Varieties of English

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According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, varieties of English include British English (including Irish English), American English and Canadian English, Australian/New Zealand English (listed together by EB), India-Pakistan English (also listed together), and African English (especially as spoken in South Africa).[1]

As a natural language[edit]

Major varieties of spoken English[edit]

English is spoken by large numbers of people in Africa, North America, the British Isles, Australia and New Zealand, and parts of Asia.

One million or more native speakers[edit]

Major English speaking countries/regions with one million native speakers or more include (data from Ethnologue[2] unless noted):

Millions of non-native speakers[edit]

Many countries have millions of non-native English speakers. International English is sometimes considered a distinct variation of English. The countries with substantial numbers of English speakers and their own varieties of English are listed below.


English is the first language of 230,000 people in India. English has 125 million speakers in India, more than any other language except Hindi.[6]


Nigeria was the third- or fourth-place English speaking country worldwide in 2000, behind the U.S., the U.K. and ahead of India if c. 30 million speakers of Nigerian Pidgin English are counted.[7][8]

As of 2010, there were 83 million speakers of English in Nigeria, with growth of approximately 6% per year. English is an official national language, and the de facto national language for business, government and education.[9]


Other countries with 50 million or more speakers of English include Pakistan (Pakistani English) and the Philippines (Philippine English).

Pidgins and creoles[edit]

Pidgins and creoles exist which are based on, or incorporate, English, including Chinook Jargon (a mostly extinct trade language), American Indian Pidgin English, and Manglish (Malaysian English-Malay-Chinese-Tamil).

A pan-Asian English variation called Globalese has been described.[10]

As a constructed language[edit]

Several constructed languages exist based on English, which have never been adopted as a vernacular. These constructed languages include Basic English, E-Prime, Globish, Newspeak, Pure Saxon English,[11]:302 Special English, Simplified English, Synthetic English,[11]:309 Merican,[11]:310 and Inglish.[11]:313 Language scholars have stated that constructed languages are "no longer of practical use" with English as a de facto global language.[12]

Technical and occupational[edit]

English has been adopted in many fields of international endeavor. Specialized subsets of English are used in certain fields.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brittanica 1974.
  2. ^ English at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. ^ Bolton 2002, p. 2.
  5. ^ Crystal 2003, p. 109.
  6. ^ "Indiaspeak: English is our 2nd language", The Times of India, Mar 14, 2010 
  7. ^ Barbara Wallraff (November 2000), "What Global Language?", The Atlantic, retrieved 2015-10-22 
  8. ^ Ethnologue 2009
  9. ^ Robert Pinon, Jon Haydon (2010), The Benefits of the English Language for Individuals and Societies: Quantitative Indicators from Cameroon, Nigeria, Rwanda, Bangladesh and Pakistan (PDF), Euromonitor International 
  10. ^ Nunan 2012, p. 186.
  11. ^ a b c d Okrent 2010.
  12. ^ Fischer 2004, p. 181 "[T]he goal [of constructed languages] is no longer of practical use... Living languages are of far greater influence in the world ... world languages are emerging naturally for the first time in history. Indeed, the English language -- by historical circumstance, not by design -- presently counts more second-language speakers than any other tongue on Earth and numbers are growing."
  13. ^ Sharkey, Joe (2012-05-21), "English Skills a Concern as Global Aviation Grows", The New York Times, retrieved 2015-10-22 
  14. ^ Millward, David (2008-03-05), "English to become compulsory for pilots", The Telegraph, retrieved 2015-10-22 
  15. ^ Hu, Claire (2014-02-26), Language of air travel: How traffic control keeps you safe, CNN, retrieved 2015-10-22 


External links[edit]