Varieties of English


The tools of corpus linguistics have made it possible to demonstrate that, far from being a monolithic entity, language consists of a large number of varieties. Several varieties of English have been examined at the CECL. Thus, English for Academic Purposes (EAP) has been considered with a view to identifying a common-core academic vocabulary and describing its phraseological features. Other studies have highlighted the difficulties learners experience when writing academic texts. In this respect, the Centre has been involved in the second edition of the Macmillan English Dictionary, which provides the reader with practical advice to write academic texts. Also, one of the CECL projects aims to develop an electronic dictionary of Academic English coupled with writing aid software.

Business English is another variety that is being studied at the CECL, with special emphasis on the identification and analysis of prefabs found in this type of discourse. We are particularly interested in prefabs from general business English that express essential notions like time, contrast or quantity. The expression of quantification, which appears to be especially important for business English, is the topic of a project that seeks to bring to light the diversity of the "quantification tool box" (nouns, adjectives, adverbs, etc) in English, French and Dutch.

Finally, the new, indigenised varieties of English (World Englishes) are also considered at the CECL. Particularly interesting from our point of view is how the distinctive features of these varieties relate and compare to those of learner English, and how any similarities between the two types of varieties may be explained.