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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    The Usefulness of Englishes

    ...by popular demand (and to avoid any similarity to posts of the highly unpopular ENT), my comment: I find the rise of English variants an interesting topic of discussion...my own experience ranges from Jamaican patois to a heavily Hindi-ized form of the language...

    Brits and Americans No Longer Own English


    The language doesn’t belong to the Anglosphere any more.
    By Leonid Bershidsky (Bloomberg)

    The Brexit circus and the unpopularity of President Donald Trump are causing apprehension about the future of the
    Anglosphere, the cultural, intellectual and political influence of the core English-speaking nations: Britain and the U.S.


    As a non-native English speaker who works in the Anglosphere, though, I’m not worried about that; Americans and Brits are merely facing increasing competition from within their accustomed domain rather than from without.

    The English language, which has just 379 million native speakers, is spoken at a useful level by some 1.7 billion people, according to the British Council. That has long ensured that U.S. and U.K. voices are heard louder than any others.

    There is no indication that the language’s popularity is declining despite the recent damage to the two countries’ soft power. Last year, the British Council forecast that the number of potential learners in Europe will decline by 8.8 percent, or some 15.3 million, between 2015 and 2025. Brexit has nothing to do with this: the expansion of English teaching at schools is expected to cut demand for the organization’s courses. Overall, the market for English in education is predicted to grow by 17 percent a year to reach $22 billion in 2024. That, in large part, is thanks to insatiable demand in Asia.

    I learned it in the Soviet Union. I have to admit I did it because of British and U.S. soft power: I wanted to understand rock song lyrics, watch Hollywood movies in the original, and read books that weren’t available in translation. But that wasn’t the reason high-quality instruction was available to me in Moscow in the 1980s: English was the adversary’s mother tongue. Russian President Vladimir Putin is no fan of the U.S. or the U.K., but he has learned their language well enough to speak to other foreign leaders without a translator.

    It’s impossible to avoid:
    54 percent of all websites are in it. The next most widespread language is Russian, with 6 percent. The most popular translation requests on Google all involve English. The global academic community speaks it, and not just because U.S. and U.K. universities are important: If they all closed tomorrow, scholars would still need a common tongue, and they aren’t going to vote to adopt another one.


    Nor will the global political community. The European Union is a case in point: After Brexit, English could lose the status as one of the bloc’s working languages because no remaining members use it officially. Yet the legal departments of all the EU governing bodies have agreed that it can retain its status on the rather thin argument that it’s used in Irish and Maltese law. It’s also the lingua franca for all the Eastern European officials who have never learned French or German. Even after Brexit, it will
    share with German the status of the most widely spoken language in the EU – that is, as long as one takes into account non-native speakers.


    The EU’s post-Brexit experiment will be important for the Anglosphere’s future. A large bureaucracy and an entire political establishment will be setting the agenda in English, but without the participation of native speakers. As Marko Modiano of the University of Gavle in Sweden wrote in a recent
    paper (in English, of course): “English is presenting itself as a unique bedfellow. When using English, EU citizens will all be on the same footing, that is to say, they will be communicating in a second language, and as such, only a relatively small number of people will have an unfair advantage.”


    “Euro English,” with quirks such as the plural “informations,” the overuse of the preposition “of,” or constructs such as “we were five people at the party,” has already been described as a distinct dialect. Left without the supervision of native speakers, it may well develop further down a separate path, just as post-colonial “Englishes” have done in Asia, acquiring more phonetic and lexical peculiarities as well as their own idiomatic wealth.


    Brits can call this bad English, but, as a non-native speaker, I won’t. People don’t own the vernacular they learned to speak as toddlers; nor can countries lay any proprietary claim on their official languages. The post-Brexit EU isn’t the only case in point; even if China overtakes the U.S. in artificial intelligence, its computer scientists will still describe their work in a (somewhat peculiar) form of English, as the recent proliferation of academic papers in the field written by Chinese scholars indicates. When the U.S. quit UNESCO, the United Nations’ culture and science organization, earlier this year, English remained the lingua franca of the Paris-based organization that has long sought to push back against its dominance.


    The language has broken out of Indian linguist Braj Kachru’s popular “three-circle model,” developed in the 1980s: The Inner Circle of native English-speaking countries, the Outer Circle of former colonies, and the Expanding Circle of all other nations, where it was learned for communication with the first two circles. Now, people learn it to communicate with other non-native speakers as much as to Brits or Americans.


    This communication includes stories, ideas and customs that are not well-known in the U.S. and the U.K. and those that are rejected there, including authoritarian concepts, politically incorrect views, and harsh criticism of the Washington-led world order. Not all these conversations are meant for the eyes and ears of Americans and Brits, and not all of them require their input. But they are all taking place in the much-expanded Anglosphere, in which people with a better command of the language don’t necessarily get to moderate the discussion or set its tone.


    Native speakers still get something of an unfair advantage when it comes to that, of course. But it is no longer inextricably linked to power, hard or soft. In that respect, English is quite unlike the dollar, as dominant in financial transactions as that language is in the global conversation. We all mint our versions, and they’re all legal tender these days.
    Last edited by tomcat; 03-03-2019 at 07:08 AM.
    Majestically enthroned amid the vulgar herd

  2. #2
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    Who was that other member that always used to just post an article but offer no comment or opinion?

  3. #3
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    ...whoever he was, I owe him a vote of thanks...

  4. #4
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    ENT used to do that...

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    Interesting article; thanks TC!

    So I belong to the Outer Circle - those who belong to former colonies.

    As a non NES, I have no difficulty in understanding American accents, due to Hollywood films, TV shows and music. I used to have difficulty in understanding the British accent, but thanks to Harry Potter and friends, I find it easier now. As for the Aussie accent, to my ears Aussies have a bit of a twang, but as long as they don't speak too much slang then I would be able to comprehend.

    As for TD members that I've met, I didn't have difficulty in conversing with Terry57, BLD or AO. Betty's accent took a bit of getting used to, but then he also spoke a tad fast. That plus the Brit accent - it added to the difficulty. (sorry Bets!)

    Cheers all and Happy Sunday!

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    I speak English

  7. #7
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YourDaddy View Post
    I speak English
    ...that has yet to be demonstrated...

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    The European market will shrink, largely due to falling birth rates. The Asian market will grow due to increased mobility, especially of Chinese, Korean and, to a lesser extent, Japanese..
    The Trump/Brexit effect, if there is one, will be a mere blip in history.
    Access to 5* education will continue to be dominated by the English language. The growth of Chinese languages is likely to mirror that of Japanese, because economic growth will continue to expand there.
    Asian travelers will continue to shout and jostle at airports for space, until they learn some patience and adjust to the concept of single line queues.

    A fat Asian boy was punched by an Australian last night, to help his adjustment. Fucking peasants.

  9. #9
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Switch View Post
    Asian travelers will continue to shout and jostle at airports for space, until they learn some patience and adjust to the concept of single line queues.
    A fat Asian boy was punched by an Australian last night, to help his adjustment. Fucking peasants.
    ...*cough*...you've wandered a bit from the thread topic...

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    In other words the v as w phonetic problem is just gonna get worse

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by uncle junior View Post
    In other words the v as w phonetic problem is just gonna get worse
    Done.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by uncle junior View Post
    In other words the v as w phonetic problem is just gonna get worse
    Balanced out by other nationalities' w as a v phonetic problem .
    Then there's the p as an f, l as an r etc.

  13. #13
    Thailand Expat jabir's Avatar
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    I'm ok with English, no problem understanding Americans but need to strain with northerners, and mostly just nod and smile and say yes to Scots.

  14. #14
    Days Work Done! Norton's Avatar
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    In my life time I have seen English replace French as the internationally accepted language of diplomacy. Suppose was Latin at one time. Things change. Reckon Chinese at some point in future.

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    @Manny - most Filipinos don't have problems with L/R or S/T, but some have problems with P/F and B/V.

    Edit: @Norton - I strolled in the vicinity of Mall of Asia with friends earlier this week. We ate at a Korean resto which was in an area that I would describe as a "new Chinatown" here in PI/Manila. (Old Chinatown is in Binondo, where the old, established C families live.) Everywhere we looked, there were Chinese people - most were young (in their 20s or 30s). There were lots of Chinese hotpot restos. There were also lots of small Chinese-owned convenience stores.

    We went inside one for a look - most goods (even Sprites, Cokes, chocolate bars) had Chinese characters as labels, and prices were both in English/Latin alphabet as well as Chinese characters. There was also a leasing company office, with photos and descriptions of Condo units for rent or lease. Prices were written in pesos and in characters. There was also a QR code that you could scan. Now I'm sorry that I didn't take pics, since I didn't think it was impt at the time. Most of the people that we met in that area were also young Chinese - probably the occupants of the Condo units.

    Upon seeing all those C shops and people, my thought was - Oh no, we have been invaded!

    But then P. Duterte has been chummy with Xi, so it's not really a surprise. It's probably because I live in the province that's why I haven't seen too much of this new invasion. I chatted with a security guard in the area - he said that the C ppl are there due to the casinos and online gaming. If ever I go to that area again, I'll take pics.

    Maybe I need to start learning Mandarin? Hmm...
    Last edited by katie23; 03-03-2019 at 11:51 AM.

  16. #16
    Days Work Done! Norton's Avatar
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    I have acquired a sort of newscaster accent which I have been told very understandable anywhere I happen to be.

  17. #17
    Days Work Done! Norton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by katie23 View Post
    @Manny - most Filipinos don't have problems with L/R or S/T, but some have problems with P/F and B/V.
    Two pilots in the PI.
    A pair of pliers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tomcat View Post
    ...*cough*...you've wandered a bit from the thread topic...
    Not at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Switch View Post
    Not at all.
    And what does it matter because his only contribution to the thread is commentary on others' posts, not on the OP?

  20. #20
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    Here you go Manny, why do you complain when Tom has kindly provided you a subject to beat your chest about, should be offering thanks.

    English has constantly evolved both on pronunciation, spelling and new words added. I have worked in parts of India where their enunciation is more queens english than it ever was in the UK.

    In the US, and i was going to chuck out a daily moan, Mercans are pronouncing words ending "ant" as "ent" wtf is that about - so significant becomes more like signifiKENT.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomcat View Post
    Brits and Americans No Longer Own English

    The language doesn’t belong to the Anglosphere any more.
    This is not a new idea. It has been around and discussed for at least a decade that I know of. I went to a conference in 2008 where Professor Alan Maley said the same thing.

    But the truth is that nobody (no country or no group of people) owns a language. A language is dynamic and takes on a life of its own wherever it goes, so we see differences between speakers/users in different countries and even within countries. This is not just the case for English but for other languages too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NamPikToot View Post
    Here you go Manny, why do you complain
    Who's complaining? Just pointing out something that riles some people (not me, actually). Taking a harmless dig at the guy because he deserves it. He thrives on taking digs, so why not? .
    Quote Originally Posted by NamPikToot View Post
    provided you a subject to beat your chest about
    Why on earth would you think I want to beat my chest about the OP? :/
    Quote Originally Posted by NamPikToot View Post
    I have worked in parts of India where their enunciation is more queens english than it ever was in the UK.
    That explains a lot about your knowledge of the queen's English .
    Quote Originally Posted by NamPikToot View Post
    Mercans
    Glad you've learnt that "merkin" is something entirely different .
    Quote Originally Posted by NamPikToot View Post
    pronouncing words ending "ant" as "ent"
    It's called an accent, and also an instance of the schwa.

  23. #23
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    ...how would you describe your accent, Manny? Fijian sounds limiting...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maanaam View Post
    Who's complaining? Just pointing out something that riles some people (not me, actually). Taking a harmless dig at the guy because he deserves it. He thrives on taking digs, so why not? .
    Why on earth would you think I want to beat my chest about the OP? :/
    That explains a lot about your knowledge of the queen's English .
    Glad you've learnt that "merkin" is something entirely different .
    It's called an accent, and also an instance of the schwa.
    Oh my, sorry folks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NamPikToot View Post
    In the US, and i was going to chuck out a daily moan, Mercans are pronouncing words ending "ant" as "ent" wtf is that about - so significant becomes more like signifiKENT.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maanaam View Post
    It's called an accent, and also an instance of the schwa.
    If the "ent" sounds like the 'ent' in the words bent, sent, dent, lent, etc, it is not the same sound as a schwa.

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