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Front. Commun., 16 September 2022
Sec. Language Sciences

Editorial: Englishes in a globalized world: Exploring contact effects on other languages

  • 1Department of English, University of Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt, Austria
  • 2Institute of English and American Studies, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

The diversity of Englishes around the world continues to stir the interest of researchers working in different fields of linguistics, language and communication. English in its myriad forms, uses and functions globally can be approached from multiple perspectives, such as linguistic descriptions on all levels of language, language policy, socio-critical analysis, language history, language teaching and many more. Among the many ways of investigating Englishes, the current Research Topic takes the perspectives of language contact and multilingualism to highlight the interaction of Englishes with other languages. Analyzing Englishes in their multilingual contexts has gained importance in research on world Englishes (see, e.g., Siemund and Leimgruber, 2021; Siemund, 2022), and the application of language contact in relation to multilingual realities helps to understand the multiple forms, uses and functions of Englishes.

In light of this, the sixteen contributions to the Research Topic cover a great range of diverse contexts in which English interacts with other languages and in which Englishes have been and continue to be shaped by contact with other languages. In general, the articles in this Research Topic can be situated in a language contact model of world Englishes (Onysko, 2016), which functions as an umbrella for the different aspects and contexts dealt with in this Research Topic. The model, Language Contact Typology of Englishes, describes the general contact settings that underly the diversity of Englishes across the world. The Language Contact Typology (LCT) postulates five different macro-types of Englishes that emerge from basic scenarios of language contact: (1) Global Englishes (GEs), which captures the status of English as the main voice of globalizing trends and developments in business, technology, communication and various cultural domains (e.g., music and film). In this function, Englishes, mostly from Western L1 settings, serve as main donor codes of English linguistic material, typically borrowings, that become integrated in major language communities. (2) Englishes in Multilingual Constellations (EMCs), which refers to situations in which English is part of speakers' bi- and multilingual repertoires and usually plays an active role in people's everyday lives among one or more other languages. Postcolonial contexts where English coexists with other languages and multilingualism in situations of migration to mainly English-speaking territories and communities are two major examples of EMCs. (3) Learner Englishes (LEs) most prototypically arise in acquisitional settings, in which English is learned in institutional contexts while the language is not used as an everyday code among others in a speaker community. The importance of English as an international medium of communication has given the language prominence as a learner language worldwide and this status also boosts the role of Global Englishes as knowledge of the language can facilitate the borrowing of English elements in other languages. At the same time, the use of English as a lingua franca among interlocutors not sharing the same L1 background or other codes is to various extents influenced by their learner Englishes implemented in international exchange and often influenced by transfer features from the speakers' L1 and other language backgrounds. (4) Koiné Englishes (KEs) describes varieties that are shaped by dialect contact. This holds for both standardized and non-standardized L1 Englishes (e.g., American English, British dialects, New Zealand English, and so on) used in largely monolingual settings. L1 Englishes in contact with other languages can take in some, mostly lexical, borrowings from these languages (e.g., Māori loanwords in New Zealand English). (5) English-based Pidgins and Creoles (EPCs) refers to the particular contact scenario of Englishes having been formed due to restricted communicative needs of dominant English speakers and speakers of other languages, mostly in situations of trade or slavery. From a current point of view, EPCs have developed into fully functional codes that frequently remain in close contact with more standardized forms of English, leading to a process of variable decreolization, as in the contexts of Jamaica, the US (Gullah), the Bahamas, and Hawai'i, to name just a few.

When applying the LCT to conventionally labeled Englishes, two major trajectories of variation have to be highlighted. Firstly, as the LCT takes contact settings as a point of departure, forms and uses of English can both be analyzed on the individual speaker level as well as among a speaker community if the conditions of contact are shared. This means that actual manifestations of Englishes can be influenced by several contact scenarios at a time, and conventionally named Englishes can actually be shaped by a combination of different contact settings. For instance, Indian English, Nigerian English, Singapore English and many other X-Englishes, can be subject to variable contact settings, combining the types of multilingual, learner and global Englishes depending on the individual or community level of English use and exposure to the language (see Onysko and Siemund on English in multilingual contexts). Secondly, intersections between the major contact types are also possible on an historical dimension. Irish English (see the contributions to the Research Topic by Kirk and Shimada), for example, was shaped in a bilingual contact setting of speakers shifting from Irish towards English, i.e., a context of EMC. From a current perspective, however, the contact features of Irish English that have been carried over from Irish have become conventionalized forms of Irish English and the language has become part of dialect contact scenarios (Koiné Englishes) while Irish English as an EMC remains possible in active bilingual communities of Gaelic and English speakers.

Considering the flexible, contact-centric approach to the diversity of Englishes across the world, the contributions to this Research Topic speak to several of the main contact types.

The majority of the articles exemplify the type of Global Englishes (GEs), in which English elements become incorporated in different recipient language communities. Kapo's research report, for example, provides an overview of the types of English loans and their integration into Albanian, following a descriptive tradition of anglicism research.

Hunt's study investigates the use of English loanwords in a German newspaper that is published for a bilingual audience of English and German as heritage language speakers in Australia. Among his findings, Hunt determines that anglicisms in texts taken from the German press agency (DPA) are more frequently flagged compared to articles published by local Australian journalists. Increased flagging can create an alienating effect in a fully bilingual, local readership in Australia.

The contribution by Scherling et al. takes the perception and reinterpretation of English song lyrics by native speakers of Japanese as a case in point to show how English elements are integrated into recipient language phonetic systems. The processes at play comprise sound substitutions, insertions, deletions and boundary transgressions with substitutions occurring by far most frequently in the author's corpus of soramimi (“mishearings”).

Schuring and Zenner take a socio-pragmatic developmental approach to anglicism research. They investigate the use of English loanwords in Belgian Dutch among a group of young children using sociolinguistic interviews. Results show an overall rate of 9.7% of English loanwords with female children using significantly more English elements.

Research on aspects of the contact type of Global Englishes continues with two in-depth studies that each trace the integration and development of one English expression in a recipient language. Kailich follows the occurrence of the English-induced neologism Covidiota in Spanish Twitter posts, and De Pascale et al. take construction grammar as a lens to observe the life-cycle of the phrasal borrowing pimp my ride in Belgian Dutch. The section on Global Englishes closes with a perspective article by Schaefer who takes the example of anglicisms in the German radio to call for future anglicism research to focus on semiotic assemblages in transmedial and transmodal mass media communication.

Three studies in the Research Topic deal with aspects of Englishes in multilingual constellations (EMCs). McLellan investigates multilingual language practices in Malaysia and Brunei. He shows the interplay of English and Malay in examples of language use on social media, posing the question of whether social media are drivers of language change and whether the multilingual practices observable there might even be considered separate varieties.

Chan tackles the issue of constructional borrowing among bilingual English and Cantonese speakers in Hong Kong. The author provides a close up on three English constructions, which can occur in Hong Kong Cantonese when it functions as a matrix language in this multilingual constellation.

Westphal provides an analysis of multilingual contact effects in world Englishes on the level of pragmatics. He focuses on question tags in Nigerian English, taking both a corpus linguistic and a questionnaire-based survey approach. The findings of the corpus data demonstrate the use of invariant tags of both English and Nigerian origin while prescriptive attitudes emerge from the favorable ratings of variant tag questions.

A few more papers in this Research Topic are couched in multilingual settings that intersect with Learner Englishes and the use of English as a lingua franca. In line with transnationalism and the sociolinguistics of globalization (Blommaert, 2010), Mohr's study is an example of world Englishes research from a transnational and social-mediatized perspective. She investigates the use of English as a lingua franca in hashtags related to a popular tourist destination, tapping into the user's identity construction on social media.

Aspects of multilingualism, learner Englishes and English as a lingua franca guide Lorenz's investigation of the discourse marker like in the United Arab Emirates. As part of a larger project on Language repertoires and attitudes of students in the United Arab Emirates (see, e.g., Siemund et al., 2021), her study tests various potential factors that might influence the occurrence of like.

Set in the related context of Saudi Arabia, AlShurfa's et al. study is an example of the contact type of Learner Englishes. The authors discuss a range of syntactic features, demonstrating how transfer from L1 Arabic influences the shape of Saudi English.

Learner Englishes and the importance of English as a global, international language is at the center of Peterson's article on English in Finland. The author takes a critical view as, on the one hand, English has become part of Nordic Exceptionalism, which is expressed in the widely held and misguided belief that “everybody can speak English.” On the other hand, the teaching of English is still strongly geared towards so called native-speaker norms, perpetuating widely criticized imbalances across the Englishes-speaking world (cf. Kirkpatrick, 2021 for a general discussion of this issue).

Finally, two articles in the Research Topic address aspects of Irish English that fits the classification of Koiné Englishes from a current point of view. Shimada traces the history of how Irish or Hiberno English was formed as a language shift variety in a bilingual constellation before focusing on three grammatical constructions that exemplify Irish contact and that have been retained as characteristic features of Hiberno English on its way of having turned into an L1 variety shaped by dialect contact over the past century.

Kirk takes the discussion of Irish English onto a more general level of world Englishes. Drawing from different data sources (ICE corpora, handbooks, the electronic World Atlas of Varieties of English, and the GloWbE corpus), he investigates how Irish English fits into models of world Englishes.

The different facets of language contact involving Englishes addressed in this Research Topic emphasize the diverse manifestations and influences of contact between Englishes and other languages. While this diversity can be organized in line with the Language Contact Typology summarized and applied here, all the contributions investigate unique aspects within these broad types. Moreover, the articles draw from a wide range of data, such as social media language, corpora, elicited responses, questionnaires, and interviews, and they provide further insights into the fundamental role of language contact for the uses and functions of Englishes worldwide.

Author contributions

AO and PS jointly planned and drafted the article. AO completed and finalized the piece. All authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

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Keywords: World Englishes, language contact, multilingualism, anglicisms, Language Contact Typology of Englishes

Citation: Onysko A and Siemund P (2022) Editorial: Englishes in a globalized world: Exploring contact effects on other languages. Front. Commun. 7:1029561. doi: 10.3389/fcomm.2022.1029561

Received: 27 August 2022; Accepted: 02 September 2022;
Published: 16 September 2022.

Edited and reviewed by: Xiaolin Zhou, Peking University, China

Copyright © 2022 Onysko and Siemund. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Alexander Onysko,