Volume 34, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0172-8865
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9730
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Contact between and mutual influences among varieties of standard and non-standard English have always been a central concern in research on World Englishes. In a mobile and globalising world such contacts are by no means restricted to diffusion of features in face-to-face interaction, across contiguous territories in space or up and down the sociolinguistic scale. In order to better represent and understand the complex relationships obtaining between varieties of standard and non-standard English in the contemporary “English language complex” (McArthur 2003: 56; Mesthrie and Bhatt 2008: 1–3), the present paper proposes a new theoretical model, based on language systems theory (de Swaan 2002, 2010). While the model is not designed to supersede existing alternatives, such as the Kachruvian (1982) Circles, it will nevertheless complement them in important ways, chiefly because it is better equipped to handle uses of English in domains beyond the post-colonial nation state. The “World System of Englishes” model was developed in the course of the author’s work on the use of pidgins and creoles in web forums serving the post-colonial West African and Caribbean diasporas. The way Nigerian Pidgin figures in the creation of a globalised digital ethnolinguistic repertoire will hence serve as an illustration of its usefulness.


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