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Brooker
17-08-04, 10:53
Why do you think English has become the "world language". Is it because English has some advantages over other languages? Is it because of the status that English speaking countries have in the world? Is English a good choice as the world language? Or do you think that English isn't the world language?

:?

60Yen
17-08-04, 11:45
I think English as a world language would be a great idea. I find English the most easy learning language.

Sinspawne
17-08-04, 12:30
I agree with 60Yen.
And I think it does have a lot to do with the status of english speaking countries, especially the US.
And all the good movies that are being produced there help spread the language aswell.
It would be a good choice in my opinion to use english as a 'world language' since it isn't very difficult to learn, and it's already being used all over the world anyway...

Brooker
17-08-04, 12:41
I'm surprised to hear so many people say that English is EASY to learn! I had heard that English is very difficult to learn. It's often very illogical and it always breaks it's own rules. In many cases it seems that English is unnecessarily wordy. But I'm glad that people don't think English is as messed up as I thought it might be.

RockLee
17-08-04, 13:26
English is a worldlanguage already, but according to this article Chinese is the biggest worldlanguage followed by english.

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/4387421/

Sinspawne
17-08-04, 13:31
Maybe it's because I learned english so early on. I just know in the back of my mind when something is spelled wrong, I see it but I can't explain why it should be written in that way.
That was the only thing I had to study in english classes, because I couldn't explain in the tests why I wrote it that way...

Arch
17-08-04, 13:32
Well, when britain had the british empire, we forced people to learn our language and i guess it al started from there !

btw rock, congratz on ya 4 balls

cross-platform
17-08-04, 17:05
I heard that English is one of the better languages for technical things, because it is so easy to change and add new words. A lot of programmers from non-english speaking countries prefer to write their comments in English (or so I have heard).

It seems like English would be one of the harder languages to learn, with all it's wacky rules and whatnot.

PaulTB
17-08-04, 17:10
I heard that English is one of the better languages for technical things, because it is so easy to change and add new words.
It's easy to add words to most languages although some (French) you might get sued to take them back out again. :D

With others (Japanese) the 'imported' words remain clearly distinct from 'native' words - but I'm not sure whether that counts as an advantage or a disadvantage. :relief:

Maciamo
17-08-04, 17:30
English has become a world language because :

1) the British Empire made it an official or communication language in Canada, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, HK, most of Oceania, half of Africa and half of the Caribbean.

2) the US influence in the world since WWII

3) the richness of the English language, which by far the largest vocabulary of any languages in the world (estimated to be about 7x that of French or 4x that of German).

4) the flexibility of the English language. New words can be created all the time, nouns can serve as verbs and vice-versa ("do you yahoo ?", "I google this word....")

5) English's strategic position in Europe as a half-Latin, half-Germanic language, which makes it easy to learn most Western Europeans.

6) English's flexible pronuciation. It may be a drawback as there are so many different accents that it makes it more difficult to learn or understand, but it allows for more diversity, personalization, and tolerance over "mistakes" from learners (unlike French which should sound just as a native to be accepted by French people).

7) Easy, no-nonsensical grammar (almost no genders and plural, little conjugation, fexibility of the sentence structure...)

8) Recogniton of English as "official" language of computing, sciences, technologies, aviation, etc.

9) Success of music in English (rock, pop, rap, etc.) - not just from the UK and US, but also from countries where English is not an official language (Sweden, Denmark, Japan, etc.)

60Yen
17-08-04, 18:32
I'm surprised to hear so many people say that English is EASY to learn! I had heard that English is very difficult to learn. It's often very illogical and it always breaks it's own rules. In many cases it seems that English is unnecessarily wordy. But I'm glad that people don't think English is as messed up as I thought it might be.Really, English is easy compared to German or French. Oh my God, if I think back at the german grammatics, I have to vomit instantly ;)

Lina Inverse
18-08-04, 00:01
The only reason why English became so important is due to the fact that when North America was colonialized, the British settlers became predominant, so English became the main language of North America (US and Canada), and they were powerful and influential enough to push English as the predominant language. The things Maciamo listened only happened as a consequence to this.
If, back then, the German settlers would have been predominant, then German would have been pushed, and all these things (much bigger vocabulary, popular for songs etc.) would now be true for German. Or, if the French settlers had prevailed, then French would now be predominant.

The English language is by far not all nice and dandy. Just take the atrocious, totally unphonetic spelling, even native English speakers often have a hard time with it.


Oh my God, if I think back at the german grammatics, I have to vomit instantly ;)Oh my God, if I think back at the Dutch pronunciation/spelling, I have to vomit instantly :p

Maciamo
18-08-04, 02:43
The only reason why English became so important is due to the fact that when North America was colonialized, the British settlers became predominant, so English became the main language of North America (US and Canada), and they were powerful and influential enough to push English as the predominant language. The things Maciamo listened only happened as a consequence to this.

Are you referring to points 3 to 7 about the richness, flexibility and other innate qualities of the English language or to the development British Empire over 5 contients ? :sorry:

bossel
18-08-04, 05:25
English has become a world language because :

1) the British Empire made it an official or communication language in Canada, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, HK, most of Oceania, half of Africa and half of the Caribbean.

2) the US influence in the world since WWII
I think, these 2 are the major reasons, esp. #2. Before the WW German had a much larger influence. AFAIK, German was the scientific language before WWII. If the nazis had not driven out so many brilliant minds, that probably would have continued.


3) the richness of the English language, which by far the largest vocabulary of any languages in the world (estimated to be about 7x that of French or 4x that of German).
Mmmmh, I have some doubts regarding these relations (have written about that in another thread), but anyway this is a question of chicken & egg, I think. The heavy influence of Latin & French has contributed to the richness in the past, but if English were not spoken as widely as it is, the modern input of other languages into English would be much less.

Brooker
18-08-04, 05:25
English spelling makes no sense. It goes back to the old days when there were no official ways of spelling words, people just spelled everything phonetically any way they saw fit.

In a langauge like Japanese, spelling isn't even really an issue. But Japanese has other challenges.


3) the richness of the English language, which by far the largest vocabulary of any languages in the world (estimated to be about 7x that of French or 4x that of German).

4) the flexibility of the English language. New words can be created all the time

Just an observation....
If English didn't have #4, it wouldn't have been able to get #3 from other languages.

bossel
18-08-04, 05:32
English spelling makes no sense. It goes back to the old days when there were no official ways of spelling words, people just spelled everything phonetically any way they saw fit.
True to a degree, but there existed some standards even back then. The major reason for the strange spelling is that it was petrified while there was still a sound shift going on. The sounds changed, but the change was not reflected in the spelling.


English is a worldlanguage already, but according to this article Chinese is the biggest worldlanguage followed by english.
Chinese has the most speakers, but is usually not considered a world language for being restricted mainly to ethnic Chinese.

Maciamo
18-08-04, 07:07
English spelling makes no sense. It goes back to the old days when there were no official ways of spelling words, people just spelled everything phonetically any way they saw fit.


You'd be surprised by how linguistically correct (logical, etymologic, etc.) English spelling is. Most words coming from Greek, Latin or French are spelt about the same way as the original, regardless of the pronuciation. So you still see clearly the roots. E.g. : philosophy from Greek philo + sophia; construct from Latin con + struct, etc.

Words from Germanic origins are more based on the phonetic and aribitrary decisions. So "house" in English and "Haus" in German are pronouced the same way, but spelled differently. Also note that the Normands tried to regularize middle English words' spelling based on the French spelling. Actually, "house" in old/middle English was pronounced "hus" (hoos), and the "ou" and final "e" come from the French spelling.

Incidentally, I find modern French's spelling much more difficult and irregulat than English' (especially double consonants, silent letters, grammatical changes, etc.)

Brooker
18-08-04, 07:24
It's the inconsistencies that make English spelling so goofy.

For example, the same sounds spelled diffrent ways....
peach & speech
bought, caught, & pot
etc.

Maciamo
18-08-04, 11:02
For example, the same sounds spelled diffrent ways....
peach & speech
bought, caught, & pot
etc.

This has the advantage of avoiding confusing written words that otherwise sound the same : beach/beech, write/right/rite, kernel/colonel, boat/bought, deer/dear, etc.

Then, there are about 13 vowel sounds (+diphtongs) and 24 consonnant sounds in English, but only 26 letters. As English does not use "accent aigue/grave/circomflexes", "umlaut", etc. there must also be different sounds for the same letters, and as English comes from several languages (Anglo-Saxon, Norse, French, Latin, Greek...), it's only natural that there are discrepancies in spelling.

60Yen
18-08-04, 14:20
I think, these 2 are the major reasons, esp. #2. Before the WW German had a much larger influence. AFAIK, German was the scientific language before WWII. If the nazis had not driven out so many brilliant minds, that probably would have continued.
I disagree with you on this one Bossel. Germany was a technical country with much technical influence. Saying that it was the scientific language is not entirely true, because there was actually a technical battle raging between Germany and Britain, all based on patriotic feelings. Yes, German was (and is, I believe that if you want to be a mechanic, you've got to know German, at least here in the Netherlands) an important language. But I think it was inevitable, because America was becoming a superpower and their influence kept groing, especialy through the new information technology of today. Inevitable, just as Latin was a common Language when the Romans ruled...

bossel
18-08-04, 17:22
I disagree with you on this one Bossel. Germany was a technical country with much technical influence. Saying that it was the scientific language is not entirely true, because there was actually a technical battle raging between Germany and Britain, all based on patriotic feelings.
I don't think, we disagree very much. I don't say German would be a world language today if there hadn't been WWII, far from that. But the overall English influence would be significantly lower. English was of course important even before WWII, but German had much greater influence in science.

Speaking of IT, things might have worked out differently as well. Germany had the 1st working computer (Zuse). It's entirely possible that without WWII computer-lingo would be dominated by German just as it is by English now.

60Yen
18-08-04, 18:23
I don't think, we disagree very much. I don't say German would be a world language today if there hadn't been WWII, far from that. But the overall English influence would be significantly lower. English was of course important even before WWII, but German had much greater influence in science.

Speaking of IT, things might have worked out differently as well. Germany had the 1st working computer (Zuse). It's entirely possible that without WWII computer-lingo would be dominated by German just as it is by English now.Well, we will never know that, do we? But you're right about it...

Lina Inverse
18-08-04, 22:46
Are you referring to points 3 to 7 about the richness, flexibility and other innate qualities of the English language or to the development British Empire over 5 contients ? :sorry:
I see I should better comment on your points individually:

to 1) I'd say that the importance of this is vastly overestimated. Without English becoming the official language in North America, English would've never got only remotely as important as it is today.

to 2) Indeed. The US are powerful enough to impose their language onto others, if they want it or not. As their language happens to be English (because the British settlers prevailed), English gets pushed. If other settlers would've been more successful, German or French would now be in that position.

to 3) This is just a consequence of English becoming as important and wide-spread as it is today. If any other Language were to become as important and wide-spread, it would quickly accumulate an equally vast vocabulary.

to 4) This runs in the same vein as 3). If a language would become as important, also its flexibility would increase accordingly to match all the areas in which it is spoken.

to 5) English is a Germanic language with mostly Germanic influences. Although there are some Latin influences, they shouldn't be overestimated.
As Great Britain is situated in the very north, and additionally northwards of the bellicous Germanic tribes which posed a major problem for the Romans, this shielded them pretty well from most Latin influences.
Thus, English is easier to learn for people with a Germanic native language than for people with a Romance native language, or even for those with a totally unrelated language (like Japanese).

to 6) "Flexible pronunciation" is a totally wrong term here. Any language that is spoken over an as vast areal as English will invariably end up with a vast array of dialects, if they want it or not, among which the pronunciation will vary quite a bit. This has nothing to do with "flexible pronunciation".

to 7) That's not quite right. Ok, the articles don't have a gender (only "the"), but besides that, all words (except those for inanimate things) do have a gender. Normally, male gender is assumed - if you want to denote female gender, you have to use a different word. For e.g., "actor" is male, and "actress" is female. Also, all words have singular and plural forms, except for those who are always plural because they consist of two parts (like "scissors" or "trousers"). "Little conjugation" is also found in other Germanic languages, e.g. Norse languages, it's not specific to English. The sentence structure isn't very flexible: If you rearrange "Frank wears a leotard" into "wears Frank a leotard", you've changed the statement into a question (even though it would be nicer to use a construction with "do").

to 8)+9) This is only a consequence of English becoming as important as it is. If any other language (German, French, ...) would have become that important instead, it would have become the official language of science etc., and it would also be the preferred language for songs.

One very important point you have left out is the atrocious, totally unphonetic spelling. Even for native English speakers, it still poses a major problem :mad:


I don't think, we disagree very much. I don't say German would be a world language today if there hadn't been WWII, far from that. But the overall English influence would be significantly lower. English was of course important even before WWII, but German had much greater influence in science.

Speaking of IT, things might have worked out differently as well. Germany had the 1st working computer (Zuse). It's entirely possible that without WWII computer-lingo would be dominated by German just as it is by English now.
Yes, there's a very good probability for this. If WWII hadn't driven away all the brilliant scientists (like Einstein), things would look much different now.

lexico
31-12-04, 14:29
I'm surprised to hear so many people say that English is EASY to learn! I had heard that English is very difficult to learn. It's often very illogical and it always breaks it's own rules.I've heard conflicting stories myself, so I'm with you on this one. I believe a speaker of a European language might find English easier to learn than, say, Japanese because of the cultural heritage shared. A French speaker might also find English rather familiar or "deja vu" becasue of the many French and Latin loans in English.
But I also think that since English is a growing language in that it is probably the only language that comes into direct contact with so many other languages of the world, it is only natural for English to "pick up" certain things along the road. It seems that countries that build large empires or whatever amounts to an empire tend to share this snowballing growth. Vocabulary seems to be growing at a fast pace, and grammar seems to be getting simpler all the time. One example of Asian influence I noticed was "cell phone." It used to be "cellular phone" back in 1980', but now "cell phone" is often found even in printed material such as Readers' Digest or Newsweek. It makes perfect sense in English too, as in "dry cell," but I find the change a little unnatural within the context of English. (Sorry for being too wordy!)

In many cases it seems that English is unnecessarily wordy. But I'm glad that people don't think English is as messed up as I thought it might be.I've noticed that written English tends to prefer the one-part-verbs more, and spoken English seems to prefers the 2-part-verbs or 3-part-verbs (phrasal verbs). And the simple fact that there are not so many 1-part verbs to say "to be born" (other than the loosely synonymous "appear") forces an English speaker to be verbose regardless of intention. But also, some people, like me, LOVE TO TALK on and on and on until stopped..... But let me just add this; ever since Shakespear established the usage of Coordianted Sentences, English has developped a very high level of precision. That is what I think is one of the stonggest merits of English.


Maybe it's because I learned english so early on. I just know in the back of my mind when something is spelled wrong, I see it but I can't explain why it should be written in that way.
That was the only thing I had to study in english classes, because I couldn't explain in the tests why I wrote it that way...It's called innate linguistic ability that lets a person understand the sounds in one language to perfection if learned at an early age. Grammar teachers are only people who have been trained to make the connection between his/her innate understanding of the language and logical formulas so that they can talk "about" the language or teach others to understand it better. So people call this second ability "metalinguistic" ability, which is what you learned in your English class.


English has become a world language because :
...
5) English's strategic position in Europe as a half-Latin, half-Germanic language, which makes it easy to learn most Western Europeans.
...
7) Easy, no-nonsensical grammar (almost no genders and plural, little conjugation, fexibility of the sentence structure...)
I think these two points you noted sum up the historical development of English quite nicely. Coming from a grammatically complex language (European continental) to a relatively simpler language (English) must be vastly easier for the language learner when compared to the other route. Adding to this is the dual makeup of the English vocaubulary; Germanic and Latinate words in coexistence. I wonder if someone has done a statistical study of the uniqueness of English from your two points of view. It's a brilliant set of ideas; from your reading, or your observation?

miu
31-12-04, 14:58
You'd be surprised by how linguistically correct (logical, etymologic, etc.) English spelling is. Most words coming from Greek, Latin or French are spelt about the same way as the original, regardless of the pronuciation. So you still see clearly the roots. E.g. : philosophy from Greek philo + sophia; construct from Latin con + struct, etc.

Also, I think that the case is that they haven't changed the spelling since the great vowel shift so consequently the spelling doesn't match the current pronunciation.

If they wanted to change the spelling fo English now, it'd be an almost impossible task: how do they define what is the standard after the spelling should be modeled? There's standard British English, American English, Indian English... In some African countires, even after colonisation, they use English when communicating with each other because otherwise they would have a fight over which of the numerous languages is the best as a more official language.

If you think about Spanish, it was a world language so to say because Spanish speakers colonised South America and it's still spoken there. The thing is that the British took over the colonising and depriving other countries :p And then there's of course Latin, which was a world language of sorts. I think it's the political and social factors (amont others) that influence more than the structure of the language.

English isn't really easy to learn, we're just used to it. You can't avoid seeing or hearing English nowadays.

Rio Lee
03-01-05, 12:38
English has become a world language because : as stated on Maciamo-san post. But I'm rather interested, on what makes english still a world language?.
I could see that no.9

9) Success of music in English (rock, pop, rap, etc.) - not just from the UK and US, but also from countries where English is not an official language (Sweden, Denmark, Japan, etc.)
is one of reason. Is technology discovered also one of the reason? As in, I can see a lot of new tech being pioneer by western countries. I'm stating this because, I'm interested to see that will the position of English as the world language can be changed. As in what happens if, the music industy shifted from english music to something else(on world scale) or other country other then the western? discovery of a new tech, and the tech only make available by them in their own language(not in a small scale discovery, I'm talking about a huge scale discovery). Expanding language via colonization isnt used anymore in this era..

Brooker
04-01-05, 00:28
Anyone teaching English or learning another language should be able to relate to this. Some of them you have to read aloud to understand....


1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was

time to present the present.

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.

19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?



There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple

nor pine in pineapple.



English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in

France.



Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are

meat.



Quicksand works slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig

is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.



And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers

don't groce and hammers don't ham?



If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth

beeth?



If something is more than good, why isn't it gooder?

One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese?



Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend.



If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of

them,

what do you call

it? Is it an odd, or an end?



If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian

eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?



In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?



Ship by truck and send cargo by ship?



Have noses that run and feet that smell?



How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise

man and a wise guy are opposites?

Censport
04-01-05, 00:42
Wow, and here I thought Spanish was the world language. But then, I live in the U.S.

:lol:

No-name
04-01-05, 01:36
Universal language?:

On my last cruise, the waves buffeted the galley buffet. So I walked up to the bow to bow to the woman wearing the bow. As deliberate as this gesture was, she took long to deliberate it. She made a subtle gesture; Had my entrance had the desired effect to entrance? That that I read what others could not read! Oh the effect on my affect! I struggled to appropriate the appropriate meaning, to attribute the right attribute. But alas, she contracted from our contract and to the converse, wanted not to converse. Later I found there was a spot of pate on my pate. I went to the lounge and I drank some sake from the console to console myself for my heart's sake.

lexico
30-01-05, 14:29
Words from Germanic origins are more based on the phonetic and aribitrary decisions. So "house" in English and "Haus" in German are pronouced the same way, but spelled differently. Also note that the Normands tried to regularize middle English words' spelling based on the French spelling. Actually, "house" in old/middle English was pronounced "hus" (hoos), and the "ou" and final "e" come from the French spelling.How does one know if a particular spelling was influenced by Germanic speech sounds or Norman French spelling?
Are you aware of any list/table/glossary/database either on-line/off-line that has a lot of examples?
Or are you interpreting what's listed in OxfordED etymology?

Incidentally, I find modern French's spelling much more difficult and irregular than English' (especially double consonants, silent letters, grammatical changes, etc.)But isn't French orthogrpahy more regular in the sense that any form that might look irregular are all predictable, ie. following a strict pattern?

double consonats: Can you quote a couple of examples?
vowels: Aren't they 100% predictable from spelling?
silent consonants: Aren't they silent if a -t/-s is the last letter?
grammatical irregularity: I don't know?

But I think French orthography is more rational on the whole.
No mystery, or excuses saying except this, except that, like in English.
In English grammar, soo~ many times one must rely on usage, otherwise the rule book become so thick!

"Don't ask questions! People just talk that way!" :)


I see I should better comment on your points individually:......
to 6) "Flexible pronunciation" is a totally wrong term here. Any language that is spoken over an as vast areal as English will invariably end up with a vast array of dialects, if they want it or not, among which the pronunciation will vary quite a bit. This has nothing to do with "flexible pronunciation".
......
One very important point you have left out is the atrocious, totally unphonetic spelling. Even for native English speakers, it still poses a major problem :mad:I understand your individual points. But when we apply each conclusion to the thesis at hand, I'm not sure how they are related.

point 6) "Flexible pronunciation": The terminology is loose as you say, but having such regional varieties of English allows for more laxity when it is spoken by a non-native speaker also, hence contributing to the easy spread of English.

point *) "atrocious spelling": Likewise, the irregularity of spelling is difficult for the native speaker and non-native speaker alike, making it easier for the non-native speaker to make up for the difference, hence contributing to the easy spread of English.

Although you refuted the thesis that English has properties that make it universal, I find the above as supporting arguments for the thesis.

seasurfer
03-02-05, 15:25
Why do you think English has become the "world language".

:?

I wouldn't use the term "world language", because English is not and has never been a world language at anytime of history. However, English is the most prevailing language in the world, the most widely learnt language, although Chinese is still by far the largest, it is not as prevailing as English, it is also not widely taught as English. Just imagine even Chinese people learn English.

Hence, the term, "prevailing language" is the term I would prefer to use.


Is it because English has some advantages over other languages? :?

The purpose of a language is to facilitate communication, mankind invented language for the sake of conveying ones thought to another. Any language that ever existed and is spoken by at least two people can achieve this purpose. Therefore, I would say all languages are equal and no languages will have an advantage over the rest.

However, a language can be developed into a more advance stage to suit certain specific function. Languages which are developed to suit that specific function will have more advantages over the languages which are not developed to suit that specific function.


Is it because of the status that English speaking countries have in the world?

:?

I don't really get what you mean. What kind of status does English speaking countries have in the world? I don't think Britain has any special status over France, just because French are not English speaking.


Is English a good choice as the world language?
:?

From what I have observed, English is by far the only language in the world that can bring so many people from all walk of life to the same platform. Take the example of this forum, we can see people from many countries and ethnic background here. Will you be able to see this kind of diversity on a pure Japanese forum? The answer is likely a No. The function of language as I mentioned above is to facilitate mankind communication, English is one of the languages that has done it most successfully.

I have been to different languages forums and I have never seen such a diversity on other language forum. When we come to discussion, we would like to get as many ideas as we can, we would also like to hear from people around the world, from people of another country, from people of different ethnic background...etc. I am sorry to say that, no other language has ever achieved this, what I see in other language forum is only from one kind of ethnic group or from one country, hardly anyone different from the majority.

Therefore, since English is the most prevailing language currently, it is best for everyone to learn it so that people for all walk of life can communicate without so much hassle.

But English been the most prevailing language is not without a reason. Things may change as time flies. We wouldn't know what will happen in the future. Take example of East Asia, 200-300 years ago, chinese written language is the de facto language of almost all east asian countries, from Japan to Vietnam, almost any scholar staying in any of these countries will have to learn kanji or chinese characters, almost all official records will have a chinese version. Today, chinese written language is no longer the de facto language of all these countries except China. English, instead become more popular among these countries, including China itself. Thus, it is very difficult to predict the future, just like people living in Japan 200 years ago can't predict that English will become so internationalized today, even the English have not predicted it, French was even more popular at that time.

Brooker
05-02-05, 05:08
I don't really get what you mean. What kind of status does English speaking countries have in the world? I don't think Britain has any special status over France, just because French are not English speaking.


I meant that there are many countries that speak English and many of those countries are very powerful internationally. By contrast, many countries speak Spanish, but most of them are not nearly as economically powerful. So, part of my question was, "Is that a reason why English is so widespread?".

lexico
05-02-05, 07:57
200 years ago can't predict that English will become so internationalized today, even the English have not predicted it, French was even more popular at that time.
So, part of my question was, "Is that a reason why English is so widespread?".Apart from the fact that it is currently widespread, how far, how fast it became widespread, and will it, can it, must it forever stay that way?" all deserve some attention.

English before 1945, or before the end of WWII, or before the dropping of the two atomic bombs, (whichever is more important ??? !!! ***) was NOT considered a language with international recognition. The US delegates to the League of Nations were embarassed when asked, "How do you plan to manage without a proper command of French in those international meetings?" In a way English was a culturally and politically handicapped language not too long ago.

Qhat I am trying to say is this. If it was not, a while ago, but is, right now, will it still be, in a 100 or even 500 years from now?
Or will English achieve the grand cultural status of Greek or Latin and then fade away likewise for linguists' pastime ?

seasurfer
07-02-05, 03:55
This is something worth taking a look at. It will help our discussion.

http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats7.htm

Looking at the statistic, although English is currently the most widely used language on the internet, how long more can English still remain as the most widely used language on the internet? The statistic stated that English has 1 billion users worldwide, however, as far as I know, the real amount of English native speakers is only at about 400-500 million, the rest of them are more likely using English as a second language or bilingual people. How much more potential does English still has? Taking into consideration that it is going to reach its maximal potential among its native speakers, and Chinese seems to be too unsaturated with its 1.3 billion users. Will Chinese in the near future becomes the most widely used language on the internet? Is it going to change the world linguistic profile?

What about India? I checked the same website, India has about 18 million internet users, even far more unsaturated than China. What language will be the dominant language among Indian users in the future if their internet users rise? English or Hindi? English is one of India's official languages, and it seems that educated Indians are more inclined to use English over their native language. Are Indians considered native speakers of English? If one day there are more Indians using English than the original native speakers add up together, who will decide the rules and regulations of this language? Should it be the majority or the minority?

Maciamo
07-02-05, 04:24
is one of reason. Is technology discovered also one of the reason? As in, I can see a lot of new tech being pioneer by western countries. I'm stating this because, I'm interested to see that will the position of English as the world language can be changed. As in what happens if, the music industy shifted from english music to something else(on world scale) or other country other then the western?

A shift of technology won't change anything. There are over 30 languages in Europe, and most countries have the exact same technology as in English speaking countries, but English pop & rock music still dominates. However, for things like the "opera" Italian and French are dominant (even German-speaking composers usually made operas in Italian rather than German). It's just in the sonority of the language. And sorry to say it, but all East Asian music I have heard will never be able to overtake music in English (even in Japan with all the financial and technological resources available). I like J-pop, but it is a fact that it just doesn't take off in Western countries.


discovery of a new tech, and the tech only make available by them in their own language(not in a small scale discovery, I'm talking about a huge scale discovery).

That just doesn't exist. Any technology can be copied/borrowed/bought by anybody. I mean, if technology was the only possessions of the country (or wider ethnic group) that had invented it, the Japanese would still be riding oxen (or horses for the samurai), wear kimono and listen to shamisen.

Maciamo
07-02-05, 05:13
to 1) I'd say that the importance of this is vastly overestimated. Without English becoming the official language in North America, English would've never got only remotely as important as it is today.

That is true, but even with less speakers, English would still be dominant thanks to the British Empire. Without it, then who knows...


2) Indeed. The US are powerful enough to impose their language onto others, if they want it or not. As their language happens to be English (because the British settlers prevailed), English gets pushed. If other settlers would've been more successful, German or French would now be in that position.

Yes, but English still has the long-term advantage of being a mix of old German/Dutch anf old French, making it the only real Latino-Germanic language in Europe.


3) This is just a consequence of English becoming as important and wide-spread as it is today. If any other Language were to become as important and wide-spread, it would quickly accumulate an equally vast vocabulary.
...
to 5) English is a Germanic language with mostly Germanic influences.


I think you should read more about the history of the English language. Old English (=Anglo-Saxon) was a language related to Dutch and the North German dialect ("Platte Duetsh"). However, the Danish Vikings invaded most of England (North, East and Center) in the 9th century, and created their own kingdom (Danelaw) with Old Norse as dominant language. We can still see their influence in people's name ending in "-son" in Northern England. When the Danes and Anglo-Saxon were united under one king, their language progressiely fused into a new one (Middle English). Words like egg, window, husband, etc. come from Old Norse, not Anglo-Saxon.
Then came William, Duke of Normandy, who conquered England in 1066. Although of Danish descent, he was born and raised in France and spoke only French. French was to remain the official language of England for the next 2 centuries (and the kings of England were still officially king of France thanks to their possession in France until Henry VIII). Latin and Greek were used by scholars and ecclesiastics, and Modern English as spoken by Shakespeare was already a fusion of those 5 languages : Anglo-Saxon, Old Norse, Old French, Latin and Greek. Out of these 5, Anglo-Saxon and French make up the biggest part of the vocabulary.


Although there are some Latin influences, they shouldn't be overestimated.
As Great Britain is situated in the very north, and additionally northwards of the bellicous Germanic tribes which posed a major problem for the Romans, this shielded them pretty well from most Latin influences.

What do the Romans have to do with that ? After they left Britain, all the people left in Britain spoke Gaelic. When the Anglo-Saxon came, they pushed almost 100% (quite remarkable indeed) of these Gaelic speakers to Wales, Cornwall and a bit to Scotland too. When William I became king in 1066, nobody spoke Latin in Britain, and no Latin words subsisted. It all came after with the medieval scholars and the church.


Thus, English is easier to learn for people with a Germanic native language than for people with a Romance native language

It is only easier pronuciation-wise and for the basic everyday vocabulary. All the difficult words in English are almost identical to French. What's more, the English grammar (word order, plural in "-s", absence of declination, etc.) is again closer to French than German, due to the Norman influence.


6) "Flexible pronunciation" is a totally wrong term here. Any language that is spoken over an as vast areal as English will invariably end up with a vast array of dialects, if they want it or not, among which the pronunciation will vary quite a bit. This has nothing to do with "flexible pronunciation".

You are totally wrong. There are much, much more dialects and different pronuciation within the UK than in the USA. Have you ever travelled around England ? In Liverpool poeple would say "me hoos is in the centre of toon" (my house is in the centre of town). Never heard such strong regional accents in the States. That's the historic heritage, as "house" was pronouced "hoos" in Middle English. The French-Norman court respelled all Englis words like in French, so "hus" (or "hoos") became "house". The pronucation only changed with the "great vowel shift" around the Renaissance.


7) That's not quite right. Ok, the articles don't have a gender (only "the"), but besides that, all words (except those for inanimate things) do have a gender.

The only gender in English are for words like actor/actress, waitor/waitress, duke/duchess, king/queen, lion/lioness, or the like. Not for inanimate things.


Normally, male gender is assumed - if you want to denote female gender, you have to use a different word.

No. Even a "baby" is referred by "it" in English. It's neutral. Recently, when talking about a person whose sex is unknown (eg. "If you met someone in the street"), we say "they" (or "he or she") and not "he", although the masculine used to be normal until the feminists came.


to 8)+9) This is only a consequence of English becoming as important as it is. If any other language (German, French, ...) would have become that important instead, it would have become the official language of science etc., and it would also be the preferred language for songs.

Not necessarily. Even within Europe, the UK has been more important in the development of sciences than most other countries. Germany is a good rival, but France is behind, and Italy, Spain or the other not even in the league. Have a look at the Nobel prize for sciences, the UK has recieved 86, Germany 71 and France 47. Let us not forget than Germany's population is about 20% higher (even more before WWII, due to German war losses and the huge immigration from British colonies to the UK after the decolonisation).
As for music, why would French or especially German singers sing in English in their own countries ? Pop music was born in England with the Beattles, not in the States (although Rock was).


One very important point you have left out is the atrocious, totally unphonetic spelling. Even for native English speakers, it still poses a major problem

Yes, that's the biggest problem for learners of English. But that also allows for the richness of pronuciations. In what language better than in English can you tell someone's socio-economic background from their accent ?

Duo
07-02-05, 05:44
I am for english to become such language. It is almost already, it is practical, i would advocate that english be an official language in the EU, however, those that are native english speakers within this union should learn another second language for a member state, and this should be required. Heh, just a lil thought

bossel
07-02-05, 09:36
created their own kingdom (Danelaw) with Old Norse as dominant language. We can still see their influence in people's name ending in "-son" in Northern England.
Old Norse as a dominant language is a bit questionable. Old Norse & Old English are said to be for a great deal mutually intelligible (although I have some doubts here). Vikings & Anglo-Saxons lived side by side (well, in neighbouring villages usually) in those times. For what I know, there was not much of a prestige difference.


When the Danes and Anglo-Saxon were united under one king, their language progressiely fused into a new one (Middle English).
Well, maybe. But that was not yet ME. ME only really came into being after 1066. Of course the shift was already going on when the Normans arrived, but we don't know how great the influence of Old Norse really was.


French was to remain the official language of England for the next 2 centuries
Official as in language of the court, yes. Official as in the country's language, no. Even a great part of Anglo-Norman nobility probably had Anglo-Saxon as their 1st language only some 50 years after the conquest.


What do the Romans have to do with that ? After they left Britain, all the people left in Britain spoke Gaelic. [...]When William I became king in 1066, nobody spoke Latin in Britain, and no Latin words subsisted.
Not quite so. There is actually some evidence that the Celts previously under Roman control had Latin as their 1st language when the Anglo-Saxons arrived.
When William arrived there were already a lot of Latin words in Old English, some perhaps through Celtic influence, most through the influence of the Christian church.


It is only easier pronuciation-wise and for the basic everyday vocabulary. All the difficult words in English are almost identical to French.
Many of the "difficult" words are similar in German. There is heavy Latin (& French) influence in German, too.


Not necessarily. Even within Europe, the UK has been more important in the development of sciences than most other countries. Germany is a good rival, but France is behind, and Italy, Spain or the other not even in the league. Have a look at the Nobel prize for sciences (V), the UK has recieved 86, Germany 71 and France 47. Let us not forget than Germany's population is about 20% higher
We were talking of the times before WWII. Taking into consideration the Nobel prizes for natural sciences (chemistry, physics, medicine) up to 1939 we get a slightly different picture:
Germany/Austria: 35/5
UK/US: 22/14

Population size is not really relevant to the question how much influence a language had in science.


In what language better than in English can you tell someone's socio-economic background from their accent ?
Better? I don't know, probably not. But in Germany there are certain distinctions as well.

Mycernius
12-02-05, 23:50
English is, whether you like it or not, a dominate language in the world. The fact that more people in China are learning English than there are people in the US at any time makes you realise what a dominate language it is. You need to speak English to be an airline piliot, it is the international martime language.The language are very flexible. Unlike French, or rather the French government who keep trying to keep the language pure, refuse to let foriegn words in. This will probably make french becoming more a minority language because it refuses to adapt. China might become a Major superpower in the future, but with English being in the position that it is in now, they would probably use it as a default language. This only leaves one problem, because English is so widely used many English spaekers do not feel the need to learn other languages. the Government in England have tried many ways to make people learn a different language, but a majority of English speakers cannot be bothered. Just look on this site. A high percentage of the posts are in English, even if the people posting are not English Speakers. Even this discussion is in English. German might have been a technical language before WW2 but it could never succeed English. England had the industrial revolution, the largest empire in the world. George the III ruled over more land than Genghis Khan. You could say German might have been chosen as a language in the US, but English would still dominate the country because England was the superpower at the time and its biggest trading partner, even after independence. Being at the right time and place have made English the force it is today. Nobody knows if it will continue like this in the future, but no other language has had the influence on the world as English. As I have said before, the only problem is that it makes English speakers lazy to learn another language.
If I've waffled I do apolagise, I've a tendancy to do this.

Duo
15-02-05, 00:32
Maybe if native english speakers didn't act as such a##holes sometimes, this idea would be easier to digest. They could show their goodwill by starting learn foreign languages, lets not forget, once greek was the language to know, then latin, then whatever, then french, now english, the world keeps on changing ;)

Brooker
15-02-05, 00:48
Probably the native speakers of any dominant language would be less inclined to learn other languages. It's an unfortunate side effect. I don't think it has anything to do with being @$$h0!e$.

I guess you could say it the opposite way... If you damn non-native speakers would stop learning English, maybe we'd learn your language. :D

lexico
15-02-05, 01:48
Maybe if native english speakers didn't act as such a##holes sometimesI didn't know that the @$$ㅐㅇㄴㅌ$ were a subset of native english speakers. Aren't they a totally different breed?
And if the dam is for Amsterdam, I'd add Dutch bashin' ain' cool.... :happy:

Duo
15-02-05, 02:10
i guess i shoulda written it a bit differently, what i mean is loud rudy tourists who pretend that everyone should speak english and act like if the people don't speak english there are stupid, "you don't speak englishhhh?, it's like the end of the world or smth" THat kind of attitude annoys local people.

Anyways, didnt mean to call anoyone here in particualar an [email protected]@hole, so don't bad rep me just yet ;)

Lacan
15-02-05, 02:33
i guess i shoulda written it a bit differently, what i mean is loud rudy tourists who pretend that everyone should speak engrish and act like if the people don't speak english there are stupid, "you don't speak engrishhhh?, it's like the end of the world or smth" THat kind of attitude annoys local people.

Yeah, that's really annoying, I had a job (well, an arbeit ) at gare de l'Est in paris, and I was selling long range train tickets. Of all customers, the only ones who never tried to talk french (not even "merci" or "bonjour") was the native english speakers. (ok I'm exaggerating a bit, britishs was trying hard :p ).
la palme d'or des apprentis francophones goes to germans, (aber zu viele ei ist nicht gesund..) and... chineses! :cool:

Duo
15-02-05, 02:56
Yeah, that's really annoying, I had a job (well, an arbeit ) at gare de l'Est in paris, and I was selling long range train tickets. Of all customers, the only ones who never tried to talk french (not even "merci" or "bonjour") was the native english speakers. (ok I'm exaggerating a bit, britishs was trying hard :p ).
la palme d'or des apprentis francophones goes to germans, (aber zu viele ei ist nicht gesund..) and... chineses! :cool:

hey u can't change my qoute from you dont speak english to you dont speak engrishhhh :p :p

and yes, that is exatcly what I mean, I speak english just as good as a native, modesty aside, but i always try to say smth in the native language of the place i go, if know anything at all :wave:

Mycernius
17-02-05, 23:05
I agree with you Duo-san . As an Englishman abroad I feel that you should at least be able to say Thank you and hello in that language. I do find it embrassing wheen your in a foriegn country and you hear some brainless peasent going 'DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?' at the top of their voices and then calling them names because they don't. I saw one american tourist in Poland trying to word that phrase in different ways, and finally, when no response statisfied him went out of the shop swearing all sorts of things. I managed to get served very well despite only knowing yes, no and good day.

Duo
17-02-05, 23:57
:D:D

great story, I myself would love to speak english everywhere, seeing as i'm fluent, but I realize that one should also respect the local culture, and like you mentioned the story about the american tourist, that's the typical stuff that irritates me just as it would irritate most people

Maciamo
18-02-05, 03:42
lets not forget, once greek was the language to know, then latin, then whatever, then french, now english, the world keeps on changing ;)

Indeed, the trend is moving toward the north-west. If that continues, in a few centuries Irish Gaelic, then Icelandic, then Inuit will become dominant languages... How likely is that to happen ? :relief:

In fact, English is a derivative of French (mixed with Germanic languages), while French is a derivative of Latin (spoken by a Germanic people, the Franks), and Latin is somewhat of an offshot of Greek, through the cultural influence of Greece on the Romans (e.g. look at the Greek religion adopted by the Romans). Educated Romans learnt Greek, educated French people learnt Latin (and Greek), then educated English people learnt French (and Latin and Greek), and now educated people around the world learn English (and French...).

miu
19-02-05, 01:16
I've always wondered how English would've turned out without the French influence.... (sort of unrelated to the topic but had to say it anyway :blush: )

Duo
19-02-05, 20:15
Indeed, the trend is moving toward the north-west. If that continues, in a few centuries Irish Gaelic, then Icelandic, then Inuit will become dominant languages... How likely is that to happen ? :relief:



It may be likely however, that Spanish or even Chinese could start to grow in influence and may get the upperhand on english, one never knows :?

Lina Inverse
19-02-05, 21:12
Incidentally, I find modern French's spelling much more difficult and irregular than English' (especially double consonants, silent letters, grammatical changes, etc.)
The French orthography makes my hair stand on end as well, but it is at least somewhat more regular and predictable than the English spelling.


Anyone teaching English or learning another language should be able to relate to this. Some of them you have to read aloud to understand....

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
<snip>

There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple
nor pine in pineapple.
<snip>

Those are some very good examples indeed :D
True nightmare for anyone that learns English.

About Chinese becoming a possible world language:
There are only that much Mandarin (official Chinese) speakers because it's imposed by the government. There are several other languages spoken in China, like Cantonese, Wu/Shanghainese, Jin etc. which are at least as different from each other as e.g. Spanish and Norwegian, rather more, but their speakers are strongly disencouraged to use them, and schools may only have Mandarin as teaching language.
However, their influence stops at the border, and it's extremely unlikely that Mandarin will spread further because it's extremely inaccessible to others: first, it consists exclusively of the highly complex hanzhi, which alone already take countless years to learn, and second, it posseses tones, which nearly all other languages completely lack, and thus are very difficult to learn as well.
Before not at least the hanzhi are abandoned (not bloody likely with the current government) and the tonal system is at least greatly simplified, it won't see any further spread outside China.

Mycernius
19-02-05, 21:43
It may be likely however, that Spanish or even Chinese could start to grow in influence and may get the upperhand on english, one never knows :?
Spanish has a good chance of becoming a second language in the world due to the fact that it has the same habit as english; that is to borrow from other languages. It also has a place in America where a lot of people in the southern states use it as a second language or even their first. What could end up happening is the two languages to merge over time to produce a hybrid language. After all english and spanish are hybrid languages themselves. New language-Spanglish (Isn't there a film called this). After all spanish phrases and words are making there way into english. Also read somewhere that spanish is slowly losing the formal you, like english did several hundred years ago. does anybody use thou anymore?
Could end up speaking like Gaff in Blade Runner

Sensuikan San
23-02-05, 06:42
I agree with you Duo-san . As an Englishman abroad I feel that you should at least be able to say Thank you and hello in that language. I do find it embrassing wheen your in a foriegn country and you hear some brainless peasent going 'DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?' at the top of their voices and then calling them names because they don't. I saw one american tourist in Poland trying to word that phrase in different ways, and finally, when no response statisfied him went out of the shop swearing all sorts of things. I managed to get served very well despite only knowing yes, no and good day.

Have just been "lurking" - and noticed this post from Mycernius, from a few days ago ....

How absolutely true this can be !

I do so strongly feel, that to gain respect in a foreign environment, all that is demanded of you is.... not fluency .... but effort ! And rightly so !

Personally, I've found that one can achieve amazing results in any country with the ability to say or ask (in their language, of course...) :

"Please"

"Thank you"

"Hello"

"Good-bye"

"Excuse me"

"How much ?"

and of course, "Thank you !"

Plus, the ability to count* up to ten, and then in hundreds ...

Plus that immortal and desperate question "... do you speak English .... ?"

Armed thus - it takes only an evening to learn.... you can travel safely anywhere in the world - and never be rude !

P.S. *Counting ? Kore wa ...One exception to the rule! ... in Japanese; I'm slightly befuddled here- and would like to start a new thread some time .... !