Accents in broader perspective


Barbara Seidlhofer (Vienna)


As is clear from the ten "workshop themes" posted on the PLM 2003 Focus on Accents web page as well as from the majority of the abstracts available to date, this event is centrally concerned with the issues raised by Jennifer Jenkins' publications on the phonology of English as an international language and, more specifically, her proposal for what she has called Lingua Franca Core.


While I have not been involved in Jenkins' work on pronunciation, I share with her the conviction that the unprecedented global spread of English as a lingua franca calls for a reconsideration of some time-honoured assumptions about language description and language pedagogy. I will therefore attempt to provide a broader context for the discussion and argue for a more holistic approach to the description of English as an international language and to pedagogical implications that arise from it. Pronunciation is certainly an extremely important aspect, but it needs to be considered in conjunction with other levels of language as well as with a host of socio-political and socio-psychological factors, whose combined role in international communication the research community has only recently begun to investigate.


Since Jennifer Jenkins unfortunately cannot be present at the Panel/Workshop, I have adjusted the focus of my own contribution in order to be able to include some of the issues she would ideally have talked about herself. In addressing these I will also try and clear up some widespread and persistent misconceptions relating to work in this area.