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World Englishes


Admission requirements

The BA English Language and Culture courses Linguistics 2 (Introduction to English Syntax) and Linguistics 4 (English Phonetics and Phonology) or similar courses must have been completed.


An Australian holidaying in New Zealand spots a sheep farmer. Being rather interested in sheep himself, he stops for a chat, and asks: “Do you shear your sheep?” To which the New Zealander replies: “No. Go get your own.” Funny? Not unless you know that to a New Zealander the pronunciation “shear” means “share”. Dialect (and language) jokes like this abound. This course will consider a number of variants of English all over the world. Using standard British and American English as our starting point, we will look at how other varieties resemble them or differ from them. Differences or resemblances may be phonetic/phonological (including spelling), syntactic, lexical, semantic and even pragmatic. The following issues will be addressed: the history of the spread of English; the differences between a language and a dialect; language politics; substrates; pidgins and creoles. Students will, singly or in small groups, select a particular variant and describe it from all of the points of view indicated above. Possible areas include but are not limited to: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, West Africa, the Bahamas, Canada, Singapore, Black English Vernacular (Ebonics/Afro-American), Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Course objectives

Students will become acquainted with the most important differences between dialects of English (dialectology); with detailed phonetic and syntactic analysis (linguistics); with the history of the English language (culture); and with preconceptions about language (“a language is a dialect with an army and a navy”; or, “people who speak Black English don’t know their own language”.)


Mode of instruction

2-hour weekly seminar

Assessment method

In-class presentations on all aspects (40%); final written paper on either one aspect in a number of variants or all aspects in one variant (60%)



Reading list

The following books should be in your possession:
Melchers, Gunnel & Philip Shaw (2011), World Englishes, London: Hodder Education.
Trudgill, Peter & Jean Hannah (1982), International English: A guide to the varieties of Standard English, London: Hodder Education, 5th edn (2008) or later.

Further reading (below) will be made available from the University Library, from which it may not be removed (you might want to try and pick these up second-hand).

Allerton, D.J., Paul Skandera & Cornelia Tschichold, eds (2002), Perspectives on English as a world language, Basel: Schwabe.
Bailey, Richard W. & Manfred Görlach, eds (1982), English as a world language, University of Michigan Press. Probably most easily available in the 1984 CUP edition.
Chew, Phyllis Ghim-Lian (2009), Emergent Lingua Francas and world orders: The politics and place of English as a world language, London: Routledge.
English world-wide (e-journal; accessible through the Leiden University Library Catalogue)
Jenkins, Jennifer (2009), World Englishes: A resource book for students, London: Routledge, 2nd edn.
Platt, John, Heidi Weber & Mian Lian Ho (1984), The new Englishes, London: Routledge.
Schneider, Edgar W. (2011), English around the world: An introduction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Swan, Michael & Bernard Smith, eds (1987), Learner English, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2nd edn (2001 or later).
Wells, J.C. (1982a), Accents of English 1: An introduction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wells, J.C. (1982b), Accents of English 2: The British Isles, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wells, J.C. (1982c), Accents of English 3: Beyond the British Isles, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
World Englishes (e-journal; accessible through the Leiden University Library Catalogue)

The following two (2012) items are not yet available from the library and are much too expensive to be bought:

Hackert, Stephanie, ed., Varieties of English around the world, Amsterdam: Benjamins (series title).
Hundt, Marianne and Ulrike Gut, eds., Mapping unity and diversity, Amsterdam: Benjamins.


Students should register through uSis.
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs