English as a Lingua Franca: interpretations and attitudes
World Englishes, 28, (2), . (doi:10.1111/j.1467-971X.2009.01582.x).
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The phenomenon of English as a lingua franca (ELF) has become the subject of considerable debate during the past few years. What emerges from much of the discussion, however, is that there seems to be a good deal of uncertainty as to what, precisely, ELF actually is, and how it relates to the much more firmly established field of world Englishes (WE). This paper therefore begins with an explanation of my own interpretation of both WE and ELF. It goes on to focus primarily on ELF. First, I examine two frequent and diametrically opposite reactions to ELF: one that it promotes monolithicity and denies pluricentricity, the other that it promotes too much diversity, lack of standards, and an approach in which ‘anything goes’. I then consider the attitudes implicit in the second of these positions, and, using data drawn from recent ELF research, go on to explore the possible effects of these attitudes on the identities of ELF speakers from Expanding Circle countries. The paper ends on an optimistic note, with evidence from participants in the European Union’s Erasmus Programme1 that demonstrates how first-hand experience of ELF communication seems to be raising their awareness of its communicative effectiveness.
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