Don't Speak English, Parlez Globish


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Don't Speak English, Parlez Globish

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feb 3, 2009, 12:09 am

A couple of weeks ago, the BBC aired a piece about French losing its status as a global language and English is now the lingua franca. Of course, this is nothing new; what is new is the emergence of Globish, a term coined by a French businessman by the name of Jean-Paul Nerriere.

Jean-Paul Nerriere came up with the idea of Globish from his experience during a business meeting, in which there were a Korean, a Brazilian, and an Englishman. He discovered that the Brazilian, the Korean, and him used a version of English that they all could understand perfectly; however, the Englishman could not.

So what is Globish?

The International Herald Tribune calls it "English lite" - a simplified version of English consisting of 1,500 words. People who speak Globish avoid the use of metaphors, abbreviations, humor, and slangs. In addition, the sentences must be short.

Do you think Globish will catch on? Does Globish pose a serious threat to the English language?

feb 3, 2009, 10:23 am

I think the idea of "subset English" has been around since at least the thirties, as has the idea that the core vocabulary should be about 1500 words (though no-one will ever agree which 1500). What's supposed to be different about Globish is that it's been developed by non-native speakers. Which is probably good for giving it ideological credibility, except that the French aren't really much less tainted by colonialism than the British and the Americans. I can't see that a version of ESL that apparently can't be understood by native speakers is going to have much attraction for commercial language schools, either.

feb 8, 2009, 3:56 pm

I grew up using English in Singapore. It is British English and then for getting around in Singapore, I learned to use "Singlish" which is a local form of "pidgin" English. It is a mixture if grammatically horrible English and bad pronunciation with the addition of bad Malay, mainly Hokkien, and some words from Tamil and a smidgeon of everything else thrown in. The cultural allusions can only be understood by other Singaporeans and maybe some Malaysians.
When I return to Singapore, every once in a while, I revert back to Singlish effortlessly and the taxi driver takes to me to any address in the most direct route and not the tourist, round the island, route. There are still enough of the older generation to know the Hokkien and bad Malay I use. When I worked for a major corporation, I once had to sit between a Chinese person speaking English and a person from south India speaking English and translate between them!

sep 3, 2009, 5:11 am

I've just read the book of Mr Jean-Paul Nerrière, in a Spanish edition: "Don't speak English, hable Globish", and I think that it deserves to be read. The author is quite sincere admitting the two sources of his vulgar dialect of Anglo-American: he makes much reference to the brilliant Basic English developped by Charles K. Ogden in the 30's.

But I think that Nerrière provides his 1500 Globish words vocabulary in a poor way: without definitions, and without groups of words.

Ogden published a nice pocket dictionary on his Basic English, "The Basic Words", which included not only his (over) 850 Basic Words, but also the many Groups of Words that would cover all the essential meanings to be covered in a lenguage, for exemple "be able to", "take into account", "looking after", "looking for", etc. ("look" is not one of the few Basic VERBS, so Ogden seams to propose "looking" from the Basic SUBST. "look").
Therefore, these groups of words are essential, and as far as I know Nerrière doesn't work this matter.

By the other hand, Nerrière doesn't provide definitions for his list of 1500 words, in contrast to the 2nd source he mentions (and recommends): the Simple English of Voice of America, and also in contrast to Ogden and his magnum opus "The Basic Dictionary" (which I'm looking for!), where 7 000 words are defined into the terms of Basic English.