Author Topic: Global English? Or who moved the Tower of Babel?  (Read 1118 times)

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Offline Seze Mune

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Global English? Or who moved the Tower of Babel?
« on: November 07, 2011, 10:32:13 am »
I came across an interesting article about the future of language.  It even mentions Avatar, James Cameron and Karyu Pawl! 

"...In the early decades of the twentieth century, H.G. Wells imagined what would become known as World English in his prophetic novel, “The World Set Free.” That term for the concept of English as an international language, a global second language, an intellectual and commercial lubricant, even an instrument of foreign policy on the part of the major English-speaking nations, grew common only in the 1960s. It has circulated since the 1920s, though, and the idea was touched upon earlier, not just by Wells, but also by Alexander Melville Bell, who had in 1888 presented World-English, a scheme of revised spellings intended to help learners acquire the language that, as he saw it, exceeded all others “in general fitness to become the tongue of the World.” Robert Nares, writing in 1784, presented with no little relish a vision of English extending prodigiously around the globe. Even before that, John Adams had prophesied that it would become the most widely spoken and read language – and “the most respectable.”

"The term World English is still in use, but is contested by critics who believe it strikes too strong a note of dominance. Today World English is known by several names, perhaps the most catchy of which is Globish (though personally I think this sounds silly), a term popularized by Jean-Paul Nerrière in his book “Don’t Speak English, Parlez Globish.” Globish, as conceived by Nerrière, is a pragmatic form of English consisting of 1,500 words, intended to make it possible for everyone in the world to understand everyone else.

"Nerrière’s Globish is not alone. Madhukar Gogate, a retired Indian engineer, has independently come up with an idea for something he too calls Globish. It would use phonetic spellings to create what he considers a neater form of English. This could become a global language enabling links between people from different cultures. Meanwhile Joachim Grzega, a German linguist, is promoting Basic Global English, which has a mere twenty grammatical rules and a vocabulary comprising 750 words that learners are expected to supplement with an additional 250 words relevant to their individual needs.

"Although these schemes may be intended in a different spirit, promoting a neutral form of English rather than one freighted with “Anglo” values, they are part of a larger, often invisible project: to establish a community, without territorial boundaries, of people who use English; to make its use seem not just normal, but also prestigious; and to market it as a language of riches, opportunity, scholarship, democracy and moral right. This is supported economically, politically, in education and the media, and sometimes also by military force. Much of the endorsement happens covertly. And as English continues to spread, it seems like a steamroller, squashing whatever gets in its way. True, it is often used alongside local languages and does not instantly replace them. Yet its presence shifts the cultural emphases in the lives of those who adopt it, altering their aspirations and expectations. English seems, increasingly, to be a second first language. It is possible to imagine it merely coexisting with other languages, but easy to see that coexistence turning into transcendence. As English impinges on the spaces occupied by other languages, so linguists are increasingly finding that they need to behave like environmentalists: instead of being scholars they have to become activists.

"There have been attempts to create an artificial language for use by all the world. In the second half of the nineteenth century and then especially in the early years of the twentieth, schemes to construct new languages were numerous. Most of these are now forgotten: who remembers Cosmoglossa, Spokil, Mundolingue, Veltparl, Interlingua, Romanizat, Adjuvilo or Molog? Some of the innovators sound like remarkably odd people. Joseph Schipfer, developer of Communicationssprache, was also known for promoting means of preventing people from being buried alive. Etienne-Paulin Gagne, who devised Monopanglosse, proposed that in time of famine Algerians help their families and friends by exchanging their lives or at least some of their limbs for food, and was willing if necessary to give up his own body to the needy.

"Only two schemes enjoyed success. In 1879 a Bavarian pastor, Johann Martin Schleyer, devised Volapük. It was briefly very popular: within ten years of its invention, there were 283 societies to promote it, and guides to Volapük were available in twenty-five other languages. As Arika Okrent observes in her book “In the Land of Invented Languages,” Volapük is a gift to people with a puerile sense of humour: ‘to speak’ is pükön, and ‘to succeed’ is plöpön. More famous and less daft-sounding were the efforts of Ludwik Zamenhof, a Polish ophthalmologist of Lithuanian Jewish descent, who in the 1870s began work on creating Esperanto, a language without irregularities. He published his first book on the subject in 1887, summing up the language’s grammar in sixteen rules and providing a basic vocabulary. Zamenhof’s motives were clear; he had grown up in the ghettos of Bialystok and Warsaw, and, struck by the divisiveness of national languages, he dreamt of uniting humanity. Esperanto is certainly the most successful of modern invented languages, but although it still has enthusiastic supporters there is no prospect of its catching on as Zamenhof once hoped.

"You are more likely to have heard Klingon, which was originated by Marc Okrand for the “Star Trek” films, and the Elvish languages – notably Quenya and Sindarin, modelled on Finnish and Welsh respectively – devised by J.R.R. Tolkien and faithfully used in Peter Jackson’s films of “The Lord of the Rings.” A more recent example of a new artificial language is the one conceived by Paul Frommer that is spoken by the blue-skinned Na’vi in James Cameron’s 2009 film “Avatar.” Where once they embodied political hopefulness in the real world, invented languages have become accessories of art and entertainment."

For the source and the rest of the story:   The Language of the Future

Offline Irtaviš Ačankif

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Re: Global English? Or who moved the Tower of Babel?
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2011, 06:45:14 pm »
My version of reformed spelling:

Reformed: Way shùld wi kùntìnyu tu yuz keyotìc Ìngglish speling? Way känt raytrrz ùräwnd ðù wùrld sìmpli tshaynj? Wi nid niw speling - ðät ìz ùndìnayùbll.
Current: Why should we continue to use chaotic English spelling? Why cant writers around the world simply change? We need new spelling - that is undeniable.

I understand it is MUCH more radical than what was mentioned as Globish. However, it will make things very easy for English learners and whatnot, text-to-speech machines! By the way, you can tell it's influenced by Na'vi typography.
Previously Ithisa Kīranem, Uniltìrantokx te Skxawng.

Name from my Sakaš conlang, from Sakasul Ältäbisäl Acarankïp

"First name" is Ačankif, not Eltabiš! In Na'vi, Atsankip.

Offline Seze Mune

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Re: Global English? Or who moved the Tower of Babel?
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2011, 10:41:50 am »
My version of reformed spelling:

Reformed: Way shùld wi kùntìnyu tu yuz keyotìc Ìngglish speling? Way känt raytrrz ùräwnd ðù wùrld sìmpli tshaynj? Wi nid niw speling - ðät ìz ùndìnayùbll.
Current: Why should we continue to use chaotic English spelling? Why cant writers around the world simply change? We need new spelling - that is undeniable.

I understand it is MUCH more radical than what was mentioned as Globish. However, it will make things very easy for English learners and whatnot, text-to-speech machines! By the way, you can tell it's influenced by Na'vi typography.

I actually like it, ma 'eylan! And good points you make kop.

 

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