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English in Southeast Asia

Saturday 21 March 2015, 1400 – 1600, Lecture Theatre 6

Organiser:
Danica Salazar
University of Oxford / Oxford University Press
danica.salazar@oup.com

Chair:
Alison Waters
University of Oxford / Oxford University Press
alison.waters@oup.com

English, as the working language of the ASEAN and the main bridge language in a highly multilingual community, plays a very important role in the success of Southeast Asian integration. This panel will examine the use of English in the region and its implications for language teaching and lexicography.

As a result of colonialism and Anglo-American cultural hegemony, English was transplanted from its origins in Britain to many different parts of the globe. It has reached as far as Southeast Asia, where local populations strive to maintain a former colonial language as a medium for both international and intranational communication. Southeast Asians increasingly employ English to communicate not just with the wider world, but with each other. This continued use of English as a second language in multicultural and multilingual environments creates nativised, educated forms of speech and writing that do not always correspond to the British or American standard.

The speakers in this panel will discuss how makers of English dictionaries and English-language teaching materials are responding to the current trend towards localisation and pluricentricity. What is the best way to teach and document English, now that it has moved beyond the classroom to the everyday lives of Southeast Asians? Now more than ever, there is a need to strike a balance between meeting the requirements and expectations of second-language learners, and accurately reflecting local cultures, values and traditions as expressed through the world’s lingua franca.

 

Paper 1: SEA in the OED: Documenting Southeast Asian words in a historical dictionary of English

Danica Salazar
University of Oxford / Oxford University Press
danica.salazar@oup.com

This paper will focus on the lexicon of Southeast Asian Englishes and its representation in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), widely regarded as the most authoritative dictionary of the language. It will describe current efforts to widen and improve the OED’s coverage of this type of nativised vocabulary through the inclusion of a wide range of lexical innovations that result from many years of contact between English and Southeast Asian vernaculars, and from the creativity and unique sociolinguistic environment of the region’s English users. Providing a balanced inventory of words from emerging Southeast Asian varieties of English in the OED is a recognition of their contribution to the history of the language, and an important step towards greater acceptance of local linguistic norms both within and beyond the region.

 

Paper 2: World English: How the OALD presents South-East Asian and other varieties of English for a global ELT audience

Alison Waters
University of Oxford / Oxford University Press
alison.waters@oup.com

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (OALD) is designed for those learning, teaching or using English as a global lingua franca. It therefore differs in its defining style from other English dictionaries such as the OED in order to make it more accessible to those whose first language is not English. As there are probably more L2 speakers of English than L1 speakers around the world today, the language has adapted itself to absorb many new regional and cultural influences and its coverage in ELT dictionaries must reflect that in order to better serve the needs of the target audience. In this talk, I will look at how world English, and South-East Asian English in particular, is presented in the latest edition of OALD.

 

Paper 3: English as a Window to the World

Cynthia Yolanda Doss
Universiti Technologi MARA
cnyrich@gmail.com  

Recent years have seen the ever rising realization of the significance of English in Asia as a language to accelerate national development and a way of understanding other cultures. In a region that is linguistically diverse, English has become the common language to facilitate globalisation. What is interesting is that many Asian countries have embraced teaching English in ways that are specific to their culture, history and nation building strategies. This paper will examine the role of English in Malaysia and also discuss some of the initiatives and intervention programmes implemented to promote English language teaching and learning.