‘Women should not wear pants?’ Reflections from Kenyan English speakers in a strait between American and British English
Keywords:American English, British English, Englishes, Kenyan English, TeSOL
This paper aimed at examining the lived experiences of Kenyans caught between the two main varieties of English and the communication challenges they often face. The paper aims to provide evidence for the challenges that Kenyan speakers of English have experienced as a result of the confluence between British English (BrE) and American English (AmE). The study is explorative; thus, a descriptive research design was used. The purposive sample consisted of sixty-five subjects, all of whom were well-travelled. Using interviews, they were asked about their experiences with the different varieties of English, and their responses were recorded. Autoethnography, a qualitative research method that involves introspection and cultural analysis, was also used. Thematic content analysis was used to extract the themes and group them for data analysis. The theoretical framework used is World Englishes. The results indicate that there is indeed some communication breakdown due to linguistic varieties, but the differences are largely understood by speakers of the different varieties. Attitude plays a major role in communication challenges between different English, especially among teachers. The study urges acceptance of different varieties of English so long as communication takes place. This has implications for teaching English to Kenyan and speakers of other languages to whom English is taught as a Second Language or Foreign language.
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