Varieties of English in the Indo-Pacific (VEIP) project at the World Humanities Conference

Varieties of English in the Indo-Pacific (VEIP) project at the World Humanities Conference

The Varieties of English in the Indo-Pacific (VEIP) project led by Macquarie linguists was featured at the first World Humanities Conference hosted by UNESCO, the International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences (ICPHS), held in Liege, Belgium from 6 to 12 August 2017. Six members of the VEIP research network presented in a symposium titled Twenty-first century English in diaspora – reflecting social and cultural change in multilingual communities.Their papersfeatured the use of English by multilingual speakers in transitional nations such as South Africa, Uganda, India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, the Philippines, Fiji and the Cook Islands – showing how English takes on new cultural characteristics and social functions in post-colonial habitats. Individual and group identities are nuanced by the way English is mixed with other languages, as multilingual speakers make creative use of their shared language resources. The presentations included:

  • Professor Andy Kirkpatrick’s (Griffith University) paper on The role of English in ASEAN: implications for language pedagogy showed the problems of putting too much emphasis on English language in L2 children’s early education, as in Myanmar and elsewhere.
  • Dr Haidee Kruger (Macquarie University) presented joint research which she and Professor Bertus van Rooy (North-West University, South Africa) conducted into Hybrid Englishes in South African multilingual digital repertoires, as exercised on comment websites on popular TV programs.
  • Professor Christiane Meierkord (Ruhr University, Bochum Germany) presented joint research which she and Dr Bebwa Isingoma (Gulu University, Uganda) conducted on Language contact and multicultural identity in the lexicon of Ugandan English, showing how indigenous, exogenous and foreign cultures have shaped it.
  • Dr Tobias Bernaisch and Dr Sandra Götz (Justus-Liebig University-Giessen, Germany) presented joint research on India and Sri Lanka: Attitudes towards Englishes, comparing and contrasting the views of speakers towards their own and the other type of English.
  • Dr Loy Lising (Macquarie University) presented her research on The role of English in multilingual Philippines: Institutional, social and personal motivations for multilingual practices, showing howEnglish plays a complementary role alongside indigenous languages in the Filipino people’s socioeconomic development
  • Professor Carolin Biewer (University of Würzburg, Germany) presented her research on Language and culture in emerging South Pacific Englishes, focusing on the cultural perceptions of new users of English and developing positive attitudes to their regional variety.

The symposium was co-chaired by Emeritus Professor Pam Peters and Dr Haidee Kruger (Macquarie University).

Collectively the papers highlighted new ways of using English, amid major social and economic transitions within each of those countries.  Their users’ connectedness with social media in global English was also recurrent theme. These new Englishes also challenge notions of language purity and standardness which are embedded in the humanities, and models of world English which are steadily being updated in sociolinguistic research.

Emeritus Professor Pam Peters

VEIP

Presenters at the VEIP symposium held at the World Humanities Conference (from left to right): Dr Tobias Bernaisch, Professor Andy Kirkpatrick, Dr Sandra Götz, Emeritus Professor Pam Peters, Dr Loy Lising, Professor Christiane Meierkord, Dr Haidee Kruger and Professor Carolin Biewer.

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