Situational Characteristics of Pakistani University Student English

Variation across Registers, Sub-registers, and Disciplines


  • Nouman Hamid PhD Scholar, Department of English, IIU, Islamabad
  • Ayaz Afsar Professor, Department of English, International Islamic University, Islamabad


In Pakistan, universities are one of the major domains where English is commonly used since medium of instruction in most of the universities in Pakistan is English. In universities, students are required to produce a variety of written and spoken texts. Previous studies of university student English investigated only spoken or only written registers and none of the previous studies compared academic English produced by university students in both spoken and written modes. In this context, the present study sought to explore situational variation in graduate students’ spoken and written academic English in Pakistani universities across four variables: registers, registers across disciplines, sub-registers, and sub-registers across disciplines. The study is based on Pakistani University Student English (PaUSE) corpus which contains 195 in-class presentations and 329 assignments produced by graduate students from four academic disciplines (botany, education, linguistics, and management sciences) pursuing graduate degrees in universities located in five major regions of Pakistan. Based on their communicative purposes, these presentations and assignments included in the PaUSE corpus were classified into six sub-registers (two spoken and four written): general presentations, research-based presentations, article reviews, literature reviews, research proposals, and research reports. Pakistani university student English was compared on situational characteristics across four variables. For this purpose, a framework was first developed, and the texts included in the PaUSE corpus were then compared for their situational characteristics across four variables. The findings reveal that there is considerable variation in the situational characteristics of Pakistani university student English across all variables. The findings of the present study make a strong case for exploring linguistic variation in Pakistani university student English that will be presented in future studies.