Several attempts have been made to model the spread and diffusion of English as a global language (Kachru 1988, Görlach 1991, McArthur 1987, Crystal 1997). Kachru’s (1988) concentric circle model (Figure 1) captures the historical, sociolinguistic, acquisitional, and literary contexts of the spread and diffusion of English.
In this model, the inner circle refers to the traditional bases of English, where it is the primary language, with an estimated 320–380 million speakers (Crystal 1997). The outer circle represents the spread of English in nonnative contexts, where it has been institutionalized as an additional language, with an estimated 150–300 million speakers. The expanding circle, with a steady increase in the number of speakers and functional domains, includes nations where English is used primarily as a foreign language, with an estimated 100–1000 million speakers (Crystal 1997).
The impact and extent of spread is not easily quantifiable because many varieties of English are used for both inter- and intranational functions.
- Bhatt, Rakesh M. 2001. World Englishes. Annual Review of Anthropology 30, 527–550.
- Crystal, David. 1997. English as a global language. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
- Görlach, Manfred. 1991. Englishes: Studies in varieties of English. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
- Kachru, Braj B. 1988. The spread of English and sacred linguistic cows. Language spread and language policy: Issues, implications, and case studies, ed. by Peter H. Lowenberg, 207–28. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
- McArthur, Tom. 1987. The English languages? English today 3.3, 9–13.
I would also add that inner circle Englishes are norm-providing and associated with the first diaspora of English; outer circle Englishes are norm-developing and associated with the second diaspora of English (i.e., British colonialization); and expanding circle Englishes are norm-dependent and not associated with any particular historical period. Additionally, there is some shift towards English as a native language (that is, the first language an individual acquires) in outer circle nations.
This tumblr focuses on outer circle Englishes, although I may venture at some points into inner circle and expanding circle Englishes.