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World Englishes


Admission requirements

Students should have passed BA English Language and Culture courses Linguisticss 1, Linguistics 2 and Linguistics 4, or equivalent courses. If in doubt, consult the course tutor before registering.


In Singapore, they say “I’ll pick you at six.” In Belfast, they say “Run you to the library!”. In Australia, one sits the jezz round the tible. In Jamaica, the word means “spider”.

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)

  • Students will become acquainted with detailed phonetic and syntactic analysis (linguistics)

  • Students will become acquainted with the history of the English language (culture)

  • Students will learn to deal 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”)


The timetable will be available by June 1st on the website.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

  • time spent on attending lectures and seminars: 28 hours

  • time forstudying the compulsory literature: 100 hours

  • time to prepare for the presentation: 32 hours

  • time to prepare for the final paper (including reading/research) : 120 hours

Assessment Method

  • In-class presentation (20 minutes plus discussion) 40%

  • Final written paper (5000 words) 60%

Resit: students who fail the course may resit the final paper.


This course is not supported by Blackboard.

Reading list


  • 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.

To be consulted for presentation and/or paper:

  • 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)

  • Hackert, Stephanie, ed. (2012), Varieties of English around the world, Amsterdam: Benjamins (series title).

  • Hundt, Marianne and Ulrike Gut, eds (2012), Mapping unity and diversity, Amsterdam: Benjamins.

  • 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)


Students should register through uSis. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272144 or mail

When registering, students that are registered for the specialisation that this course belongs to, or the Research Master, take priority. The deadline for registration is August 15. All other students should contact the coordinator of studies

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration via Studeren à la carte
Registration via Contractonderwijs


MA Linguistics departmental office, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144;