analysis of kachru's concentric circles

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Basarally Name: Hassan Basarally I.D.: 806007430 Course Name: World Englishes Course Code: LING 6402 Lecturer: Dr. Ferreira

806007430

LING 6402

University: University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. Semester and Year: Semester 2, 2009-2010 Assignment: Critically evaluate and analyse Kachru's Three-Circle model for varieties of English around the world. You may consider including a comparison and contrast with any other available model, or you may propose your own. Date Due: 22/03/2010

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The English language has spread to every continent of the world and as a result, non-native English speakers outnumber native ones today. With this, the language has undergone changes that are still being investigated in the field of linguistics, the main one being the existence of Englishes as opposed to a single standard variety. Attempts have been made to describe the spread of the language with various models. Each model proposed reflected different approaches to defining English as a global language and its relationship with its speakers who come from diverse geographical and linguistic backgrounds. Braj Kachru proposed a model of three concentric circles that showed the diversity of English, differentiated between native and non-native Englishes and legitimised non-native Englishes as distinct varieties. However, there remained the connotation of linguistic superiority of the Englishes in the models core and the boundaries used did not reflect the accurate state of the varieties contained. Marko Modiano developed an alternative to fill some of the gaps in the three concentric circles. The centripetal model placed in its core proficiency and was able to accommodate movement within the model. However, many key definitions required development, native and non-native speakers were put on par in determining linguistic norms and it also maintained some connotations of a prestige variety. The model of English proposed by Kachru consisted of three concentric circles: Inner Circle, Outer Circle and Expanding Circle. The amount of speakers in the Inner and Outer Circles are both estimated at 37 million and the Expanding Circle at 750-1000 million according to Graddol (2000). Inner Circle Englishes in the model refer to the traditional centres of the language or the colonising nations that spread the language to different territories, here English is the first or native language. The Outer Circle is

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populated by the colonised territories in which English is a second or non-native language and used in different functional domains, such as government, and the Expanding Circle includes all nations that use English as a foreign language (See Figure 1). The definition of native English speakers used is persons who learnt English at a young age and use it consistently as a means of communication in different spheres of life, i.e. social, professional or academic. The model is marked by the fact that there is no standard worldwide English and its shows the diffusion of English from its traditional centres as a language that is intra-national and has international varieties. In addition, it shows how English is acquired and used instead of in historical and genetic terms (Crystal, 60).

Figure1: Kachrus Concentric Circles Kachrus three-circle model was accepted for years as the most accurate representation of the spread of the English language. The aim of the model was to demonstrate the pluralistic reality of the language and show that English changes as it spreads. This acknowledgement of diversity sought to change the use of models that

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utilised family trees and chronological models. The chronological and biological models were hierarchical as English from Britain was at the centre and failed to distinguish native and non-native English. Additionally, the chronological models tend to depict language change as implicitly a sequences of boxes or rungs, while the biological models tend to depict it explicitly through tree diagrams and an imagery of femaleness and fertility (McArthur, 98). These representations fell short as the sociolinguistic reality was ignored. Traditionally, there was the division of English as a Native Language (ENL), English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL). In Kachrus model, ENL was replaced by the Inner Circle, ESL by the Outer Circle and EFL by the Expanding Circle. Kachrus model promotes what Rajadurai calls WE-ness as the different types of English are part of the same circle (113). The model also aims to refute the notion that the Outer Circle, previously viewed as ESL, was marked by fossilisation and the development of interlanguage. Fossilisation and interlanguage are terms that relate to second language acquisition. Fossilisation is continued use of grammatical structures that are incorrect, the continued use of such structures is a result of the learner not being cognitively able to use the correct structure. Interlanguage is the speech of the learner that has grammatical mistakes; this is viewed as a state that the learner arrives at before moving on to native-like performance and competence. Instead, Kachru proposed that such Englishes were indigenised. This meant that no one group owned English but it was owned by those who spoke it. According to Kilickaya (36), Quirk suggested the use of native norms and native like performance and stressed the need to uphold one common standard in the Outer and Expanding

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Circles of Kachrus model. For Kachru, speech norms and registers were irrelevant to the sociolinguistic reality of the English speaker in the Outer Circle because the language would have generally been acquired in an educational setting so a standard from the Inner Circle would have already been employed. Differences from the standards of Inner Circle Englishes were not errors but representative of learning English in a multilingual environment. An example used by Kilickaya is the modal auxiliary may in Indian English. The sentence: These mistakes may please be corrected, is as a result of politeness not fossilisation (36). Kachru saw variation as differences not deficits because localised varieties of English were used for communication amongst non-native English speakers and English is used to impart local culture not only that of the Inner Circle (Jenkins, 67). Despite attempting to show English as not specific to a particular region or group, Kachrus model received some of the same criticism of earlier models. A major area of contention was the connotation involved with the composition of the Inner Circle. The Inner Circle includes the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Historically, these nations were colonising powers responsible for the transportation of English to every continent. Kachru describes the Inner Circle as norm providing, the Outer Circle as normdeveloping and the Expanding Circle as norm accepting (Rajadurai, 112). The concept of the Expanding Circle being norm dependant has been called into question by Canagarajah. English is used as a lingua franca in this circle and would produce its own norms and multilingual speakers do not seem to defer to inner-circle norms when they communicate with each other in English (232). Also, in the Expanding circles, the

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proficiency in English is near native so there is no need to accept norms. This terminology, combined with the fact that many ESL texts are produced from such countries, gives prestige to the Inner Circle Englishes which defeats the purpose of designing a new model of English. Rajadurai identifies some further weaknesses in Kachrus concept of the development of norms. Firstly, the division of norm-providing and accepting reinforces connotations of divisiveness and superiority. It is also noted that the other circles have developed their own standards that not only provide norms for internal consumption but are also exported to other countries (116). Examples are seen in the number of ESL teachers that are not from the Inner Circle, literature in English from authors like Achebe and Desai and the production of texts on Indian English. This supports Canagarajahs view that the circles are leaking, the boundaries neither contain nor prevent penetration by other Englishes. The positioning of the Inner Circle in the centre means that the norm producers are defined by geography not proficiency. This means that the boundaries between the circles cannot be well defined. Canagarajah describes this reality as having circles that are leaking (231). Due to the circles being mainly geographical, globalisation caused a movement of English speakers throughout the circles. Companies from the Inner Circle transact business with the other Circles; as a result, knowledge of other Englishes is important to organisational efficiency. Canagarajah also disputes the assumption that English is used solely for extra community relations in the expanding circle (232). Also, the Expanding and Outer Circles appear apart from the Inner Circle; therefore, one can see the diversity of English but not the commonality.

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In addition, linguistic superiority is conferred to the ENL speakers in the Inner circle. Members of the Inner Circle are presumed to speak English from an early age and posses the best norms. This is a problematic criterion because there are members of Kachrus core with non-native English populations. For example, the United Kingdom is listed in the core but in this single territory there is Gaelic and Scots in Scotland, Welsh in

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