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1. A non-technical term for English when the language at large is contrasted with a usage, variety, dialect, or register: That's Cockney; it isn't general English.

2. A semi-technical term for a course in English, usually as a mother tongue or in an English-medium school, within a framework of general education, usually teaching listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

3. In LINGUISTICS, a range of English that includes the STANDARD but contrasts with specific accents and DIALECTS. The British phonetician John C. Wells contrasts General English (capitalized) and traditional-dialect (lower case): ‘Within General English … there are non-standard varieties in which one says I couldn't see no one and Peter done it rather than the standard I couldn't see anyone and Peter did it’ (Accents of English, volume 1, 1982).

4. Also English for General Purposes. A term in language teaching for a broadly based, usually long-term EFL or ESL course, in contrast to English for Specific Purposes (Business English, English for Medical Purposes, etc.). Compare STANDARD ENGLISH.