Leave your lingua franca alone?

Haberland, H. (Foredragsholder)

Aktivitet: Tale eller præsentationForedrag og mundtlige bidrag


There is the fact that today English is used more often by non-native users than by native speakers, and often in communication with other non-native speakers, i.e. as a lingua franca in the sociolinguistic sense. From this, it appears that two distinct but intertwined discourses have arisen: an ownership discourse and a norm discourse. By now most people agree that the native speakers do not own the English language, at
least not in any exclusive sense, but the norm discourse still has to answer the question: if the native speakers do not have the prerogative of regulating a language in international use, who does? Since the two discourses are difficult to separate, an obvious misunderstanding has arisen, viz. that studying ELF as a phenomenon in its own right means that ‘language cultivation’ is not an issue for ELF. But as a global
public good, ELF can be taken for granted and has to be taken care of – but by whom?
Language is a contract about meanings. It cannot be cancelled unilaterally. Some sociolinguists think that language is mainly for self-expression. But language is
mainly for communication. The language user has to respect, and to accommodate to, the listener: by introducing predictability and maintaining social order. Today there is no use in invoking, or need to invoke, the native speaker as a guardian of functionality. Understanding cannot be, and does not have to be, guaranteed by conformity to some native norm.
Some people interpret the empirical approach to ELF as if it involved unrestricted tolerance of any deviation from established norms. This need not be the case. Even English as an ELF does not, in my opinion, have to be left alone.
Periode7 apr. 2009
BegivenhedstitelInternational Conference of English as a Lingua Franca
PlaceringSouthampton, Storbritannien