Lesser-Known Varieties

Lesser-Known and Expanding Circle Varieties of English on Social Media

Workshop organisers: Jakob Leimgruber (Basel/Freiburg), Sven Leuckert (Dresden), Sofia Rüdiger (Bayreuth)

While ‘lesser-known’ varieties of English (LKEs, cf. Schreier, Trudgill, Schneider, and Williams 2010; Williams, Schneider, Trudgill, and Schreier 2015) and Expanding Circle Englishes (ECEs, Kachru 1985) may have received less attention than more widely studied varieties (with Indian English, Singapore English, South African English as cases in point), they certainly are not ‘lesser’ in deserving scholarly attention. The goal of this workshop is to stimulate researchers’ exchanges on lesser-known varieties, understood here as varieties that have not yet been subjected to extensive scrutiny, and ECEs. In contrast to previous approaches, which focused primarily on varieties in ‘Inner’ and ‘Outer’ Circle contexts, we include varieties spoken in either ‘Inner’, ‘Outer’, or ‘Expanding’ Circle settings. As a key component of the workshop, our focus lies on the manifestation, realisation, and discussion of LKEs and ECEs on social media platforms. The role of social media as a transnational phenomenon will be of relevance here, as it is often also used to display these varieties to a global audience – for instance in the form of YouTube videos explaining and/or presenting particular varieties (see Schneider 2016). The potential of social media data for the study of World Englishes has so far been under-harnessed as a data source in the field; however, its powerful and promising nature needs to be balanced with the ethical considerations inherent in using such data.

There is a growing importance of internet registers in World Englishes research in general (e.g., Shakir and Deuber 2019), also seen in the creation and use of the Global Web-based English (GloWbE) corpus (Davies and Fuchs 2015); most of which, however, consists of websites and blogs (both online genres with low levels of interaction) and largely neglects data from Expanding Circle Englishes and lesser-known varieties of English. Some studies point to productive and/or creative online uses of English across ECEs and LKEs: for example, English in Mongolia has become “the universal or one-size-fits-all language for the majority of Mongolian FB [Facebook] pages” (Dovchin 2017: 23), often creatively mixing the Cyrillic and Latin writing systems (Billé 2010). One may also question the extent to which language or dialect death is averted or at least delayed by the presence of such LKEs online.


Click here for the book of abstracts.


10:15 – 10:30 Jakob Leimgruber, Sven Leuckert, Sofia Rüdiger

Workshop opening

10:30 – 11:00 Guyanne Wilson

Curry chicken or chicken curry? Language ideologies and identities in internet memes from Trinidadian Facebook users

11:00 – 11:30 Susanne Mohr

Tourism discourse online – A case study of hashtags in Instagram posts from Zanzibar

11:30 – 12:00 Mirka Honkanen

Nigerian Pidgin and the authentication of Nigerian migrant identities

12:00 – 1:30 Break
1:30 – 2:00 Frederic Zähres

Emerging norms? Namibian English(es) on YouTube

2:00 – 2:30 Axel Bohmann

“Jamaica is not the only Jamaica” – Language and place on YouTube

2:30 – 3:00 Sven Leuckert & Sofia Rüdiger

Asian varieties of English on YouTube

3:00 – 3:30 Break
3:30 – 4:00 Edgar Schneider