Global English (GlobE): typological, contact-linguistic and second-language acquisition perspectives

The rise of English to a position of a lingua franca in the present-day world has led to the emergence of something that has come to be called ‘Global English’, i.e. English as a world language. This new English is now used for numerous purposes as a means of international interaction, as well as a daily means of communication for hundreds of millions of people in countries where English has obtained the position of a second official or unofficial language, i.e. as an L2 language. In addition to these, even more people all over the world learn English as a ‘foreign’ language as part of their basic and further education.
     These developments have not come about without impacting on the English language itself, which is currently undergoing processes of accelerated change, divergence and convergence in several core domains of its grammar and lexis. So far, only few of these processes have been adequately described in linguistic research, which has focused on either current trends in the ‘mainstream’ varieties of English, distinctive traits of the ‘New Englishes’ in mainly postcolonial contexts, or typologies of standard and non-standard varieties. Because of its mainly historical orientation, research on language contacts, for its part, has hitherto had little to say about current contact situations, although they are likely to have deep-going effects on the very shape of English. What has also particularly been lacking is research into the role and characteristics of English as a lingua franca.
     The GlobE Consortium, under funding from the Academy of Finland for the period 2010-2013, sets out to fill the mentioned gaps in the existing research by building on, and combining, the efforts and expertise gained in two previous Academy projects. These are the English as a Lingua Franca project (ELFA), based in the University of Helsinki and led by Anna Mauranen, and the project on Vernacular Universals vs. Contact-Induced Language Change (UniCont), carried out jointly in the Universities of Joensuu and Tampere and led by Markku Filppula and Juhani Klemola. GlobE enables us to combine the strengths of the three methodological and theoretical approaches that we believe are essential to a better understanding of the processes that English is undergoing on its way of becoming a world language, viz. typological, contact-linguistic, and second-language acquisition research. By combining these three viewpoints we seek to discover ongoing developments in English as a global language, their sources, manifestations, as well as the typological characteristics of emerging Global English, by examining and comparing established varieties, non-standard varieties and other emergent varieties of English. Our particular focus is on the commonalities among the varieties and the main trends of development.
     The leader of the GlobE Consortium and of GlobE Joensuu is Markku Filppula, while GlobE Helsinki is led by Anna Mauranen and GlobE Tampere by Juhani Klemola.