English as a global language and the issue of international intelligibility

Tony T N HUNG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The present paper argues that, with the coming of age of English as a global language, with many new varieties taking root in different parts of the world, and with English being used more and more as a tool of communication among people who speak English as a second or foreign language, we should look at the issue of “international intelligibility” not from the viewpoint of speakers of traditional (or “old”) varieties of English, but from a truly international perspective. For purposes of teaching, the most pragmatic approach is to accept the local variety of English as a legitimate basis to build on, and to teach our learners sounds or features not found in it only where they are truly important for international intelligibility — as indicated by the functional value and frequency of the sound or feature in question, balanced against the difficulty and appropriateness of such a sound or feature for our learners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-17
Number of pages14
JournalAsian Englishes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2002

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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