Back to list

Detail of contribution

Auteur: Zoya PROSHINA

English in Russia -an ELF or a WE variety?

Abstract/Résumé: The Saussurian terms langue - language - parole will be revisited and applied to the term dispute about English as an International Language / World English(es) / English as a Lingua Franca. An ideational character of EIL as an invariant and a normative model in education manifests the features of langue. WE are real live varieties specific of a speech community, underpinned by its culture and influenced by indigenous language. Like Saussure's language, WE nature has certain generalization, for WE are made up by typical systemic features revealed in different lectal zones of the bilingual continuum. Speech of a social community is represented by a WE. A functional character of an English variety addressed to a speaker from another speech community is manifested as ELF, which might be applied not only to non-native speakers but to any users derived from different cultures. ELF like WE can be characterized by three lects (acro-, meso-, and basilect). It is implemented through an individual speech, though not a pure parole. Functional social characteristics prevalent in ELF relate the term to WE. Individual features of parole are revealed in an interlanguage, which is also characterized by acro-, meso-, or basilectal levels of language competence. A person who easily switches from one lect to another to adjust his/her speech to a context is employing the WE continuum by intentionally overcoming the interlanguage border. Thus the notion of the interlanguage corresponds only partly to parole - it is rather a psychological capability to reach a certain lectal level. The subtlety of differentiation of the three-member opposition leads to the challenges in recognizing varieties in the Expanding Circle. There are claims that English in Russia is not a variety per se, with school model of English based on either British or American English. However, ideally believing in learning the native varieties of English, Russian teachers and students will always remain Russian in culture and mentality. They remain in the cognitive framework of EIL and what they produce in speech is their own Russia(n) variety. The social side of any variety is beyond control of its user. Not every Russian will produce all the linguistic features of the variety in his/her speech. Some will use as little particular features as possible, demonstrating acrolectal English; others will have many deviations and their speech will be mesolectal. When in an artificial monolingual classroom context as the case usually is in Russia, their English is by no means a lingua franca. It acquires this function only in intercultural communication. Thus, depending on the degree of its abstraction, speech implementation, and functionality, Russia(n) English may comprise all three concepts: EIL, WE, and ELF.