Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 16
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    15
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Global Unified English?

    Some of the frustrations second language learners have are the conflicts of word use between continents, countries and cultures whose native language is English. It has to be said though that the speakers from these communities are often more concerned about it than the students trying to acquire the language. This is expected. Understandable. Darwinian even.

    As an English friend pointed out, "a pair of scissors" is correct English while just "scissors" is less acceptable and a coffee cup is actually a mug, while, from my point of view, cups can be mugs and scissors need not a pair in the North American paradigm. Some will disagree.

    All too confusing for the student who wants to communicate in English for the first time. Can there be a "Global Unified English" that is comprehensive and less confusing than it is now? This is truly what it's all about. Connecting the world through communication.

    The discrepancies in vocabulary from region to region or culture to culture happen in every language. Since English is presently accepted as the global lingua franca, there is momentum toward compromise or at least awareness of different forms and vocabulary. New words are coined frequently-- some become common while others fall by the wayside. Is it possible for this same process to occur in international terms. The question remains: Is an "International English" possible or even desirable?

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Philippines
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,016
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Global Unified English?

    Language changes to reflect the needs of the society/communities using it. International English seems to me to be inevitable. There will be local variations, but I think that many of the differences will be eroded as the need for easy communication continues to grow apace.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    15
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Global Unified English?

    Yes, the more active English becomes internationally, the fewer gaps between local/regional forms and vocabulary there will be. A higher tolerance for differences (and perhaps even an interest in a broader English scope) will form the new parameters.

    In the meantime, curriculums are being written by native and non-native speakers alike. As they collaborate, the scope of English as a second language must absorb the many and different forms. I suppose, eventually, it will take on a life of its own, that is, an international English.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    1,554
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Global Unified English?

    I think an international English spoken by everyone in all situations is about as likely as everyone in Britain speaking BBC English.

    There may well be an international English for business, technology and other similar fields, but not for day-to-day use. True, anglicisms are creeping into American English and americanisms into British English, but I don't see that English will ever merge into one homogenous mass. We can't even get Geordies and Yorkshiremen to speak the same dialect, and heaven knows we've been trying ever since the BBC started broadcasting.

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Philippines
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,016
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Global Unified English?

    However, people with very strong regional forms might well find the professional horizons are more restricted in the globalised age. If people fifty miles outside your city can't understand you, will clients in Shanghai?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    15
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Global Unified English?

    When I was teaching at Berlitz in Bangkok several years ago, I had a room at the "King's Mansion" which was anything but. Expats and business travellers made up most of the tenant population, and it seems most of them also populated the large diner come rental office on the ground floor.

    One day, as I was throwing back some very thick turkish-like coffee and a greasy american breakfast, I was privy to a conversation in English between a Thai and a Korean businessman. If you haven't been to Asia, you can only imagine the difference in accents. I was truly amazed that they seemed to understand one another: there was a conversation; there were questions and fairly appropriate answers; there were comments and finally, there was an argument. They couldn't come to an agreement on the particular widget involved. Nonetheless, they shook hands (not common to either culture) and went on their merry ways. It struck me that what kept them more or less on the same page was their use of vocabulary. I couln't say whether it was British or North American, in fact, it seemed to be neither.

    So get to the point! Yes, what I think this illustrates is that the majority of people that will contribute to an international English will be those using it internationally, the majority of which will neither North American nor British be. Perhaps Indian (obviously heavy on the British) and East Asian (leaning toward the North American continent) will be communicating in the largest numbers.

    Certainly there will be no coherent international English unless there is an effort to make it so. Those involved in curriculum development could find a common space (cyber) to put it together while allowing it to evolve without obvious bias one way or another, but that may be asking too much of this jaded human community. Either way, it won't be happening in the immediate future.

    We have a young learner's flash file curriculum (What the &#@* is that?). Visit us if you like: Home

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    1,554
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Global Unified English?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    However, people with very strong regional forms might well find the professional horizons are more restricted in the globalised age. If people fifty miles outside your city can't understand you, will clients in Shanghai?
    Many people are bilingual within their own language. Just as many people would say, "Did you have a pleasant journey?" to a client but, "So you got here in once piece?" to a friend, so many people will tend to speak formal standard English in business contexts while speaking broad dialect at home. Often without realising it.

    I notice this with my wife, but in German. Because I am not a native speaker, she unconsciously moderates her accent considerably when talking to me; but put her in a room with her family members and a bewildering transformation takes place -- suddenly her accent is thick enough to insulate a house with.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    15
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Global Unified English?

    "Foreigner talk," according to linguists is a simplification of a target language for the perceived benefit of the non-native speaker. But the fact is, most of the time it's a stereotype inspired by popular culture (Tarzan?) and the native speaker's sense of insecurity. You've all seen this gaffe in the movies.

    A Native English speaker gets into a taxi in a foreign country:
    Natve Speaker: "Me go to hotel... Ho Tellll. O.K.?"
    Taxi Driver: "Do you want me to choose the hotel or does it have a name?"

    This nasty phenomenon is completely different from consciously speaking slowly, clarifying pronunciation (the case with your German wife) repeating sentences, speaking with ample volume, making eye contact, etc. These techniques are in the toolbox of the English teacher versus in the gaffe associated with inexperienced travellers.

    I would say people are infinately capable of moderating their use of language according to the situation they find themselves in. The human propensity for creativity really manifests itself most frequently through language. From children who want snacks, to lawyers defending in high profile cases, the spark of creativity usually determines the outcome.

    International English may simply be an expansion of its current usage to include the majority of forms considered acceptable around the globe. This would require "shock absorbers" in communication-- listening and interpreting versus alarm and protest. It would also require clarification requests-- "Do you mean/Does that mean...?" and a good dose of patience. It may well be the most loathsome challenge for the connoisseurs of language-- One would have to drink the Carlo Rossi alongside the Dom Perignon.

  9. #9
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Philippines
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,016
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Global Unified English?

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    Many people are bilingual within their own language. Just as many people would say, "Did you have a pleasant journey?" to a client but, "So you got here in once piece?" to a friend, so many people will tend to speak formal standard English in business contexts while speaking broad dialect at home. Often without realising it.

    I notice this with my wife, but in German. Because I am not a native speaker, she unconsciously moderates her accent considerably when talking to me; but put her in a room with her family members and a bewildering transformation takes place -- suddenly her accent is thick enough to insulate a house with.
    I agree totally with this, but if they can't code switch, then they will have reduced professional horizons. I notice that my accent changes.

  10. #10
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Philippines
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,016
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Global Unified English?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Language Works View Post
    "Foreigner talk," according to linguists is a simplification of a target language for the perceived benefit of the non-native speaker.
    And often it's a perceived simplification- I remember my brother's girlfiend shouting 'put up with' to my then girfriend from Portugal, who spoke very little English, but would ave been able to grasp 'tolerate'. I presume she thought short words were easy to understand.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Help
    By zhangjin in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 22
    Last Post: 29-Mar-2008, 19:47
  2. Seminar
    By mallikatweety in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 30-Jun-2006, 11:07
  3. Is it right?
    By Genrikh in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 03-Dec-2005, 15:59
  4. english as a global language
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 16-May-2004, 16:30

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •