Mind your language 1

September 21, 2007

The debate over appropriate standards of English in a globalised world is getting stuck: the speakers are talking at cross-purposes. As Charles Owen points out (Letters, September 14), situational appropriateness is crucial in evaluating language use. When we teach future language professionals in English departments, Standard English clearly plays an important role. But when English is used as a lingua franca - what Jennifer Jenkins ("Lashed by the mother tongue", September 7) talks about - the situation is different.

International academic communities communicate in largely non-native groups. What counts is clarity, effectiveness and contextual appropriateness of communication. While high academic standards are vital, native-like English is not.

Anna Mauranen
Professor of English
University of Helsinki

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