Varieties of English
The OED has always included words from across the English-speaking world. What’s changed – drastically – since the first edition is the size and breadth of the English-speaking population. The British Council estimates 1.75 billion people worldwide can speak English to what it calls ‘some useful degree’.
For the past few years we have been undertaking a series of projects to improve our coverage of words and senses from those parts of the world in which English is used most prolifically and distinctively. In each of these projects we have formed partnerships with external experts from or in the region. Increasingly, terms arising in these varieties will spread internationally.Michael Proffitt, Chief Editor of the OED
These pages serve as a hub for the content and resources related to varieties of English on the OED site, and provide information on the contributions made by the dictionary’s extensive network of consultants and partner institutions across the globe.
Read this OED blog post to learn more about the history of the OED’s coverage of world varieties of English from the 1884 first fascicle to the current edition, and for more information on the dictionary’s current policies and procedures with regard to variation in English.
Varieties of English recorded in the OED
We will be adding more resources pages for each variety of English in the coming months. Where a ‘VIEW RESOURCES’ link appears, click to view a list of free-to-view words and resources relevant to your variety of English.
|Variety of English||Resources|
|African American English||COMING SOON|
|Australian English||COMING SOON|
|Bahamian English||COMING SOON|
|Barbadian English||COMING SOON|
|Bermudian English||COMING SOON|
|Canadian English||COMING SOON|
|Caribbean English||includes Bahamian English, Barbadian English, Guyanese English, Jamaican English, Trinidadian English, and varieties spoken in other Caribbean islands||VIEW RESOURCES|
|East African English||includes Kenyan English, Tanzanian English, and Ugandan English||COMING SOON|
|Ghanaian English||COMING SOON|
|Guyanese English||COMING SOON|
|Hong Kong English||COMING SOON|
|Indian English||COMING SOON|
|Irish English||COMING SOON|
|Jamaican English||COMING SOON|
|Kenyan English||COMING SOON|
|Malaysian English||COMING SOON|
|Manx English||COMING SOON|
|New Zealand English||COMING SOON|
|Nigerian English||COMING SOON|
|North American English||includes Canadian English and US English||COMING SOON|
|Philippine English||COMING SOON|
|Scottish English||COMING SOON|
|Singapore English||COMING SOON|
|South African English||COMING SOON|
|South Asian English||includes Bangladeshi English, Indian English, Pakistani English, and Sri Lankan English||COMING SOON|
|Southeast Asian English||COMING SOON|
|Tanzanian English||COMING SOON|
|Trinidadian English||COMING SOON|
|Ugandan English||COMING SOON|
|Welsh English||COMING SOON|
|West African English||includes Nigerian English and Ghanaian English||COMING SOON|
|Words of Chinese origin||COMING SOON|
|Words of Korean origin||VIEW RESOURCES|
|Words of Japanese origin||COMING SOON|
Varieties in focus
Our September 2021 update contained words from Caribbean English and words of Korean origin. View the updates below:
OED editors are currently revising and expanding the OED’s coverage of African American English, Australian English, New Zealand English, and East African English.
Our pronunciation team are also developing a model for the transcription of Indian English, which we plan to publish in 2022.
Use the submissions form below to suggest a World English term for inclusion in the OED:
If you would like to explore the varieties of English included in the OED further but do not have personal or institutional access to the OED, get in touch to request a temporary access code.
Visit the OED blog or watch the video below for insights into our work drafting dictionary entries for the many varieties of English spoken all around the world, and how social media is helping our editors to access and document shifts in language that would once have largely been out of reach.
The OED works in partnership with external experts from or in the appropriate regions to ensure that our entries for regional varieties of English draw from local knowledge and expertise and reflect the everyday realities and distinctive identities of different English-speaking communities.
Yet there is a group of people who do not view code-switching in such a negative light, and these people are linguists. Indeed, it is a linguist whom the OED records as having written the earliest known use of the term code-switching in print—Lucy Shepard Freeland, who used it in her 1951 monograph on the language of the Sierra Miwok people of California. Linguists needed to have a name for this linguistic phenomenon that can reveal so much about the inner workings of human language and cognition.
We have produced a teaching activity pack with three lessons which teachers can use to introduce World Englishes in the English language classroom with the help of the OED. This freely downloadable resource was developed by the OED in collaboration with ELT specialist and teacher trainer Ms Sophia Khan of the British Council in Singapore and linguist and lecturer Dr Hyejeong Ahn of Nanyang Technological University:
For additional teaching resources, please visit our teaching resources page.
- Salazar, D. 2021. Documenting World Englishes in the Oxford English Dictionary: Past perspectives, present developments, and future directions. In Research Developments in World Englishes. Onysko, A., ed. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 271-294.
- Ahn, H. J., Salazar, D., Khan, S. 2021. Enhancing teachers’ awareness of Global Englishes using the Oxford English Dictionary. In Language Teacher Education for Global Englishes: A Practical Resource Book. Selvi, A.F., Yazan, B. eds. Oxford: Routledge, pp. 100-107.
- Salazar, D., Deang, R. K. 2021. En santé publique, il est important d’utiliser les mots justes. Coronavirus: une conversation mondiale. France Culture.
- Salazar, D. 2018. From datus to trapos: Reading Philippine history in the OED. New Mandala.
- Salazar, D. 2017. Philippine English in the Oxford English Dictionary: Recent advancements and implications for ESL in the Philippines. Philippine ESL Journal, 19, pp. 45-59.
- Muñoz Basols, J., Salazar, D. 2016. Cross-linguistic lexical influence between English and Spanish. Spanish in Context, 13(1), pp. 80-102.
- Salazar, D. 2015. The vocabulary of non-dominant varieties of English in the Oxford English Dictionary. In Pluricentric languages: New perspectives in theory and description. Muhr, R., Marley, D., eds. Oxford: Peter Lang, pp. 73-88.
- Salazar, D. 2014. Towards improved coverage of Southeast Asian Englishes in the Oxford English Dictionary. Lexicography: Journal of Asialex, 1, pp. 95-108.
- Price, J. 2003. The recording of vocabulary from the major varieties of English in the Oxford English Dictionary. In The politics of English as a world language: new horizons in postcolonial cultural studies. Mair, C. ed. Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp. 119-137.
- Weiner, E. 1987. The New OED and World English. English Today, 3(3), pp. 31-34. (Reprinted from English World-Wide, 7, pp. 259-266).
Information about any upcoming events and webinars, as well as recording from past events, will be posted on our webinar and events page. Recent events related to World Englishes are available to view below.
Mama put in the OED: World Englishes and the Oxford English Dictionary
Dr Danica Salazar, OED World English Editor, and Mr Kingsley Ugwuanyi, one of OUP’s valued Nigerian English consultants, discussed how different varieties of World English are being included in the OED, the processes around this, and how researchers can get involved.
Watch the webinar below, and read the accompanying blog piece by Dr Danica Salazar on the OED blog: Circuit breakers, PPEs, and Veronica buckets: World Englishes and Covid-19.
Major health crises and the OED: language evolution and challenges in health communication
Language has had to adapt rapidly and repeatedly this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic – but what are the challenges faced when new medical terminology needs to be used within many varieties of English, and also with non-English speakers?
Join Dr Danica Salazar, OED World English Editor, and Richard Karl Deang, PhD candidate at the University of Virginia, for an interactive online presentation that will combine insights from medical anthropology and lexicography to address the following questions:
- New terms in current use in different parts of the world, and what social realities these words reveal
- Lessons learnt from other global health crises, and how can we use these to ensure more effective health communication?
- What considerations need to be made in crafting accurate and locally appropriate translations of Covid-19 terminology from English?
Watch the recording of this presentation here:
The questions that we were not able to address during the live presentation were passed on to the panellists and their answers are available to view here.
Covid-19 Multilingual Project
Oxford Languages, of which the OED is part, recognizes the importance of establishing a standard vocabulary around Covid-19 so that information can be communicated with clarity and precision. Oxford Languages are making these translations freely available in order to support local efforts to provide critical health advice to various communities around the world. The translations may also be of interest to those wishing to study how different languages are evolving as a result of the pandemic.
The Ontario Dialects Project
The way people may talk in small Ontario communities would slip through the cracks unless documented in a project like the ODP. The project offers the OED unique insight into the language of one of the world’s largest English-speaking nations.
The Ontario Dialects Project (ODP) has been documenting the dialects of Ontario, Canada, since 2002. The ODP’s research has identified many words of characteristic Canadian usage, such as May two-four and soaker, which have now been included in the OED.
The Richard and Jeannette Allsopp Centre for Caribbean Lexicography
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the publication of the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage, a landmark work of World English lexicography that continues to be the most authoritative historical record of the rich and colourful vocabulary of one of the world’s most diverse Anglophone regions. In the past quarter of a century, the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary have counted on the expertise of fellow lexicographers in the DCEU when researching and editing words from the Caribbean.
OED World English Editor, Danica Salazar
The Richard and Jeannette Allsopp Centre for Caribbean Lexicography is a research centre dedicated to producing and promoting dictionaries of Caribbean languages. Its honoured ancestor, Prof Richard Allsopp, the late Chief Editor of the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage, was a consultant of long standing for the OED. The Centre’s founder, Dr Jeannette Allsopp, continues to be the OED‘s consultant on Caribbean English. She has worked closely with OED editors on a recent project to revise and expand the dictionary’s coverage of words used by English speakers in the Caribbean, such as tabanca and like peas.