> a consensus emerged that English has become the international lingua
> franca of Europe, and is no longer "owned" by native speakers, it is
> common property of the European (and international) community.
> So, the International English of a Polish speaker at this conference
> should have equal "status" to the English used by native speakers.
> Maybe there is scope for a European Corpus of English parallel to the
> British National Corpus, where an object of study might be not "what are
> the deficiencies of learner Engish" but "what are the regional/national
> variations in English as written/spoken across Europe".
I'm not sure I quite understand what is meant by the notion of according a "status" to particular linguistic varieties, in the context of an academic conference. But in general, surely, the native speaker variety of a language is in some sense the correct one, and thereby automatically has a different status from that of other varieties. Otherwise what yardstick, in the descriptive tradition, do we have for judging what is well-formed and what is not? Anything is permissible in International English, it seems: we don't know the constraints (if indeed there are any) on the types of departure from the standard form a non-native speaker might make, and no corpus could ever be sufficiently representative to tell us. In natively spoken English, well-formedness can be tested by intuition in the last resort; in the case of International English, no intuitive response is available.
Perhaps we could say that International English has the status of a market language or pidgin: it's partly a subset of a dominant language, with contributions from other languages; it is not spoken natively; and its speakers cannot bring to bear the expressive powers commonly available to them in their native languages.
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