However, many Standard English Speakers may not recognise sentence (2) and (3) as violation of prescriptive rule and would argue that intuitively they are correct. This is known as hypercorrection. The act of producing non-standard forms by way of false analogy.

This shows that even violations of prescriptive rule can be perceived as standard if members of the prestigious group use them.


It is important to understand that non-standard does not mean “substandard” or “inferior” as many perceive. Just as standard dialects are associated with the language of the “powerful” and “prestigious” class, non standard dialects are usually associated with the language of lower socio-economic class.

It is a non-linguistic notion to consider non-standard dialect as ‘bad’ and ‘improper’ ways of speaking as opposed to standard varieties which are said to be ‘good’ and ‘proper’

Consider the following paradigms.

Standard Non-standard

I like myself. I like myself

You like yourself. You like yourself

He likes himself He likes hisself

She likes herself. She likes herself

We like ourselves. We like ourselves

You like yourselves. You like yourself

They like themselves. They like theirselves

Given the two paradigms, we can develop descriptive rules for construction of reflexive pronouns in these two varieties.


  • Add the reflexive suffix –self’ to the possessive pronouns in 1st and 2nd person singular and –selves to possessive pronouns in 1st and 2nd persons plural.
  • Add the suffix –self to Object pronouns in 3rd person singular and –selves to Object pronouns in 3rd person plural.


o Add the suffix –self to possessive pronouns in 1st – 3rd persons singular and –selves to Object pronouns in 1st – 3rd-persons plural’

Given the rules, there is nothing that makes the non-standard variety less systematic or less logical than the standard one. In fact, some may argue that the non-standard is more systematic than the standard one because it uses the same form of each pronoun (the possessive) as the stem for forming reflexive paradigm. This would be easier to teach to non-native speakers or children than the standard one, which stipulates two conditions. wwww.http//

From a dozen of definitions available in different literatures, the following characteristics must be put forward.

1) Standard English is a variety of English with distinctive combination of linguistic features with particular role to play. Some linguists call it a dialect, but a dialect of its own since it has no local base and there in nothing in its vocabulary or grammar which tells where it comes from.

2) The linguistic features of Standard English are chiefly matters of grammar, vocabulary and orthography (spellings and punctuation). Pronunciation is ignored in this matter when speaking about Standard English.

3) Standard English is a variety of English that carries most prestige in a country e.g. from social class, material access, educational background, political strength etc. the English chosen by these people is considered to be standard.

4) The prestige attached to Standard English is recognised by adult members of the community and results them to recommend Standard English as a medium of Educational instructions. It will be widely disseminated thus widely understood.

5) Although Standard English is widely understood, it is not widely produced. Only a minority of people use it e.g. the Media Broadcast.

In this basis the Standard English of the English-speaking world can be defined as;

A minority variety identified chiefly by its vocabulary, grammar and orthography and which carries the most prestige and is widely understood.


One of the drawbacks of Kachru’s circle is that it does not take into account the status of shifting circle in the expanding circle. In some countries like Denmark, Palestine, Norway, etc people use English as a means of communication in daily basis, that the language is now taking the level of second language than foreign language.

Thus Gradol(1999), made a prediction that the number of people using English as 2nd language will be ranging from 235mil to 462mil during the next 50 years. In these trends, there is a possibility that language 2 speakers will overtake languagen1 speakers.

Davis (2005) says, that a large number of people in the world needs to learn English as International language even if they speak a local variety of English or one or more varieties of English.


Will English continue to be used as a global language?

Certainly, the signs are, no language will replace it in a foreseeable future though other languages may have increased influence in the trade and communication like Chinese.

Mackay (2002) notes several factors that could affect the spread of English.

1) Little incentive, in individual particularly in expanding circle.

2) Growing pressure of the education system of some countries to prioritise (give status to) the minority speakers languages e.g. in Tanzania Kiswahili is being promoted to be use to University level.

3) Davis predicts that the percentage of the materials in the internet posted in English will fall from 80% to 40% of total information.

4) Resistance to the spread of English arising from the negative attitudes of English speakers. E.g. their economic, cultural and military acts are opposed by some countries.

5) Emergence of culturally, militarily, and economically powerful nations like China, will shift the attention from English speaking countries to other non-English speaking countries thus eroding the status of English.


Chambers & Trudgil (1980) Dialectology. London, New York:University Press

Crystal (1995) The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of English language. New York: Cambridge University Press

Davis (2005)

Mackay (2002)


"Germanic Languages", Microsoft® Encarta® 2007 [CD]. Microsoft Corporation, 2006.

Stewart J & N Vaillet (eds) 2001 Language Files: Materials for an Introduction to Language and Linguistics. Columbus: The Ohio University Press wwww.http

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