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Basarally 806007430 LING 6402

Name: Hassan Basarally

I.D.: 806007430

Course Name: World Englishes

Course Code: LING 6402

Lecturer: Dr. Ferreira

University: University of the West Indies, St. Augustine.

Semester and Year: Semester 2, 2009-2010

Assignment: Critically evaluate and analyse Kachru's Three-Circle model for varieties of

English around the world. You may consider including a comparison and contrast with

any other available model, or you may propose your own.

Date Due: 22/03/2010

Basarally 806007430 LING 6402

The English language has spread to every continent of the world and as a result,

non-native English speakers outnumber native ones today. With this, the language has

undergone changes that are still being investigated in the field of linguistics, the main one

being the existence of Englishes as opposed to a single standard variety. Attempts have

been made to describe the spread of the language with various models. Each model

proposed reflected different approaches to defining English as a global language and its

relationship with its speakers who come from diverse geographical and linguistic

backgrounds. Braj Kachru proposed a model of three concentric circles that showed the

diversity of English, differentiated between native and non-native Englishes and

legitimised non-native Englishes as distinct varieties. However, there remained the

connotation of linguistic superiority of the Englishes in the models core and the

boundaries used did not reflect the accurate state of the varieties contained. Marko

Modiano developed an alternative to fill some of the gaps in the three concentric circles.

The centripetal model placed in its core proficiency and was able to accommodate

movement within the model. However, many key definitions required development,

native and non-native speakers were put on par in determining linguistic norms and it

also maintained some connotations of a prestige variety.

The model of English proposed by Kachru consisted of three concentric circles:

Inner Circle, Outer Circle and Expanding Circle. The amount of speakers in the Inner and

Outer Circles are both estimated at 37 million and the Expanding Circle at 750-1000

million according to Graddol (2000). Inner Circle Englishes in the model refer to the

traditional centres of the language or the colonising nations that spread the language to

different territories, here English is the first or native language. The Outer Circle is

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populated by the colonised territories in which English is a second or non-native

language and used in different functional domains, such as government, and the

Expanding Circle includes all nations that use English as a foreign language (See Figure

1). The definition of native English speakers used is persons who learnt English at a

young age and use it consistently as a means of communication in different spheres of

life, i.e. social, professional or academic. The model is marked by the fact that there is no

standard worldwide English and its shows the diffusion of English from its traditional

centres as a language that is intra-national and has international varieties. In addition, it

shows how English is acquired and used instead of in historical and genetic terms

(Crystal, 60).

Figure1: Kachrus Concentric Circles

Kachrus three-circle model was accepted for years as the most accurate

representation of the spread of the English language. The aim of the model was to

demonstrate the pluralistic reality of the language and show that English changes as it

spreads. This acknowledgement of diversity sought to change the use of models that

Basarally 806007430 LING 6402

utilised family trees and chronological models. The chronological and biological models

were hierarchical as English from Britain was at the centre and failed to distinguish

native and non-native English. Additionally, the chronological models tend to depict

language change as implicitly a sequences of boxes or rungs, while the biological models

tend to depict it explicitly through tree diagrams and an imagery of femaleness and

fertility (McArthur, 98). These representations fell short as the sociolinguistic reality

was ignored.

Traditionally, there was the division of English as a Native Language (ENL),

English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL). In

Kachrus model, ENL was replaced by the Inner Circle, ESL by the Outer Circle and

EFL by the Expanding Circle. Kachrus model promotes what Rajadurai calls WE-ness

as the different types of English are part of the same circle (113).

The model also aims to refute the notion that the Outer Circle, previously viewed

as ESL, was marked by fossilisation and the development of interlanguage. Fossilisation

and interlanguage are terms that relate to second language acquisition. Fossilisation is

continued use of grammatical structures that are incorrect, the continued use of such

structures is a result of the learner not being cognitively able to use the correct structure.

Interlanguage is the speech of the learner that has grammatical mistakes; this is viewed as

a state that the learner arrives at before moving on to native-like performance and

competence. Instead, Kachru proposed that such Englishes were indigenised. This meant

that no one group owned English but it was owned by those who spoke it. According to

Kilickaya (36), Quirk suggested the use of native norms and native like performance

and stressed the need to uphold one common standard in the Outer and Expanding

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Circles of Kachrus model. For Kachru, speech norms and registers were irrelevant to the

sociolinguistic reality of the English speaker in the Outer Circle because the language

would have generally been acquired in an educational setting so a standard from the Inner

Circle would have already been employed. Differences from the standards of Inner Circle

Englishes were not errors but representative of learning English in a multilingual

environment. An example used by Kilickaya is the modal auxiliary may in Indian

English. The sentence: These mistakes may please be corrected, is as a result of

politeness not fossilisation (36). Kachru saw variation as differences not deficits because

localised varieties of English were used for communication amongst non-native English

speakers and English is used to impart local culture not only that of the Inner Circle

(Jenkins, 67).

Despite attempting to show English as not specific to a particular region or group,

Kachrus model received some of the same criticism of earlier models. A major area of

contention was the connotation involved with the composition of the Inner Circle. The

Inner Circle includes the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New

Zealand. Historically, these nations were colonising powers responsible for the

transportation of English to every continent.

Kachru describes the Inner Circle as norm providing, the Outer Circle as norm-

developing and the Expanding Circle as norm accepting (Rajadurai, 112). The concept of

the Expanding Circle being norm dependant has been called into question by

Canagarajah. English is used as a lingua franca in this circle and would produce its own

norms and multilingual speakers do not seem to defer to inner-circle norms when they

communicate with each other in English (232). Also, in the Expanding circles, the

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proficiency in English is near native so there is no need to accept norms. This

terminology, combined with the fact that many ESL texts are produced from such

countries, gives prestige to the Inner Circle Englishes which defeats the purpose of

designing a new model of English.

Rajadurai identifies some further weaknesses in Kachrus concept of the

development of norms. Firstly, the division of norm-providing and accepting reinforces

connotations of divisiveness and superiority. It is also noted that the other circles have

developed their own standards that not only provide norms for internal consumption but

are also exported to other countries (116). Examples are seen in the number of ESL

teachers that are not from the Inner Circle, literature in English from authors like Achebe

and Desai and the production of texts on Indian English. This supports Canagarajahs

view that the circles are leaking, the boundaries neither contain nor prevent penetration

by other Englishes.

The positioning of the Inner Circle in the centre means that the norm producers

are defined by geography not proficiency. This means that the boundaries between the

circles cannot be well defined. Canagarajah describes this reality as having circles that

are leaking (231). Due to the circles being mainly geographical, globalisation caused a

movement of English speakers throughout the circles. Companies from the Inner Circle

transact business with the other Circles; as a result, knowledge of other Englishes is

important to organisational efficiency. Canagarajah also disputes the assumption that

English is used solely for extra community relations in the expanding circle (232).

Also, the Expanding and Outer Circles appear apart from the Inner Circle; therefore, one

can see the diversity of English but not the commonality.

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In addition, linguistic superiority is conferred to the ENL speakers in the Inner

circle. Members of the Inner Circle are presumed to speak English from an early age and

posses the best norms. This is a problematic criterion because there are members of

Kachrus core with non-native English populations. For example, the United Kingdom is

listed in the core but in this single territory there is Gaelic and Scots in Scotland, Welsh

in Wales and also some Gaelic speakers in Northern Ireland. Hence, the Inner Circle is

not as homogenous as it seems. A more appropriate criterion instead of nativeness can be

functional nativeness, which would lean towards proficiency.

Richardson also doubts the clear-cut production and acceptance of norms. The

majority of English speakers today do not come from the Inner Circle, so international

communication would involve non-native speakers that would produce new norms (12).

The Englishes present in each circle is clear but how it is used is not. For example,

English is not confined to trade and communication in the Expanding Circle. Neither is

the Inner Circle Englishes the same in grammar, vocabulary and syntax, if this were so

there would be no point in differentiating them. As the model implies that the countries in

each circle are the same, it does not account for the linguistic variation that actually


In light of the weaknesses of Kachrus model, attempts were made to develop one

that more accurately represented the sociolinguistic reality of the spread of English;

Modianos model comes close to doing this. Modiano developed a centripetal instead of

concentric model. This model is not determined by geography or nativeness but by

proficiency. The innermost circle consists of those who are proficient in English as an

International Language (EIL), the next circle is of those proficient in English as a native

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and foreign language, the third circle comprises of English learners and the last circle

consists of people who do not know English (See Figure 2). The model does not differ

drastically for the three concentric circles as it rejects notions of prestige, promotes the

diversity of English and gives a geopolitical view of the spread of the language. It also

addresses some of the major concerns about the Kachrus model: the concept of norms,

connotations of prestige, identification of the use of English in each circle and the issue

of nativeness.

Figure 2: Modianos Centripetal Circles

English as an International Language (EIL), which is in the centre of Modianos

model, is based on proficiency alone. As English is a globally functioning language its

centre cannot be limited to a particular place or group. The centre does not only include

native English speakers. The question of norms is also addressed; Kachru placed the

production of norms with the centre or Inner Circle which consists of native English

speakers. Instead Modiano legitimises Outer Circle Englishes to a greater extent by

having non-native speakers of EIL define and develop norms (Burt, 4). The model also

provides a clear place for Creoles in the second circle. In this circle, Creole speakers are

on par with speakers of other Englishes, even from Kachrus Inner Circle.

Simultaneously, Creoles are not in the centre because it is understood by mainly other

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Creole speakers. It also is allows movement from the Outer Circle to the Inner one

through the learning of EIL.

Despite Modianos work on improving Kachrus model, some questions still

remain. Firstly there is the problem of defining some assertions made by Modiano. In

light of the democratic stance of English ownership, a linguistic feature is correct only if

it is used and understood by the majority of proficient speakers of EIL (Burt, 4). This

would exclude English speakers with strong regional accents. It would mean that there

cannot be varieties of EIL, but what will classify as a strong accent is left unanswered.

Modiano redrafted the model which highlighted the common core of all varieties of

English as the centre. Jenkins notes that the question of what goes into the core remains

unanswered (23). There is no clear definition of proficiency either, Richardson quotes

Modiano who defines proficiency as common sense and intuition (21). Hence, what

consists of the core or EIL is still uncertain.

The equating of proficient non-native speakers with native ones is inappropriate

as knowledge of a language does not equate to native performance. The greater emphasis

on diversity by Modiano seems to make describing EIL difficult, without regularity of

features it would be difficult to legitimise it. The model was criticised for maintaining an

ideal in the form of EIL. The conclusion can therefore be made that any model would

always include an ideal as a reference point. The question therefore is whether to have an

ideal based on nativeness and geography or one based on proficiency. Modianos model

shows English as an international/global/ world language so proficiency must be used as

a centre as is least discriminatory.

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Kachrus model of the spread of the English was a significant to the

sociolinguistic development of the English language. The model succeeded in creating

awareness of the existence of other Englishes as distinct varieties instead of incomplete

attempts to learn the language. Its weaknesses in the indirect prestige given to the

Eurocentric varieties of English and lack of fluidity between circles were answered by

Modiano. However, while Modiano creates a more egalitarian model and sets clearer

criteria for the placement of Englishes, the important definitions of EIL and core features

of English remain to be clarified.

Works Cited

Burt, Channing. What is International English? Working Papers in TESOL and Applied
Linguistics 5.1 (2005): 1-19 Web. 15 Mar. 2010.

Canagarajah, Suresh. Changing Communicative Needs, Revised Assessment Objectives:

Testing English as an International Language. Language Assessment Quarterly
3.3 (2006): 9-20 Web. 17 Mar. 2010.

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Crystal, David. English as a Global Language. 2nd. ed. Cambridge: Cambridge U P,

2003. Print.

Jenkins, Jennifer. World Englishes: A Resource Book for Students. 2nd. ed. London:
Routledge, 2009. Print.

Kilickaya, Ferit. World Englishes, English as an International Language and Applied

Linguistics. CCSE 2.1 (2006): 229-242 Web. 17 Mar. 2010.

McArthur, Tom. The English Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge U P, 1998. Print.

Rajadurai, Joanne. Revisiting the Concentric Circles: Conceptual and Sociolinguistic

Considerations. The Asian EFL Journal Quarterly 7.4 (2005): 111-130 Web. 11
Mar. 2010.

Richardson, Bunny. The Potential Use of Slow Down Technology to Improve

Pronunciation of English for International Communication. Diss. Dublin
Institute of Technology, 2009. Web. 1 Mar. 2010.

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