My priority for the next 50 years: An online cultural dictionary


One of the consequences of the global spread of English has been a notable increase in the culture-specific content of everyday conversation among fluent L2 speakers. Despite excellent competence in grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation, communicative breakdowns often occur when speakers of different English varieties fail to grasp the meaning of an utterance that one of them has taken for granted. This paper illustrates the kind of culture-specific items encountered, discusses the problems in current approaches, describes a fruitful taxonomy, and suggests how it might be implemented. Using the Internet, the lexical- cultural identities of emerging English around the world could be captured, collated, and presented as a teaching resource.

KEYWORDS: English, language, communication, Internet, culture, identity

DAVID CRYSTAL. The foremost writer, lecturer and broadcaster on the English language, with a worldwide reputation and over 100 books to his name. Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, and in 1995 was awarded an OBE for services to the English language. Author of the Encyclopedia of Language and the Encyclopedia of the English Language. Renowned for charting the development, mutation and, in many cases, decline of the world’s languages.

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