Tema 62A – The commonwealth. Cultural diversity. Development of linguistic varieties. Intercultural influences and manifestations. The novels of e. M. Forster, doris lessing and nadine gordimer

Tema 62A – The commonwealth. Cultural diversity. Development of linguistic varieties. Intercultural influences and manifestations. The novels of e. M. Forster, doris lessing and nadine gordimer

The commonwealth is a free association of sovereign states comprising G B and a number of its former dependencies who have chosen to maintain ties of friendship and practical cooperation   and who acknowledge the British monarch as a symbolic head of their association.

The sovereign countries of the Commonwealth are:

Reino Unido, australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Nevis, St Kitts, St Lucia, St Vincent, Tobago, Tortola, Jamaica.

Botswana Gambia, Ghana Lesotho Kenia, Namibia Nigeria Papúa-Nueva Guinea Sierra Leona Tanzania, Uganda Zambia y Zimbabwe

Bangla Desh Pakistán Sri Lanka

Chipre Malta Brunei Malaysia Singapur

The Republic of Ireland is joined to the Commonwealth by comercial reasons, but it is not a member.

The relation of all these countries with the Crown was at first a colonial one, in which the U K was the metropolis, and the other countries formed part of the British empire.

The old Commonwealth: In 1649, a civil war breaks between Charles I and parliament. The parliament army, led by Oliver Cromwell emerged victorious.

In May 1649, the Rump Parliament votes in favour of the Commonwealth.

April 1653, Cromwell dissolves the parliament, substituting them for a loyal assembly, the Berebone parliament, and for a council with an almost exclusive military character.

December 1653 The new Council approves the Instrument of Government allowing the military dictatorship of Cromwell, who takes the title of Lord Protector, (protectorate era).

1660 Charles II is restored to the throne, and the Commonwealth is finished.

The term Commonwealth of Nations was used officially again in the Imperial Conference of 1926, referring the group of communities self governed that form Great Britain and its dominions.

In 1931 the Westminster Statute is passed by the British Parliament. In this law, it is recognized the absolute equality between the British dominions and the U K, and the Commonwealth was established, a free association of sovereign states, joined by a common fidelity to the Crown, but not subjected to any relation of subordination.

In 1949, the separation of Ireland and India is accepted. India would remain a Commonwealth member. The British sovereign is transformed into the symbol of the free association of its independent members nations and, as such, the head of the Commonwealth. This last point is important, since it implies that the sovereign has not constitutional significance, and the relationship between Commonwealth members is not based on Constitutional laws, but on International Laws.


The new Commonwealth had within it common elements: Parliamentary government

Respect for the rule of law

Sympathy for federal devices

Military forces subservient to constitutional authority

Independent bureaucracy

Economies of viable size

Educational systems based in the British model

Respect for the British Crown.

However, it also had sharp elements of diversity:

differences of race and colour of language, level of economic development, relative size of members, outlook on world problems.

The greatest challenge to the Commonwealth after WWII was the assimilation of these elements of diversity.

During the 50s and 60s many of these common elements began to disappear:

A sucession of countries rejected the principle that the effective head of government should not also be the head of state. Presidential government was introduced in Pakistan, Cyprus, Ghana, Tanganyika.

In some countries, the idea of a loyal parliamentary opposition, tolerated by the party in power, and expecting some day to assume the power, didn´t take root. In some countries, political parties were formed strictly along ethnic, religious, or tribal lines, and acrimony among them made a friendly alternation of power impossible.

The massive phenomenon of massive international economic and technical assistance helped to increase the diversity in the social institutions of the Commonwealth Countries.

Technicians, professionals and students from the US, western Europe, USSR, and even communist China flowed into the Commonwealth.. Old habits of pure British inspiration were broken while new techniques were learned and more complex links were established.



Well over 90% of the population is of British origin, and bilingualism is therefore not a problem.

The only foreign languages which have exerted much influence on the distinctively Australian vocabulary are those of the aborigines and of Maori in New Zealand.

Borrowings: Corroboree (noise made by a group of people)

Billabong (branch of a river forming a backwater)

The English settlers preferred to adapt new words to design the Australian flora and fauna, and other concepts new for them:

Laughing jackass (a bird, in native kookaburra)

Outback (country remote from towns)

Ropeable (angry, applied to wild cattle which had to be ropped)

Blacktracker (a native used by the police to track down criminals and people lost in the bush)

The discovery of gold in 1850 led to new words as

Diggins (mine)

Fossick (search)

Squatter (man who occupied land to which he had no legal claim)

Some English words describing the countryside have almost passed out of use in Australia:

Field, meadow, wood, forest, brook, stream, village

On the other hand they use:

Bush, scrub, creek

Differences in idioms:

You´ll be all right You´ll be right

You´ll be in trouble You´ll be in strife

Give up give away

You wouldn´t read about it


It´s been said like Cockney.

Resembles in:

Dipthong ei——–ai (day)

Different in:


Development of plosive consonants to affricates:

Key: /ki/ /dgi/

Finally, the English of Australia offers an interesting example of the changes that take place in a language transplanted to a remote and totally different environment.


It is officially a bilingual country. About one third of the population is French speaking. The first English speaking settlers in Canada were Loyalists at the time of the war of the American Independence, who wished to continue to live in a British colony.

The great majority of canadians live within a hundred miles of the border with the United States, and by far the most important influence on Canadian speech is the English spoken in the US. This is influence is supported by radio, cinema, newspapers and commercial links.

At the same time there are packets of resistance where English is still influential. Fashionable private schools and universities encourage the use of British English. A further source of Br. English have been the two World War, in the course of which large number of Canadians spent some time in England.

Sometimes there are alternative choice between Br and Am English:

Chips serviette corpse

French fries napkin grove

In addition, there are some peculiarly Canadian words:

Blue Nose (Nova Scotia)

Creditiste (member of the Social Credit party)

Digby chicken (smoke-cured herring)

Innuit (Eskimo)

Mukluk (eskimo boot)

Salt-chuck (ocean)

Skookum (powerful, brave)


Often called the most British of the dominions, and in spite of the distance from Great Britain, the linguistic divergence has not been great.

It has been shown more resistance than Australia to the influence of American English, although some usages as “sick”, in the sense of ill, are common.

It has also shown resistance to Australian influences, and some similarities between the languages, are due to parallel developments, rather than to influential relationships.

Not many Maori words have passed into the vocabulary of New Zealand English:

Whare (hut)


Kit (basket)

Hoot (money)


Words that British English are stressed on the second or third syllable are in NZ on the first: magazine, mankind.

Monday, tuesday….. Br /di/ NZ /dei/


It is a convenient Lingua Franca for communication among the many linguistic groups in India and Pakistan, but only a small proportion of the population speak English.

The official language according to the constitution is Hindi. As most Indians and Pakistanis who speak English use it as a second language, they normally aim at speaking the British variety of English without feeling pride in developing a distinctively local form of the language.

Indian English tends to be bookish and not sufficiently in touch with the living English of today. This characteristic is a natural result of the methods of teaching. The number of English teachers, is inadequate in comparison with the huge population of India (recently over 1000 millions). Most English speaking Indians have been taught English by other Indians, the reference for the teaching process on authorized English books. Indians find difficult to distinguish between one level of English and other, between poetic, archaic, literary, colloquial or slang. The result is what is known as Babu English.


In some varieties of Hindi, the groups sk, st, sp at the beginning of words doesn´t exist, so words like station are pronounced by some speakers as /is/.

Some varieties don´t distinguish between /v/ and /w/.

T, d, l, r, with retroflection.

Indian English is characterized by

Greetings: bow my forehead, fail at your feet, blessed my hovel with the good dust of my feet.

Abuses: you eater of your masters, you of the evil stars, the incestuous sister sleeper

Blessings and flattery:

thou shalt write from an inkwell of your shoe and muy head

modes of address: cherisher of the poor, king of pearls, mother of my daughter.


South Africa had been occupied successively by the Bushmen, Hottentots, Bantus, Portuguese and Dutch before the English settlers came. From all these sources, specially Dutch and its South African development, Afrikaans, the English language has adquired elements.

Some words proper of this variety of English:

Bittong (strips of dried meat)

Gogga (insect)

Lekker (nice)

Other words have different usage:

Land (portions of a farm that can be used for cultivation)

Camp (fenced-in portion of a farm)

Leopard (tiger)

They use with without an object:

Can I come with?

He threw me over the hedge with a rock.


The English of South Africa has been much influenced by the pronunciation of Afrikaans and to a lesser extent by the speech of many Scottish school-masters.


Modification of certain vowels pin /pen/

Cab /k3b/

Higher pitch

Tendence to omit one or two consonants at the end of word text /tex/


Pronounce r when it is spelled

Full value to unaccented syllables.



Although their literatures are considered branches of English literature, they have developed their own characteristics, themes, styles, idioms. The development of the two literatures has been parallel, but at different rates. The beginnings of colonization of the two countries, separated by some 50 years, were also different in kind: the first settlers in Australia were convicts, their guards, and administrators. In NZ they were traders and organized colonizers.  3 periods in Australia:

1788 1880 Descriptive and documentary literature predominated in an attempt to accomodate experience of colonial life to the inherited English tradition.

1880 1940 expansion and consolidation.

1940 onward. Literary activity greatly increased, and several writers become known out of Australia. Patrick White, Randolph Stow, Hal Porter.

1930- 1960 little golden age specially in poetry. James K Baxter, Keith sinclair. Novel : Dan Davin, Sylvia Ashton Warner, David Ballantyne, Janet Frame, Errol Braithwaite, Ian Cross.


In 1867 the separate colonies of British North America joined in a federal union to form the Dominion of Canada. A growing sense of national identity preceded the federal union and was cultivated after its accomplishment. The most national-minded poet in the decade before federration was Charles Sangster. In the 2 decades after federation Charles Mair, who found themes for poetry on the new frontier and also in Canadian history, as in his verse drama Tecumseh.

In the 20th C, some able writers of prose fiction appeared. Frederick Philip Grove, Mazo de la Roche.


All the modern Indian literatures depend greatly on the ancient Indian background, the basic material in their formative periods being that of the Sanskrit epics, the Mahabharata, and Ramayana, as well as other Sanskrit texts.

There was a great mixture of languages and styles in Indian literature when Western influence began to be felt in the early 19th century.

Reformists as Ram Mohun Roy inspired their compatriots to accept westerns models, and introduce themselves to Western literary forms in English. Gradually, translation gave way to imitation, and from imitation original writing arose. It brought the appearance of authors as Asadullah Khan Ghalib. Realism displaced the conventional metaphor and hyperbole, and social and psychologic treatment of literary themes multiplied. This trend culminated in the genius of Rabindranath Tagore.

It was in the 30s when indians began to contribute to the novel in English, with names as RK Narayan, Raja Rao, and Mulk Raj Anand. Other three great figures continuing this work are Rudyard Kipling and E M Forster.


The emergence of a strong and independent English literature from black Africa has been one of the most exciting post WW2 cultural developments.

In South Africa, writers are usually brought up in an environment where English is their first language, so their work has been closer in form, and content to that of Europe than that of writers from tropical Africa.

South African: Ezekiel Mphahlele, Peter Abrahams.

Nigerian: Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka.


V S Naipul. One of the most important writers in English nowadays.









+loathing for imperialism




The longest journey

Aspects of the novel

He offers a detailed critique of social and cultural world of the ½ SXX, and the values of British Empire. Concerned with individual liberty.

He fights actively against prohibition of publication of the work of Radclyffe Hall and DH Lawrence.

Aroomwithaview: contrasts love seen by English middle classes (petty, cold hearted, unemotional) against passionate Italian vitality.

Howard´send: contrasts between two families, Wilcoxes, and Schlegels (material values – cultural, spiritual values). They struggle for a house (England). Structural and psychological complexity.

Apassagetoindia: Deals with the conflict between cultures from the personal relation between cultures from the personal relation between an English traveller and an Indian woman, in the times of the English government in the country.




Early part of life in S Africa, where involved in comunist party and black politics.

1949 moves to London. Still living there.


Childrenof violence series

Thegolden notebook

Canopus in argos series

The good terrorist

The 5th child


Representation of political questions from a woman´s P.of. view.

She has developed this topic in a number of literary genres and novels à

The grass is singing: interrelation between racial and sexual politics

Children of violence series: after moving to London, his vision turns more epic and mystic

The golden notebook: expression of feminist politics, where his main topic achieves its most perfect expression.

Canopus in Argos. Science Fiction

The good terrorist: critique of the naivity and exploitation in political activism. Realism.

The 5th child: Fantastic counterpart.




Brought up in a little mining town outside Johanesburg

Mother very carefully with his weak health, long stays at home, setting to write aged 9.

By 20, stories published in local magazines

By 30 the NYer accepts story, publishing her ever since, always attacking apartheid

Maintopic attack against apartheid, and its consequences both in white and black communities.

The lying days

Occasion for loving

A guest of honour


the conservationist

the burguer´s daughter

july´s people

Liberal phase à1970

Looks sharply at

The master servant relationships characteristic of South African life.

Spiritually and sexually claustrophobic existence of white Safrica due to the racial paranoias of colonialism

Political responsibilities of privileged South Africans.

Radical phase 1970à

Explicit political critique, concerned with politicals of revolution.