It’s lucky that I speak English.

I’m planning to take another German class this summer, and a good thing too. I’ve been studying on my own, and while I’ve made progress with reading and vocabulary, I still barely understand German when spoken to me. Of course this isn’t surprising, since I can read slowly, look up words, and re-read things to my heart’s content; while in conversation I have to interpret sounds that exist only for a split-second. Frustrating!

So I was happy to be reminded that while my German skills are still pretty lame, it’s lucky that I speak English. English has become the language of global connection thanks to British colonization, Hollywood blockbusters, American tech corporations, and the internet. I’ve just been reading a wonderful excerpt of the book Globish by Robert McCrum in the Guardian, which mentions that

The Sunday Times commented that “to be born an English-speaker is to win one of the top prizes in life’s lottery. And this can be said without a hint of triumphalism, sexism, or racism, without annoying anybody much except the French.”

Lucky me!

However, Globish not just an amusing title for a book about global English, but the word for a simplified version of English used as a common language around the world.Β  There are varieties of English like Konglish (English in South Korea) and Manglish (Malay and English), and universal internet words like “pwned”.Β  But people with no common mother tongue are increasingly using Globish to understand each other, and the term is becoming more recognized. The viral nature of the worldwide adoption of English is interesting and McCrum makes it fascinating in Globish.

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10 thoughts on “It’s lucky that I speak English.”

  1. @zuritopia: However, Globish not just an amusing title for a book about global English, but the word for a simplified version of English used as a common language around the world.

    ‘Globish’ is one term for the simplified English that is used for international communication. Other practitioners use terms such as ‘global English’, ‘international English’, ‘internationalised English’, and ‘worldwide English’.

    1. Good to know. I’m finding this so interesting that I want to learn more. Knowing the alternate terms will help. Thanks!

      1. Some versions of internationalised English are as follows:
        * Basic Global English from Joachim Grzega (http://www.basicglobalenglish.com).
        * EasyEnglish from Wycliffe Associates (http://www.easyenglish.info/about-us/articles/communicator.htm).
        * Special English from Voice of America (http://www.voanews.com/specialenglish/about_special_english.cfm).

        For some criticisms of Globish, see http://www.techscribe.co.uk/ta/globish-the-world-over.htm.

        The best guidelines that I have seen for writing internationalised English are in ‘The Global English style guide: writing clear, translatable documentation for a global market’ by John R Kohl, 2008. For a review of Kohl’s book, see http://www.techscribe.co.uk/ta/global-english-style-guide.htm.

  2. Fascinating! I spend so much time feeling handicapped by being an English speaker (with only partial ability in the local language) that I forget how big an advantage it can be. I’ll have to check out Globish.

    1. I know what you mean, I focus on my language handicap too. So it was nice to be reminded that I’m actually pretty lucky.

  3. I’ve just read your posts on language, and thanks so much for sharing your tips. I’m newly arrived, and I dread going to the grocery store without my Swiss husband :-X Learning German is my top priority at the moment!

    1. Thanks Caitie. I know the feeling, so I’m glad my posts help. I’m off to German class myself today : )

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