Chinese English: a future power?

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English has become ‘the world’s default mode’ (McArthur, 2002: 13) for communication. As a de facto lingua franca, English and its associated cultures are increasingly pluralistic. According to Kachru (1996: 135), ‘the term “Englishes” is indicative of distinct identities of the language and literature. “Englishes” symbolizes variation in form and function, use in linguistically and culturally distinct contexts, and a range of variety in literary creativity.’

As far as Chinese English is concerned, Kirkpatrick & Xu (2002: 278) suggest that since ‘the great majority of the estimated 350 million Chinese’ who have been learning English are far more likely to use it with other speakers of world Englishes, the development of Chinese English ‘with Chinese characteristics’ will be ‘an inevitable result’. Kirkpatrick & Xu also predict that such a variety of English will be characterized by linguistic and cultural norms derived from Chinese.

This chapter will review the definitions of Chinese English, and then identify a selection of lexical, syntactic, discourse and pragmatic features of Chinese English based on an analysis of a variety of data including interviews, newspaper articles, and literary works. The chapter will conclude by considering the likelihood of Chinese English becoming a powerful variety of English.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of World Englishes
EditorsAndy Kirkpatrick
Place of PublicationLondon and New York
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781003128755
ISBN (Print)9780367144395
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameRoutledge Handbooks in Applied Linguistics


  • Chinese English
  • world Englishes

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