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 EnglishResources
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 islandsVIEW 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.

Submission of and access to World English words

Use the submissions form below to suggest a World English term for inclusion in the OED:

World English

  • E.g. Philippine English, Hong Kong English, Ugandan English
  • e.g. bammy, skinship, bunny hug
  • e.g. an informal social gathering, a street vendor

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.

World English editors and consultants

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.

World English blog articles

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.

Excerpt taken from’Switching gears: revising code-switching, n.’

World English teaching resources

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.

World English publications

World English webinars and events

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.




World English pronunciations

You can find information on pronunciation of different varieties of English on the OED’s pronunciation pages. The below blog article may also be of interest:

World English 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.

Research partnerships

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.

Professor Sali Tagliamonte, University of Toronto, who heads the Ontario Dialects Project

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.

Help

For further information and support, visit our help page, or contact us.