Valentin Werner

Linguistic globalization across Kachruvian circles: Evidence from the lexicon in ENL, ESL and EFL varieties (joint plenary lecture with Manfred Krug)

In this talk, we develop a perspective on English as a as a global contact language. While corpus-based approaches have been dominating the study of English varieties worldwide (including learner Englishes), we relate typologically motivated approaches with variationist questionnaire data (Dollinger 2015; Krug et al. 2016, 2020). Specifically, for our analyses we rely on the lexical portion of the Bamberg Questionnaire Database (Krug & Sell 2013), which comprises information on speakers’ choices pertaining to 68 items (e.g. truck vs. lorry, traffic circle vs. roundabout, autumn vs. fall, etc.) as well as extensive informant metadata (e.g. age, gender, languages, educational profile, etc.). The scope of this resource – which has been compiled over the last decade and is still growing – is broad and now allows for a detailed comparison of varieties across the Kachruvian, status-based variety type spectrum. As of May 2022, it contains more than 5,000 informants with some 300.000 data points overall, and it comprises material from varieties categorized as ‘Inner Circle/English as a Native Language’ (ENL, e.g. American and British English), ‘Outer Circle/as a Second Language’ (ESL, e.g. Gibraltar, Maltese, and Puerto Rican English), as well as ‘Expanding Circle/as a Foreign Language’ (EFL, e.g. German, Slovenian, and Swedish Learner English).

We suggest that such a database can be explored to shed light on a number of interesting issues. These include (i) identifying the actual existence of distinct regional and/or variety type patterns and, on a related note, (ii) determining the relative influence of British and American English, respectively, as lexifier or “parent” varieties for different ESL and EFL varieties. We also intend to show the benefits of an integrated study of different variety types (see, e.g., Mukherjee & Hundt 2011; Deshors 2018), especially against the backdrop of the observation that boundaries between ESL and EFL varieties are becoming increasingly fuzzy.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, our study supports the conceptualization of a variety type continuum rather than status-based categorizations. We further argue (i) that variety-internal variation is often motivated lexically rather than socially, and (ii) that, rather than exclusively figuring in a teleological fashion (e.g. as mere Americanization), globalization in the lexicon sometimes figures as a trend towards longer-term free variation.


  • Deshors, Sandra C. (ed.) 2018. Modeling World Englishes: Assessing the Interplay of Emancipation and Globalization of ESL Varieties. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  • Dollinger, Stefan. 2015. The Written Questionnaire in Social Dialectology: History, Theory, Practice. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  • Krug, Manfred & Katrin Sell. 2013. Designing and conducting interviews and questionnaires. In Manfred Krug & Julia Schlüter (eds.), Research Methods in Language Variation and Change, 69–98. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Krug, Manfred, Ole Schützler & Valentin Werner. 2016. Patterns of linguistic globalization: Integrating typological profiles and questionnaire data. In Olga Timofeeva, Anne-Christine Gardner, Alpo Honkapohja & Sarah Chevalier (eds.), New Approaches to English Linguistics: Building Bridges, 35–66. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  • Krug, Manfred, Ole Schützler & Valentin Werner. 2020. How British is Gibraltar English? In Paloma Nuñez Pertejo, María José López-Couso, Belén Méndez-Naya & Javier Pérez-Guerra (eds.), Crossing Linguistic Boundaries: Systemic, Synchronic and Diachronic Variation in English, 153–186. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Mukherjee, Joybrato & Marianne Hundt (eds.) 2011. Exploring Second-Language Varieties of English and Learner Englishes: Bridging a Paradigm Gap. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Valentin Werner is Associate Professor of English and Historical Linguistics at the University of Bamberg, Germany. His research areas comprise applied linguistics, variational linguistics, media linguistics, as well as stylistics.

In addition to papers published in journals such as CorporaCorpus Pragmatics, English Language & Linguistics, and Text & Talk, he has (co-)edited the volumes Stylistic Approaches to Pop Culture (2022; with Christoph Schubert), Pop Culture in Language Education: Theory, Research, Practice (2021; with Friederike Tegge), The Language of Pop Culture (2018), Re-Assessing the Present Perfect (2016; with Elena Seoane & Cristina Suárez-Gómez), as well as several journal special issues, for instance of Linguistics on the replication crisis (2021; with Lukas Sönning), of the International Journal of Corpus Linguistics on telecinematic language (2021; with Monika Bednarek & Marcia Veirano Pinto) and of the International Journal of Learner Corpus Research on tense and aspect in learner language (2018; with Robert Fuchs).

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