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Why So Much Variety in English?

Two girls in front of a map of the world. Photo.

Based on the resource Why So Much Variety in English?

After reading the text "Why So Much Variety in English", try these tasks.


  1. Why is there a difference between the varieties of English spoken in the north and the south of England?
  2. Explain the term “substrate language”? Give examples.
  3. Why is a local accent important for the inhabitants in a particular area?
  4. Which peoples contributed to the language in the British Isles? Make a timeline.
  5. Describe the difference between the accents in New England, Southern USA and General American. What determined their peculiarities?
  6. What is the difference between the African English used in Jamaica and that used in Nigeria?
  7. Which dialect is the basis for Australian English? Why?

Word Origin


English has developed and changed through contact with other languages and cultures and today there are many different varieties. How do you see English in the future? Do you think the varieties will merge and become one global English language or will there always be separate varieties, accents and dialects and perhaps even more than there are today? Make a list of arguments for your point of view and then sit in small groups and present your arguments. Points to consider: international contact, social identity, substrate languages, pidgins and creoles, etc.

Last updated 05/13/2018
Written by: Anne Scott Hagen

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