Welcome to eWAVE

by Kortmann, Bernd & Lunkenheimer, Kerstin

WELCOME to the electronic World Atlas of Varieties of English! eWAVE was designed and compiled at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS) and the English Department of the University of Freiburg, Germany, primarily between 2008 and 2011, when it was first released. The current release (eWAVE 2.0, November 2013) is a substantially updated and extended version. eWAVE is an interactive database on morphosyntactic variation in spontaneous spoken English mapping 235 features from a dozen domains of grammar in now 50 varieties of English (traditional dialects, high-contact mother-tongue Englishes, and indigenized second-language Englishes) and 26 English-based Pidgins and Creoles in eight Anglophone world regions (Africa, Asia, Australia, British Isles, Caribbean, North America, Pacific, and the South Atlantic; see here for a list). It was compiled from descriptive materials, naturalistic corpus data, and native speaker knowledge by a team of 83 contributors, all leading experts in their fields, directed by Bernd Kortmann and Kerstin Lunkenheimer. eWAVE is unique not only in its coverage and user-friendliness, but also in being an open access resource. As such it has the potential for serving both as a teaching tool in academic teaching around the world and as an indispensable research tool for specialists in many different fields of linguistics, including creolistics, dialectology, dialect syntax, language change, language typology, sociolinguistics, second language acquisition, and the study of World Englishes and learner Englishes.

eWAVE was partly designed and entirely programmed in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig), and is also hosted by the MPI. Since eWAVE is designed as an evolving interactive tool, we are planning to have regular updates. The most recent substantial update (November 2013) introduced two new datasets (Cape Flats English and Philippine English) as well as a number of updates to existing data points (see History), a host of new examples, and substantial changes to the user interface to fit in with the architecture of the MPI-EVA’s other linguistic database projects – most notably APiCS Online (the Atlas of Pidgin and Creole Language Structures Online; Michaelis, Maurer, Haspelmath and Huber, eds. 2013).

In January 2013 De Gruyter Mouton published in print the Mouton World Atlas of Variation of English, which offers perspectivizing accounts of the data sets in eWAVE as well as large-scale comparisons and synopses across the individual variety types and Anglophone world regions. Read more here.

What eWAVE can do for you

eWAVE facilitates the investigation of global-scale patterns of morphosyntactic variation in English and helps answering questions like the following:

  • Which features are most/least widespread across varieties of English worldwide?
  • How many varieties of English worldwide share feature X?
  • Is feature X restricted to or characteristic of a particular part of the English-speaking world?
  • Is feature X restricted to or characteristic of a particular group of varieties?
  • Does variety A have feature X?
  • In which area of grammar does variety A differ most from variety B?
The information required to answer questions of this kind can be found in the central parts of eWAVE: the varieties index, the features index, and the individual variety and feature profiles. These combine searchable catalogues of varieties and of morphosyntactic features with interactive maps, and allow you to explore in detail the distribution of features within and across varieties of English and English-based Pidgins and Creoles worldwide. Ultimately, the information provided in eWAVE can also be used for the investigation of more general questions, such as the following: Which features generally are characteristic of a particular variety type (e.g. L2 varieties)? In which domain of grammar is there most/least heterogeneity/homogeneity among varieties of English worldwide? Are English-based pidgins and creoles as a group significantly different from other varieties in terms of morphosyntax?

How to cite eWAVE

eWAVE in general can be referred to in the following way:

Kortmann, Bernd & Lunkenheimer, Kerstin (eds.) 2013.
The Electronic World Atlas of Varieties of English.
Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
(Available online at http://ewave-atlas.org, Accessed on 2016-08-30.)