A Commentary on the book World Englishes by Jennifer Jenkins(2003)



Author: Summaya Elhussain
Department :English Language Institute
This article was submitted as part of a module in Sociolinguistics and as an academic requirement to gain a Post-graduate Diploma in TESOL at Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK in May 2010



Chinua Achebe in Jenkins, J (2003) argues that ‘the price a world language must be prepared to pay is submission to many different types of use’. How far do you agree in terms of both literary and non-literary use of English language?


I say, the way Achebe approaches the use of English as the world language is unique. Such an approach is enriching for both English, as a tool used to communicate a certain message or content and the message communicated through it as well.  The language, here English, yields its linguistic tools e.g. vocabulary, to the content of the message communicated to be used in whichever way suitable for it, and the content of the message give the language meaning , knowledge, understanding, thinking, feelings, power, emotions, idea, imagination …etc.


In African literary writing, English is used to communicate elements of the African experience, culture, social structure and thinking that are, entirely irrelevant to the experience and thinking of the West, where English is originated. Achebe says  “I feel that the English language will be able to carry my African weight”  ( Jenkins, 2003: 172). The African weight that Achebe talks about is represented in the tribal mask dancing, tribal rituals, circumcision of the teenage boys, colonialism, hunting dance, ritual songs for the rain to come, harvest dancing, fear from the unknown, belief in superstitions, eating bush meat, cover the body with oil from the tribe magician to keep evil spirits away …etc. English has, successfully, represented, described and detailed the African Africanity in the full sense of the term, through writers like Achebe, Ngugi, Camarla Lay, Chimimanda Adichie, Soyinka ….etc.


English is also a formal language to political systems in some parts of the world, which are characterized by dictatorship, oppression of nations and depriving people of their civil rights and a clear example in today’s world is Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe. This comes as a total contrast what happens in the Western world, where English is at home land and where concepts and practices of democracy, social justices, respect for people’s differences and civil rights, open-mindedness, freedom of speech…ect prevail.


As the language for international communication, business, science and technology and advances in them, English is, widely, used to talk and write about education, researches, conferences, international business, advances in medicine, modern global concepts …ect.


 English is also used internationally as a medium of instruction in almost every educational and academic institution all over the world by teachers and lecturers. It is also used in academic writings, books, journals, papers or researches.


I have given only a few examples of the usage of English as the international language. However, more future research and reading in this vital topic will expand such a short essay/






Jenkins, J (2003)    World Englishes    Routledge Talor& Francis Group London and New York




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