English in Cyprus

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The postcolonial linguistic situation of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus has been widely neglected in research investigating the spread of English around the globe. This article seeks to remedy the lack of systematic investigation and places Cyprus English within the framework of World Englishes research. However, the linguistic reality is complex and heterogeneous, and Cyprus English can neither be assigned clear English as a Second Language (ESL) nor English as a Foreign Language (EFL) status. We illustrate what we came to see as a hybrid and complex situation drawing on data from a preliminary analysis of linguistic features attested in the CEDAR (Cyprus English Data Analysis and Research) corpus, and we link this analysis with findings from a sociolinguistic background analysis, a survey of language attitudes and of the use speakers make of English. To approach the question whether or not Cyprus English should be considered a second language variety, or whether it best be viewed as a kind of learner English, we suggest a way to map feature occurrence, possible structural nativization, and the influence of sociolinguistic variables to a matrix, the Variety Spectrum. Assuming hybrid ESL-EFL status for Cyprus English, we finally show that Kachru’s Three Circles model (Kachru 1985, 1992) does not account for such complex linguistic situations. We thus suggest the use of more flexible models for placing Cyprus English on the map of World Englishes (see Bruthiaux 2003).


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