①A feature of English in the last 200 years or so has been the birth of a number of national varieties. It is important to note, however, that the different varieties are relatively similar to each other; for the most part, speakers of one variety can understand speakers of another without much difficulty since the grammar of English is essentially the same around the world. The varieties differ in a relatively small amount of vocabulary, which usually serves to make a variety interesting rather than particularly difficult to understand. The main difference between varieties is usually in the pronunciation, which can make comprehension difficult, but which has little to do with the underlying structure of the language itself. English started its international expansion only a few centuries ago and that has not been enough time for major differences among varieties to develop. Also, English-speaking countries tend to be highly literate. This, combined with the development of mass communications, has exposed most speakers to the standard forms of English, and this in turn has tended to limit major variation. Therefore, when we speak of the differences in national varieties, it is important to remember just how similar all the forms of English are.
②So the varieties of English are relatively similar around the world at present, but will this situation last? In the short term, the answer is probably yes. Language change takes time, and we are unlikely to see big changes in the near future. But beyond this, language change is very difficult to predict. It depends on the factors that support or suppress language diversification, and to understand these, we need to understand the purposes for ( a ) a language is used. According to David Graddol, a British linguist who has written on the future of English, English has two main functions in the world: as a means of international communication and as a means to create cultural identities. The first function serves to push English toward greater uniformity, with the ideal being a "standard international variety" of English that people all around the world could speak, thus making international communication easier. However, the second function leads to an increasing number of local or regional varieties, each of which is identified with a local culture. In this way, the people of a particular place can possess their own version of English, thus maintaining their cultural identity while at the same time gaining the benefits of using a language which is well-known internationally.
③Given the prominent position of English in the world today, it might be assumed that the "international communication" function will win out and that the varieties of English will eventually merge into a single World Standard English. This may well happen, given English's very strong position at present, but it is not guaranteed. There are a number of factors that may cause a World Standard English not to develop. First, the priority of printing (which leads to a standard form) is weakening, with more electronic forms of information available online all the time. The new electronic technology often leads to the creation of forms of English that are shortened and which are different from the standard written language in various ways; ( b ), e-mail is currently one of the most common forms of electronic information transfer, and it is often written in a stream of consciousness fashion and sent without being spell-checked or revised. In this way, it often resembles conversation more than conventional written language. This is not surprising, because the original reasons for e-mail were its speed and convenience, and the need to revise carefully would reduce these advantages.
④Another recent phenomenon is text messaging on mobile phones. The phones do not have a full keyboard, and keying in text messages via the number keyboard is somewhat awkward; ( c ), users use abbreviations and symbols to minimize the number of keystrokes required. Also, some phone companies limit text messages to a certain number of characters (for example, 160 characters, including spaces), which encourages the use of various shortened forms. Some examples are given below.
(do you want to be)
miss you so much
⑤The following text dialogue between two University of Nottingham students contains a number of short forms.
Student B: Had a good 1 wit Ben. Cooked me meal, Chick + pasta, notin' changes! U in 4 dnr?
Student A: Yep, lectures til 5. CU then, x
The full English translations of these messages would look like this:
Student B: I had a good one (evening) with Ben. He cooked me a meal, chicken and pasta. Nothing changes! Are you coming for dinner ?
Student A: Yes. I have lectures until 5 p.m. See you then, (kiss)
⑥E-mail and text messaging and the shortcuts they use have raised many questions relating to the spelling and presentation of English. Because speed is important in both, normal rules of capitalization and spelling are often ignored, and shortened forms are common. Will these developments affect the writing of English generally ? So far, the effects on the writing system seem to be confined mainly to the matter of capital letters. They are not given high priority, and people who would never normally dream of writing their own name without initial capital letters find themselves doing so in electronic addresses (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org). Use of small letters ( d ) capitals in the texts of e-mails is increasingly common, and teachers have noticed the habit in students' homework, too. It is also becoming more common in other areas as well, such as advertising.
⑦Thus, electronic forms of communication are producing new written forms of English and some of these reduce the distinction between the written and the spoken forms of the language. This may be more acceptable to societies now than before, as there appears to be a general movement toward a greater tolerance of diversity. Whereas in former times there might have been complaints about incorrectly written English, nowadays people seem increasingly comfortable with the idea that different types of English might be suitable for different purposes and media. These trends may push toward greater diversification of English rather than toward standardization.
⑧A second factor possibly acting against the establishment of a World Standard English is the changing nature of broadcasting. Initially, the development of satellite broadcasting had a unifying influence on English, as large numbers of people in many countries around the world were exposed to standard varieties. But the people watching these programs were mainly the educated and wealthy viewers, ( e ) formed only a small percentage of the potential audience. Because of this, there is now a trend toward international broadcasters "localizing" their programming to reach wider audiences. This involves shaping the programming to the local context, with more locally created material, using local talent, and broadcasting in the local language. Thus, the formerly unifying nature of satellite broadcasting may instead turn into a force for diversification.
⑨A third factor is the nature of English language teaching (ELT). Previously, most of the internationally available, commercially produced materials have used a small number of varieties, most notably American, British, and Australian English, leading to a similar underlying English being taught. The existing commercial ELT producers are unlikely to go away, ( f ) other producers will probably join them. As regional Englishes develop, and perhaps become widely used within regional economic trade zones, countries in those zones may begin to publish aggressively and promote their own materials. It is not difficult to predict that this will happen in China, ( g ) there is a huge internal market, and a number of Chinese publishers are working to meet demand. These publishers may also attempt to market their material in the wider Asian region, especially as China becomes economically more powerful. We can already see similar things happening in other countries. Malaysia is working to become a provider, rather than a recipient, of English language education, exporting English materials to other countries around the region and setting up universities to attract students from around the Southern Hemisphere. The overall effect may be that teaching materials in a number of English varieties will compete for ELT business, thus moving away from the standardized ELT materials in use at present.
⑩In sum, the prominent position of English in the world today suggests that English may well become more unified in the future. However, there are also several factors working against this. Graddol suggests that the most likely scenario for English in the future is that a number of English varieties will continue to compete for usage in the world.
(1) Choose the best way to complete the following sentences about paragraphs ① to ⑨. Do not use the same answer twice.
1 Paragraph ① describes
2 Paragraph ② describes
3 Paragraph ③ describes
4 Paragraph ④ describes
5 Paragraph ⑤ describes
6 Paragraph ⑥ describes
7 Paragraph ⑦ describes
8 Paragraph ⑧ describes
9 Paragraph ⑨ describes
A an example text message together with a standard English version of the same message.
B how electronic communication compares to spoken and written English.
C how publishers in Asia are beginning to produce materials for English teaching.
D how students are beginning to use e-mail abbreviations in their homework.
E how the design of mobile phones has had an effect on the way English is used in text messages.
F how the different national varieties of English are still quite similar despite differences in pronunciation.
G how World Standard English will develop thanks to the establishment of satellite broadcasting.
H the effect of e-mail and text messaging on the use of capitalization in English.
I the fact that educated and wealthy people are likely to be promoters of World Standard English.
J the fact that English speakers are becoming accustomed to different forms of English for different purposes.
K the functions of language which work to make the varieties of English more similar or more diverse.
L the ways in which satellite broadcasters are adapting their programs to local audiences.
M why people around the world prefer to use teaching materials produced in the U.S., U.K, or Australia.
(2) Choose the best word or phrase to put in each of the spaces ( a ) to ( g ). Do not use the same answer twice.
A apart from B as a result C but D for example E if F in addition
G instead of H where I which J who