07 October 2017

majority, would

I am currently reading written assignments by my students, and I regularly come across features of their writing such as the following:

  • 'majority' with no preceding article: 'Majority of the participants are Malays.' (In my language, I would include 'a' or 'the' before 'majority'.)
  • 'would' to indicate generalised future: 'The description would be based on acoustic analysis.' (For me, 'would' indicates something hypothetical, so no acoustic analysis was actually done. I would have to use 'will' in this sentence.)

Given that these features of writing seem to be normal in Brunei English, should I leave them? Or should I correct them?

I tend to correct them, on the basis that my students need to develop standard usage for their future careers. But I acknowledge that this is inconsistent with a World Englishes perspective, in which we accept regional variation.

My own approach is that I tolerate, even celebrate, variation in pronunciation, but written English should conform to international standards. But I am not sure that this viewpoint is really tenable. I suspect that use of 'would' as a variant of 'will' is becoming the norm throughout the world, and it is only a few traditionalists like me who insist that 'would' indicates something hypothetical.