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English - the global language?

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As simplified English dialects such as Globish become known in international arenas, is English truly the lingua franca of the world? Native and non-native English speakers, share your learning experiences and insights about speaking English around the globe!

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      02.07.2010 13:23
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      Can't see it being overtaken by another language just yet

      Without wishing to brag, I speak (or more correctly 'get by') in three languages other than my native English. They are German (fairly fluent), French (bit rusty) and Italian (very much of the pigeon variety). However, I'm able to make myself understood in all three of these languages despite my grammar being horrendous at times.

      The big problem with an English person speaking in foreign tongues is that most of the non-English people we come into contact with, speak much better English than we do their language and they are always keen to demonstrate this.

      For many years I worked for the Siemens group and had frequent contact with Germany by telephone. As a consequence, we were given German lessons by the company, despite the official company language being English, and over time I became quite proficient. The problem was, I'd get on the phone to Germany and no sooner say, "Guten Tag" than the person on the other end would break out into faultless English.

      With all foreign languages it really is a case of use it or lose it and so eventually I came to an agreement with most of the people I spoke with on a regular basis that I would speak to them in German and they would reply in English, and correct my German into the bargain. This system worked very well for all of us.

      I suspect that one of the main reasons why English continues to be so widely spoken, apart from the fact that we ruled and imposed its use on half the known world at one time, is that it's very easy to learn the basics of the language in a relatively short space of time. Because it's a fairly new language it's been possible to remove many of the extraneous rules and regulations from the grammar which make other languages so much more difficult to learn. For instance in English, we've reduced the number of definite and indefinite articles by dispensing with the need to refer to objects as male, female or neuter. Native speakers of other languages (and I'm speaking of European languages in the main because I don't know anything about Asian languages at all) learn these genders from birth along with the nouns and cases, whereas to most English speakers, there seems to be no rhyme or reason for allocating the male gender to a cat or the female gender to the sun.

      Vocabulary, however, is another matter. The English language has one of the largest, if not the largest, vocabularies of all languages, but at least people learning English can communicate very much more quickly because of the simple rules of English grammar and let the vocabulary come later.

      Sentence structure, too, is often a difficulty in other older languages, especially in German. Why on earth would anyone want to wait until the end of the sentence before giving the verb. It means the listener has to remember everything that's been said previously before knowing what the heck the conversation is all about. And, as German speakers will know, the German language has some very long words and sentences!

      Previous attempts to introduce another universal language, Esperanto, seem to have failed, although I believe there are enthusiastic members of Esperanto clubs dotted around the world but somehow it just never caught on.

      Perhaps, if Britain had not been followed by another English speaking nation, America, as leaders of the world, English would have become less widely used, but because America has such global power, English has been adopted further as a universal language. In particular nowadays the official language of communication for both the airways and sea lanes is English.

      It is debateable whether English will continue to be the lingua franca of the world over the coming decades. With the rise of the far eastern economies of China and India, and the huge markets to be tapped there, I suspect that Indian and Chinese languages may become much more widely spoken by non-natives of those countries than they are at present. I know that many British schools now teach Mandarin Chinese and for some time it has been possible to take GCSEs in certain Indian/Pakistani languages such as Punjabi and Urdu.

      The problem with both the Indian and Chinese languages, however, is that they have so many different variations. Goodness knows how many dialects are spoken on the Indian sub-continent but it seems as though every region has its own language and that English is used as a second language by all as a means of universal communication.

      Chinese is, I believe, now the most widely spoken language in the world, because there are more Chinese than anybody else, but China, like India, has several forms of its language, Cantonese and Mandarin to name but two. There are also the added problems for Chinese of the subtleties of pronunciation of the language which can completely alter the meaning, and, of course, the written language. Chinese characters look very pretty but I suspect it would take the average individual a lifetime to get to grips with them.

      So, although I can see that perhaps in the next century or so there will be a decline of the western economic powers who are more than likely to lose their ascendancy in the world, I think for the foreseeable future English will remain the universal language that it is today.

      English is a living language which has survived because it changes and adapts to new situations. Think how differently we speak now to the language used in Shakespeare's time. For English to survive, I suspect it may well adopt far more Chinese and Indian words into its ever growing vocabulary and if we could travel into the future, I have the feeling the English spoken two hundred years hence will be a very different language than it is today. It may not even be called English anymore but it will still be the universal language of the world.

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        20.11.2009 13:30
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        Differences between dialacts and accents in phonology.

        In this short op I will give some brief information about the use of Phonology in language and explain the difference between eye dialect, dialect, accent and sociolect.

        Phonology is the study of the sound system of a given language and the analysis and classification of its phonemes as well as systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language.

        In linguistics, an accent is a manner of pronunciation of a language. Accents can be confused with dialects which are varieties of language differing in vocabulary, syntax, and morphology, as well as pronunciation. Dialects are usually spoken by a group united by geography or social status.

        Eye Dialect is the literary technique of using non-standard spelling to approximate a pronunciation that is actually no different from the standard pronunciation but has the effect of dialectal, foreign, or uneducated speech

        A Sociolect is a variety of language associated with a particular social group. It does not only refer to spoken dialect and inflection, but also potential myriad semantic and lexical fields, including jargon and slang. Sociolects have strong connotations of class and status, and are also used to reinforce ideas of group exclusivity,

        Because of the connotations of ethnic and historical background that accents command, they can change and influence people's opinion on others, specifically regarding components like social attractiveness, status and competence. Strong accents can also cause much confusion to non-native speakers, as well as being somewhat alienating.
        Because accents can appear group-exclusive, people frequently construe them as being confrontational, particularly when very pronounced, Also, the potential for low levels of comprehension for speakers with strong accents can lead to exclusion from performing specific tasks where verbal comprehension on the part of others is important. Things like this can be sometimes be seen as prejudiced, which can exacerbate communicational barriers further. Accents and linguistic conventions can also strengthen stereotypes, again fixing social views of particular attributes of nations, which can be positive or negative, but frequently cause hostility.

        Hope this has been enlightening for you ^_^

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