Braj Kachru

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Braj Kachru
Born Braj Bihari Kachru
15 May 1931
Srinagar, Kashmir
Occupation author, journalist, linguist
Language English, Kashmiri
Ethnicity Kashmiri Pandit origin
Notable works The Alchemy of English (1986), Models of non-native Englishes
Notable awards Duke of Edinburgh Award (1987)
Spouse Yamuna Kachru
Children Shamit Kachru

Braj Kachru (born 1932 in Srinagar, Kashmir, India) is Jubilee Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.[1] He coined the term World English and has also published studies on Kashmiri.


Braj Bihari was born on 15 May 1931 in Srinagar, Kashmir into a Kashmiri Pandit (Brahmin) family. His father, Pandit Damodar Das Kachru was an educator. His mother, Sati, died when he was five years old. Braj's father was also known as Lala Sahab and was a friend of Kashmiri poet and writer Zinda Kaul masterji. Lala saheb and his educator and teacher colleagues had discussions on politics, literature and philosophy at his house. During their visits, Braj had the opportunity to interact with masterji and his father's other teacher colleagues.[2]

His wife is fellow linguist Yamuna Kachru. Their son, Shamit Kachru, is a string theorist and professor at Stanford University.[3]


Kachru has initiated, shaped and defined the field of World Englishes. He has researched in the fields of World Englishes and Kashmiri language and has published several books and research papers related to the field.[4]

Scholar and educationist[edit]

At the University of Illinois, Braj headed the Department of Linguistics (1968–79), directed the Division of English as an International Language (1985–91), and was director of the Center for Advanced Study (June 1996 – January 2000). At the Linguistic Institute of the Linguistic Society of America, he was appointed director in 1978. He was president of American Association of Applied Linguistics (1984). He was named Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Illinois in 1992. In 1998, he became the Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund Visiting Professor at Hong Kong University. He went on to become the president of the International Association for World Englishes (1997–99), and eventually the Honorary Fellow of the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, (now English and Foreign Languages University) in Hyderabad, India, in 2001.[4]

Writer and author[edit]

Kachru has authored and edited over 25 books and more than 100 research papers, reviews and review articles.He has been on the editorial board of journals such as Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural development,International Journal of the Sociology of Languages,Asian Englishes and Linguistics and the Human Sciences.[4] Along with authoring the prize-winning The Alchemy of English: The Spread, Functions and Models of Non-Native Englishes, Kachru is also the associate editor for Contributor to the Cambridge History of the English Language and the acclaimed The Oxford Companion to the English Language.[5]

The circles of English[edit]

See also: World Englishes

To better understand the use of English in different countries, Kachru conceived the idea of three concentric circles of the language.[6]

The inner circle represents the traditional bases of English: the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, anglophone Canada, and some of the Caribbean territories. The total number of English speakers in the inner circle is as high as 380 million, of whom some 120 million are outside the United States.

Next comes the outer circle, which includes countries where English is not the native tongue, but is important for historical reasons and plays a part in the nation's institutions, either as an official language or otherwise. This circle includes India, Nigeria, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, Tanzania, Kenya, non-Anglophone South Africa and Canada, etc. The total number of English speakers in the outer circle is estimated to range from 150 million to 300 million.

Finally, the expanding circle encompasses those countries where English plays no historical or governmental role, but where it is nevertheless widely used as a foreign language or lingua franca. This includes much of the rest of the world's population: China, Russia, Japan, most of Europe, Korea, Egypt, Indonesia, etc. The total in this expanding circle is the most difficult to estimate, especially because English may be employed for specific, limited purposes, usually business English. The estimates of these users range from 100 million to one billion.

The inner circle (UK, US,etc.) is 'norm-providing'. That means that English language norms are developed in these countries – English is the first language there. The outer circle (mainly New Commonwealth countries) is 'norm-developing'. The expanding circle (much of the rest of the world) is 'norm-dependent', because it relies on the standards set by native speakers in the inner circle.


  • The alchemy of English: the spread, functions, and models of non-native Englishes, University of Illinois Press, 1990 ISBN 0-252-06172-1
  • World Englishes: critical concepts in linguistics, Volume 4, Publisher: Taylor & Francis, 2006, ISBN 0-415-31509-3


  1. ^ "Illinois Linguistics". Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  2. ^ "Braj B Kachru: A Biographical Sketch". Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  3. ^ " Braj Kachru and Yamuna Kachru". 
  4. ^ a b c "Braj Kachru: Emiratus Professor of Linguistics". CAS (Centre of Advanced Studies, Illinois). Retrieved 12 August 2012. 
  5. ^ "Writers and Columnists: Braj B Kachru". Retrieved 12 August 2012. 
  6. ^ Bhatt (2001). "World Englishes". Annual Review of Anthropology (Annual Reviews) 30 (1): 527–550. doi:10.1146/annurev.anthro.30.1.527. JSTOR 3069227. 

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