Is Non-Standard English a ‘Broken Language’ or ‘Linguistic Innovation?’ Exploring Higher Education ELF Linguistic Features in Thailand's Deep South

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Fatimah Jeharsae
Theerat Chaweewan
Yusop Boonsuk


The global prevalence of English as a lingua franca (ELF) across diverse linguacultural communities within the three circles invites an in-depth analysis of its phonological and lexicogrammatical features, especially among non-native English speakers. This qualitative study investigated these features among 30 Thai students from English and non-English programs, emphasizing natural occurrences in academic settings. Participants were directed to record audio and video during collaborative activities with peers and lecturers inside and outside the classroom. Through Conversation Analysis, findings revealed a significant divergence in the phonological and lexicogrammatical features of ELF participants compared to speakers of standard British English (BrE) and American English (AmE). Specifically, non-standard lexicogrammatical features concerning verb, noun, article, word choice, tense, and preposition emerged predominantly. Furthermore, common phonological deviations included omission of final consonant sounds, mispronunciation of the schwa sound, confusion in pronouncing the article ‘the,’ mispronunciation of words ending with ‘-ine,’ and substitution of /ʌ/ with /ɔ/. The data suggests widespread use of non-standard English norms, indicating linguistic adaptation beyond traditional boundaries in various environments. Significantly, this study contributes by highlighting how ELF participants reshape language for effective communication, prioritizing intelligibility over native-like proficiency, with insights extending beyond the Thai context, valuable for educators, linguists, and intercultural communication practitioners.

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Jeharsae, F., Chaweewan, T., & Boonsuk, Y. (2024). Is Non-Standard English a ‘Broken Language’ or ‘Linguistic Innovation?’ Exploring Higher Education ELF Linguistic Features in Thailand’s Deep South. LEARN Journal: Language Education and Acquisition Research Network, 17(1), 489–513. Retrieved from
Research Articles
Author Biographies

Fatimah Jeharsae, English Section, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Prince of Songkla University

An English lecturer at Prince of Songkla University, Pattani campus since 2017, holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English. Combining her business experience with teaching, she's a recipient of the Excellent Teacher Award (2019-2021) and passionately pursues innovative teaching, project leadership, and community engagement.

Theerat Chaweewan, Department of Foreign Languages, Faculty of Humanities, Kasetsart University

A lecturer in the Department of Foreign Languages, Kasetsart University, Thailand. His research interests are Global Englishes, English as a Lingua Franca, Translangauging and ELT.

Yusop Boonsuk, English Section, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Prince of Songkla University

An Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at Prince of Songkla University, Thailand. His research interests include Global Englishes, World Englishes, English as a Lingua Franca, Translanguaging, Transcultural Communication and Awareness, Intercultural Citizenship and ELT, English Medium Instruction, Teacher Education, and Language Beliefs, attitudes, and Identity.


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