chapter  24
17 Pages

Mixed codes or varieties of English? James McLellan

This chapter is based on the premise (truism) that speakers and writers of World Englishes have access to other languages in the linguistic ecosystem of their national or local community. These languages contribute to the variety of English used for their intranational communication. They include languages learned as a first language in the home, and those acquired informally through social interaction in the community and formally within the educational domain. In these contexts English can be considered as an overlay, as the other languages are

not usually replaced by English but are retained, and they function as communicative resources for the construction of varieties of English. Fijian, Malaysian, Bruneian, Indian, Kenyan and Nigerian Englishes provide excellent examples. This chapter investigates the consequences of this pattern of multilingual overlaying,

and the hypothesis that World Englishes are by definition code-mixed varieties, mainly from a linguistic perspective, but with some reference to sociolinguistic issues. The linguistic analysis draws mainly on a corpus of Brunei online discussion forum

texts, and highlights single Malay nouns and nominal groups inserted into English main-language texts. In so doing they exert an influence on the main language, English. Sociolinguistics, being ‘the study of speakers’ choices’ (Coulmas 2005: 1), leads us

to pursue a line of enquiry which suggests a threefold choice, between

& using the local language(s) monolingually, & using an exonormative variety of English monolingually, & using a mixed code which can be regarded as a separate variety which is

unmarked in some multilingual contexts.