Saturday, March 12, 2005

web pro news

I'm not a Pro, but I like the news:

The Globalization Of English.
(By Neville Hobson )

Newsweek has an excellent feature article in the 7 March issue (this week) of its international edition on how the English language is evolving and changing the way we communicate. The article says "non-native English-speakers" worldwide now outnumber native ones 3 to 1. In Asia alone, Newsweek says, the number of English users has topped 350 million - roughly the combined populations of the United States, the UK and Canada.
There are more Chinese children studying English - about 100 million - than there are Britons (that's nearly twice as many).
What's especially interesting about Newsweek's article is that it analyses the different ways in which English as a means of communication is evolving, developing into literally separate languages, yet which are still understandable by those who speak any version of English.

Choice excerpt:
"The new English-speakers aren't just passively absorbing the language-they're shaping it. New Englishes are mushrooming the globe over, ranging from "Englog," the Tagalog-infused English spoken in the Philippines, to "Japlish," the cryptic English poetry beloved of Japanese copywriters ("Your health and loveliness is our best wish," reads a candy wrapper. "Give us a chance to realize it"), to "Hinglish," the mix of Hindi and English that now crops up everywhere from fast-food ads to South Asian college campuses. "Hungry kya?" ("Are you hungry?"), queried a recent Indian ad for Domino's pizza. [...]"

All languages are works in progress. But English's globalization, unprecedented in the history of languages, will revolutionize it in ways we can only begin to imagine. In the future, suggests [English-language expert David Crystal], there could be a tri-English world, one in which you could speak a local English-based dialect at home, a national variety at work or school, and international Standard English to talk to foreigners. With native speakers a shrinking minority of the world's Anglophones, there's a growing sense that students should stop trying to emulate Brighton or Boston English, and embrace their own local versions. Researchers are starting to study non-native speakers' "mistakes" - "She look very sad," for example - as structured grammars. In a generation's time, teachers might no longer be correcting students for saying "a book who" or "a person which."


Technology also plays a huge role in English's global triumph. Eighty percent of the electronically stored information in the world is in English; 66 percent of the world's scientists read in it, according to the British Council. "It's very important to learn English because [computer] books are only in English," says Umberto Duirte, an Uruguayan IT student learning English in London. New technologies are helping people pick up the language, too: Chinese and Japanese students can get English-usage tips on their mobile phones. English-language teachers point to the rise of Microsoft English, where computer users are drafting letters advised by the Windows spell check and pop-up style guides.
(Clarity point: I added all the links in the italicised text above; none are in the original Newsweek text. Hobson)

This lengthy article is well worth reading for a keen insight into how much the English language is still evolving and how much you have to lose by not recognizing this reality. It's also a great reminder to communicators - especially those who work in organizations doing business internationally - that when communicating in English, it's becoming more likely, if not probable, that a significant and increasing proportion of your audience will speak a different English than you do. People who no longer can patronizingly be described as "non-native English speakers" - they are creating their own versions of English.

whole article here [klik]


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