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Language Arts & Disciplines General

Global Mother Tongue

The Eight Flavours of English

by (author) Howard Richler

Vehicule Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2006
General, Vocabulary, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2006
    List Price

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"The price a world language must be prepared to pay is submission to many different kinds of use."

--Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe

For centuries, the English language has been raiding other languages for words. It has accumulated the largest vocabulary in the world, with only 30% of its words deriving from the original Anglo-Saxon word stock. English, in all of its unique forms and permutations, is spoken by 1.6 billion people in the world--almost a third of the planet's population. Global Mother Tongue celebrates the truly international flavour of this global language.

In Global Mother Tongue, Howard Richler entertains us with his exploration of English--a growth industry among world languages. He looks at the myriad factors that are changing the language and the unique forms of English that have developed the world over.

Zombie, squash, billabong, cairn, multiculturalism, dreadlocks, adobo, tiffin.

Richler envisions English as coming in eight flavours--African, American, Australian/New Zealand, British, Canadian, Caribbean, East Asian, and South Asian--each of which he further subdivides. For example, East Asian incorporates Hong Kong English, Malaysian English, Philippines English, and Singapore English. It is the author's view that these new "Englishes" are altering the landscape of the language, and that English literature would be greatly impoverished without them.

About the author

Howard Richler is a long-time logophile who has served as a language columnist for several newspapers and magazines. He is the author of seven previous books on language, including The Dead Sea Scroll Palindromes (1995), Take My Words:A Wordaholic’s Guide to the English Language (1996), A Bawdy Language: How a Second-Rate Language Slept its Way to the Top (1999), Global Mother Tongue: The Eight Flavours of English (2006), Can I Have a Word with You (2007), Strange Bedfellows: The Private Lives of Words (2010), How Happy Became Homosexual: And Other Mysterious Semantic Shifts (2013), and most recently, Wordplay: Arranged and Deranged Wit. Richler resides in Montreal with his partner Carol, where he struggles to be fluent not only in French but in the many flavours of the English language.You can check out his language musings and daily word puzzles on Facebook at and on Twitter @howardrichler, or visit his wordnerd blog at

Howard Richler's profile page

Other titles by Howard Richler