World English: non-standard usage

For this exercise you will need to deploy your sleuthing skills in turning up interesting examples of English used somewhere around the world. The goal is to find a text in English that shows features of a non-standard dialect peculiar to the country of origin. You will need to avoid the kinds of publications that use Standard English, such as online news accounts that follow a house style, and instead look for places where local slang might appear. The international Craigslist is a good place to begin, although if you go to the Personals you should be aware of the kinds of sexually explicit photos and language that find their way there. You can also look through editorials and letters to the editor in regional newspapers, such as Punch in Nigeria,  as well as the sports pages, classifieds, and personal ads. Your searches you might bring you to online advertising that uses local slang. You might also consider blogs; check the "about the author" link to see whether the educational background suggests training in standard English or not.

Explore! Get creative in finding what you need!

Where to look? You need to find a country with a large population that speaks English as a second language. Here are two links that show countries in which English has an official status (not always the official language) and another that shows the percentage of the population that uses English as a first or second language. Some places, like Hong Kong and Japan, have such a long history of English-speaking expatriates that most publications do not give much room for idiosyncratic usages. Here are some suggestions: Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Philippines, and China.

 Once you find a good example, print it out and indicate how the language differs from Standard English. The easiest things to spot are unfamiliar words, but you should also consider differences in word order, ways of indicating tense in verbs, ways of forming questions or negatives (do they use do?), the use of conjunctions, etc. Your sample passages may be as short as a few sentences or as long as 300 words as long as they show non-standard usage. Offer suggestions about what influence may lie behind the usages in question.

Write a paragraph (under 200 words) summarizing your findings and bring it to section.
Send the link you used to your TF, who may decide to use it in section.


worldenglish_numbers.pdf78 KB