Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Monolingual UK and Globish

As in the US, residents of the UK are not so good about learning other languages. Here are a couple of interesting articles I noticed recently about learning and using a variety of languages.

The first one, Monolingual Britain, looks at how British students have stopped studying languages as much as they used to, in part because of the sense of English as the world language, and the idea that everyone speaks English. Sound familiar to you Americans? The article also mentions Globish, a simplified version of English with a truncated vocabulary of only 1500 words, no humor, and no idioms. In other words, the goal of Globish is to be a pared-down languages that serves the simplest communication purposes. Some also believe it could save languages that might be threatened by English.

The second article, called Babelling On, discusses how many official languages the EU should have. Of course, to be completely fair, the EU should include all European languages (yes, even Welsh – and now that I live in Wales, I find it odd that Irish Celtic is included and Welsh is excluded, though there are more speakers of Welsh) and should subsidize translation to and from all the languages. In practice, this is not plausible and it is also very costly. So perhaps the EU should make sure that all major decisions are available in all languages but otherwise just stick to one language, which would likely be English. Or maybe the EU should switch to Globish. Many legal decisions are often difficult to read anyway, so Globish could be an improvement!

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