Translanguaging within English as a (multi) lingua franca. Implications for business enterprises in a globalised economy


Abstract - English has become the most influential language for international discourse (Weber 1997) because it is spoken right across the globe. It is tempting to consider English as the only future World Language and foresee scenarios where other languages become irrelevant on an international level. Such a simplistic view sees the adoption of English as something universal and uniform with little room for variation, local identity, or other lingua francas. However, data shows that other lingua francas are not inevitably in decline. Diverse languages – e.g. Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, French – continue to be important regionally or in certain discourse domains (Weber 1997, Ostler 2010, Ronen et al. 2014) and on the internet. By contrast, English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) presents a more accurate description of affairs. Non-native (L2) speakers of English outnumber native (L1) speakers (Kachru 1985, Graddol 1998, 2010). It is used predominately for communication between international speakers whose main concern, in the business context, is making themselves understood rather than adhering to a native speaker model of “correct” English. ELF will thus become increasingly endonormative (Seidlhofer 2011). Pronunciation (Jenkins 2000, Christiansen 2011a / 2014) lexis, and even grammar and syntax may be influenced by speakers’ first languages, local languages (Christiansen forthcoming a), regional lingua francas or by the tendency of L2 speakers to bring about structural simplification and to innovate through improvisation (McWhorter 2007, Christiansen 2013). Consequently, ELF will consist not in a single monolith but in a network of variations depending largely on user and use. Another aspect of ELF which has recently come to light is the way that English may be used in conjunction with other contact languages thereby creating a situation of translanguaguing (García and Li Wei, 2014) where there is a situation of “Multilingual communication in which English is available as a contact language of choice, but is not necessarily chosen” (Jenkins 2015: 74). This paper will discuss the implications of such a new complex, and fluid, multilinguistic scenario for businesses operating and communicating within the globalised economy.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v17p39

Keywords: ELF; translanguaging; lingua francas; norm-oriented models.


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