Globish

According to the BBC website, a new lingua franca is upsetting French.

"That the French resent the global supremacy of the English language is nothing new, but ... a newly evolved business-speak version is taking over. ... The French have to recognise that the language war is lost."

Signs are all over the place indeed. Read : http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7844192.stm.

It appears that even the French minister of higher education is proclaiming to the press that she has no intention of speaking French when attending European meetings in Brussels, because, she said, it was quite obvious that English was now the easiest mode of communication. If it were my decision, that lady would be fired on the spot.

A retired French businessman (retired businessmen are dangerous guys because they are bored to death and because they have no one they can boss around no more) said that in a meeting with colleagues from around the world, including an Englishman, a Korean and a Brazilian, he noticed that he and the other non-native English speakers were communicating in a form of English that was completely comprehensible to them, but which left the Englishman nonplussed. They were speaking Globish ...

He felt the need to add that "We're just urinating on the ashes of the fire" and that we should look on Globish, not as a triumphant cultural vehicle for les Anglo-Saxons, but as a tool: essential but purely utilitarian.

Essential, my a**. Pure gibberish, yes. Since when does an age old culture and language have to be sacrificed to the - hopefully still reversible - whims of modern economics, such as globalisation and the free market dogmas ?

English, or Globish, is not winning. French is not losing : the world is losing. When are we finally going to understand that there are other and more significant drivers in life than market "imperatives" ?

***
A word about globalisation : I would not be surprised at all that, if all transport costs were computed correctly and fully (including the enormous costs for the environment), international trade and the ensuing globalisation would collapse. For decades now, millions of workers in the West have lost their jobs to workers in the third and fourth world, because only the difference in labor costs is considered when location is decided and because almost nothing impedes the exploitation of those people (we give them work don't we ?).

If the real full transport costs were computed, the image would change completely. And development in the third world could progress much more equitably and with respect for their own societies and cultures.

2 comments:

Pablo Carpintero said...

I see madness wherever I turn. I fondly remember the titel of a musical from the sixties :

Stop the World - I Want to Get Off !!

Brian Barker said...

I live in London and if anyone says to me “everyone speaks English” my answer is “Listen and look around you”. If people in London do not speak English then the whole question of a global language is completely open.

The promulgation of English as the world’s “lingua franca” is unethical and linguistically undemocratic. I say this as a native English speaker!

Unethical because communication should be for all and not only for an educational or political elite. That is how English is used internationally at the moment.

Undemocratic because minority languages are under attack worldwide due to the encroachment of majority ethnic languages. Even Mandarin Chinese is attempting to dominate as well. The long-term solution must be found and a non-national language, which places all ethnic languages on an equal footing is long overdue.

An interesting video can be seen at http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=_YHALnLV9XU Professor Piron was a former translator with the United Nations

A glimpse of Esperanto can be seen at http://www.lernu.net