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Linguistics Variations of World Englishes

Linguistics Variations of World Englishes: A Comparison Study between
British English and Indian English
Nadya Lazuardi
Language is the basic form of communication in the social scale of mankind, and is
arguably the most complicated technical communication form in any living beings; therefore,
the study of language is never stagnant and keeps undergoing rapid development throughout
the years. English is not an exception in regard of this statement; instead English has
developed in a wide range of the spectrum within these periods of time. Although as King
(2006) said in Willey Blackwell’s journal compilation, The Handbook of World Englishes,
that it is impossible to point to a specific date, a specific place, or a specific person, and say:
that is when the English language began. However, it is quite certain that the development of
language will never cease as long as the language is still used among society.
localized/indigenized varieties of English (Lee and Jun, 2016). Responding to this wide range
of varieties of English, Kachru (1985) used a more specific method to classify the varieties of
World Englishes into three circles; Inner Circle (ENL), Outer Circle (ESL) and Expanding
Circle (EFL). This paper will discuss and compare the linguistics features of the Inner Circle
and the Outer Circle countries, in this case we will specifically use British English (BrE) as
the sample of Inner Circle, and Indian English (IndE) as the sample of Outer Circle.
The emergence of New Englishes around the world has led to an ever- increasing
interest in the description of differences between varieties of English at all linguistic levels
(Hoffmann and Mukherjee, 2007). This phenomenon leads no exception even for British
English (BrE), which is considered as the Standard English. According to Britain (2010) the
Standard English dialect is considered as minority in England, hence the developing of
Englishes is proven to be limitless as to which country it can possibly occur. On the other
hand, Kashyap (2014) stated that Indian English (IndE) is one of the oldest of the new
varieties of English with demographically the highest number of the users of English and
therefore a centre of gravity in the field of World Englishes. Therefore, we believe it is
appropriate to use both British English (BrE) and Indian English (IndE) as the main sample
of this paper.
Results and Discussions
Grammatical Variation
This paper will use the literature reviews approach to discuss the variations of
linguistics features in British English (BrE) and Indian English (IndE). The first linguistics
features to be discussed in this paper is the grammatical variations. Even in the scope of
British English (BrE) itself the variations within the grammatical features are undeniable. As
Britain (2010) comprehend in his paper, the grammatical variations construe from the
standardized use of tenses (present and past), modal verbs until the use of definite and
indefinite article. These differences are possible due to the varied dialects and socio-cultural
phenomenon and events occurring in the area. Meanwhile in India, historically, as to what the
Progressive Force believes, English arguably had become the unitary language that enable
them to liberate themselves from the British Empire. And as the ages continue, English in
India has become a nativized language and also the official second language. As for the
grammatical variation in IndE, it varies greatly depending on the background indigenous
language and the degree of proficiency of the individual speaker (Hickey, 2010).
The Use of Ditransitive Verbs
In the previous study that was conducted by Hoffmann and Mukherjee (2007), they
focus on the use of the verb give as a ditransitive verb in BrE as well as in IndE. In this
particular study, they point out the types of corpus that are mainly used in the form of
ditransitive verb give, as well as providing the analysis data of the research’s results.
These figures comprehend the unique quality of the use of the word give as a
ditransitive verb. Debunking from these figures, we can take a considered conclusion that
Indian English speakers tend to use give in many contexts where in British English one
would expect other verbs (e.g. give a complaint instead of make a complaint) and, more
specifically, in collocations that are unusual in British English but which are linked to the
type-ll pattern (e.g. give provocation to someone instead of provoke someone) (Hoffmann
and Mukherjee, 2007).
The Use of Modal Verbs ‘Can’ and ‘May’
Through the research done by Lee and Jun (2016), it shows that the use of modal
verbs can and may varies in the level of the speaker’s country. BrE speakers have the
tendency to use can more rather than may, meanwhile IndE speakers prefer to use may rather
than can. Although this result can be varied more depending on teh sample subject of the
research, but the research conducted by Lee and Jun (2016) contains the objective values to
analyse the mentioned tendencies.
(Figure taken from Lee and Jun
The most common and easily-found differences between language is through its
spoken form, or we call it pronunciation in general term, and phonology in linguistics term.
In BrE, the phonology differs according to the geographical location, because each parts of
UK have their own respective accent; however the standardized phonology relies on the
centre of England which is the London accent.
BrE Consonants
BrE Vowels
Data taken from Roach (2004)
IndE Phonology
One of the most distinctive features of IndE is its phonology, here are some examples
of IndE Monophthongs:
KIT: This short, stressed, high vowel is generally articulated all over India except for
the Bengal-Orissa region in Eastern India where the languages of this region do not
have the long-short vowel distinctions. Hence, this vowel freely alternates with the
long, stressed, high vowel [i:] in the category of FLEECE.
BATH: It is realized as long low back vowel [a:].
FLEECE: It is by and large articulated as [i:] with [I] being in variation amongst
speakers of Orissa and Bengal.
(Gargesh, 2008)
Varieties occur in the midst of the ever-growing World Englishes; specifically, in British
English (BrE) and Indian English (IndE). As the comparison shows, there are differences
found at the grammatical and phonology features between these two countries. As to why
these differences occur is still relative due to many aspects that have to be considered as
contributing factors; however one of those is the geographical condition between these two
countries, where one of them, BrE, considered to be the Inner Circle of World Englishes and
the other, IndE, considered to be the Outer Circle of World Englishes. Derived from the
previous statement, we can take these two sample countries into a more general point of view
of the World Englishes. Therefore, it can be concluded that there are differences found
between Inner Circle and Outer Circle.
Britain, David. (2010). Grammatical variation in the Contemporary Spoken English of
England. Handbook of World Englishes, 37-58.
Gargesh, Ravinder. (2008). Indian English: Phonology. Varieties of English 4: Africa, South
and Southeast Asia, 231-243
Hickey, Raymond. (2010). Varieties of English in Writing: The written word as linguistic
evidence. John Benjamins Publishing, 41, 1-68.
Hoffmann, Sebastian and Joybrato Mukherjee. (2007). Ditransitive verbs in Indian English
and British English: a corpus-linguistic study. Arbeiten aus Anglistik und
Amerikanistik, 32, 5-24.
Lee, Yong-Hun & Ki-suk Jun. The Inner Circle vs. The Outer Circle. PACLIC, 30, 339-346
Kachru. (1985). Standards, Codification and Sociolinguistic Realism: The English Language
in the Outer Circle. English in the World: Teaching and Learning the Language and
Literatures, 11-30. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kashyap, Abhishek. (2014). Developments in the Linguistic Description of Indian English:
State of the Art. Linguistics and the Human Sciences.
King, Robert D. (2004). The Beginnings. The Handbook of World Englishes.
Roach, Peter. (2004). British English: Received Pronunciation. Journal of the International
Phonetic Association: Illustrations of the IPA, 34, 239-245.