A new age in cross-cultural communications using Global English as the tool.
Change has been the one constant in the development of the human race since the beginning. But never has change been so immense as it has been in the past decade. Just think about the massive changes taking place to our environment, technology, communications and economies just to name a few … and so it is now with language, in the form of Global English.
Paradigm shifts, where a whole community changes the way they do things, are fast becoming the norm rather than the exception. I have already covered the paradigm shift taking place in education in another Knol, but I now wish to cover the inter-related one talking place in global language and inter-person communications.
The message and challenge in both fields is quite clear … be part of the new paradigm or risk being made redundant and irrelevant by holding to tightly to the old.
NOTE: This article is written by a native-English speaking author for a native-English speaking audience.
Introduction to Global English
According to a 2006 research conducted on behalf of the British Council by the applied linguist David Graddol: “A massive increase in the number of people learning English has already begun, and is likely to reach a peak of around 2 billion in the next 10–15 years.”
This Knol attempts to follow David Graddol’s reasoning where he states that “there comes a moment where one has to pause and conclude that a new framework is required to understand the events now unfolding before us, to comprehend why they are happening, and to speculate on what might happen next. We need a ‘paradigm shift’”.
- What form and competency level of current English will the new learners of English choose to adopt?
- Am I as an entrepreneur and educator shaping my offer and teaching techniques to meet this massive and evolving market need so desperate for information and learning?
- As a native English speaker wishing to exploit the global opportunities for information and learning, do I need to change my approach in the way that I produce products written in English?
|Wordle of Global English Knol|
I should point out that my discoveries here do not point to a time for native English speakers to relax as winners in the global competition for language supremacy. It is rather an urgent call to action and to up-skill in relearning English as a global communication tool. It is a call to match the bi-lingual qualifications of our global competitors for jobs, trade and customers.
Neil Reynolds in an article titled “Spread the word: English is unstoppable”, published in The Globe and Mail, attempts to quantify the growth in global English with this statement – “In Mr. Mulcaster’s 1582, English was spoken by perhaps four million people. In Mr. Adams’s 1780, by perhaps 12 million. In Noah Webster’s 1828, on publication of The American Dictionary of the English Language, by perhaps 50 million. A century later, in H.L. Mencken’s rambunctious 1920s, on his publication of The American Language, by perhaps 200 million. With two billion now speaking it or learning to speak it, we can credibly imagine a genuine global language.” 
- Native - (approx. 300 million) – people who learned English at home with their family when they were young. Typically these speakers come from United States (215 million), United Kingdom (61 million), Canada (18.2 million), Australia (15.5 million), Ireland (3.8 million), South Africa (3.7 million), and New Zealand (3.0 million).
- Second language – (approx. 200 million) – people who learned English because they live/lived in the country where the language is spoken.
- Foreign language – (approx 1,500 million) – people who learned/are learning English in a country where English is neither their Native or Official language. (i.e. it is a language that is studied at school or for self-improvement). David Graddol points out that we may be actually witnessing the end of English as a foreign language and the beginning of a whole new global language using English-lite as a start point.
- Note: The term Official language is applied when a governing body determines that that language will be an acceptable basis of communication within the country/organisation in things like official documents, official meetings, or used in the media. For English this included countries like Fiji, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Uganda.
The motives for this spontaneous and global growth in the desire to learn the English language has little to do with these hundreds of millions of people wanting to imbibe or even appreciate English culture. 
|#1 – Photo Source – www.wikimedia.org The Levant|
This Latin term has its origins in Europe in the 14th century and it literally means “Frankish tongue or language.” This language was an Italian-Provencal jargon or pidgin that was widely used in the Middle Ages. Traders and mariners in the Mediterranean Basin and in particular in the eastern Mediterranean ports (the Levant) and Northern Africa used it extensively. The language was based mostly on Catalan and Italian but later included Spanish and Portuguese elements, especially on the Barbary coast. It also borrowed from French, Greek, Persian, Turkish and Arabic to form its own language set and vocabulary.
- Koine – which was the lingua franca dialect of ancient Greek at the time of Alexandra the Great and was widely spoken throughout the eastern Mediterranean area in Roman times. It is still the official language of the Vatican
- Aramaic - part of a Semitic family of languages from Syria which played this lingua franca role in Near East/Southwest Asia from as early as the 6th century BC to approximately 650 AD.
- Classical Latin – which was the dominant lingua franca of European scholars until the 18th century.
- Portuguese – which served as a diplomatic and trade language for African and Asian coastal areas during the era of European exploration in the 15th–18th centuries.
- French - which has been the lingua franca language of diplomacy in Europe since the 17th century.
- German - which served as a lingua franca in large portions of Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries in sciences (physics, chemistry and sociology) and politics and especially in the area of business.
- Tupi - now-extinct. Served for a time as the lingua franca of Brazil.
- Spanish - replaced Latin as the language of diplomacy and culture during the 16th and early 17th centuries. It was eventually replaced by French.
- Swahili – used in large parts of Eastern Africa in spite of it being the mother tongue of a relatively small ethnic group on the East African coast and nearby islands in the Indian Ocean
- Hausa – used by 40 million, mostly Muslim, people in West Africa including northern Nigeria Niger Republic and Ghana. Hausa is a lingua franca in populations in much of West Africa, particularly south of Mali. Every city of any size in West Africa has a large centralized Hausa community, usually referred to as zango.
- Arabic - the ‘lingua franca’ of the Islamic Empire. Native to the people from the Arabian Peninsula, Arabic became the lingua franca of the Islamic Empire mainly because it was the language of the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book.
- Russian – used in areas formerly associated with the Soviet Union
- Hindi – used (along with English) in India
- Bislama – a form of “broken English” that were used in the Pacific Islands initially by the whalers and sandalwood loggers and reinforced by the English spoken by their overseers. This new form of Pidgin English eventually evolved into Bislama (Vanuatu), Tok Pisin (PNG) and Pijin (Solomon).
- Spanish – used (along with Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian) as the lingua franca of the United Nations.
- Esperanto – used as a constructed global languages since 1887 when L.L. Zamenhof published his treatise on it for the purpose of international communication. Today it is the most widely spoken artificial, constructed language, however, it has failed to become the envisaged global language
- French - working language at United Nations, Olympic Games. Still seen globally on documents ranging from passports to airmail letters. For example – poste restante (French, trans. post which remains), par avion (French, trans. By Air)
- English - as previously stated, is considered the current lingua franca of Western international business and is gradually displacing French in diplomacy. It is the lingua franca of air traffic and maritime control as it is for organisations like the United Nations, Olympics and Council of Europe.
- Mandarin Chinese – used to provide a common spoken language between speakers of different and mutually unintelligible Chinese dialects.
|Photo source #6 – www.wikimedia.org – Chinese Linguistic Groups|
|Photo Source #2 www.arago.si.edu/ British Empire|
There was a time when the British Empire encompassed 25% of all countries in the world. Naturally the English took their language with them as they colonized each country.
|Photo source #3 – www.arago.si.edu – Hollywood|
For the latter part of the 20th century America lead the world in many fields and has exported that advantage along with the English language to all parts of the planet in the form of entertainment (music and television), business (Coca Cola, McDonald’s, IBM, General Motors, and Boeing) financial markets (American dollar influences all the money markets of the world), computers (Microsoft, Intel) not to mention Hollywood that since 1906 has been exporting the English language to anyone with a TV or access to a cinema and more recently – a computer.
|Photo Source #5 – www.iep.ucr.edu – Global English|
Here are some factors that are contributing to English being chosen by the vast majority of learners as the global language:
- The current dominance of the English language in learning and communication content on the internet (75%)
- The dominance of English in the recent wealth creating industries of computer and information technology
- It was and still is the language of the developed Western nations that the developing world wishes to do business with.
- It is based on the Roman alphabet which is already the most widely used alphabet in the world today, and is shared by many disparate and seemingly unrelated languages.
- It is the official communication in Olympic sport, air-traffic and maritime control.
- It is one of the six official languages of the U.N., and, along with French, one of the two working languages
- English is the sole working language of most UN bodies which is influenced heavily by the fact that UN headquarters, and the majority of UN bodies, are based in the United States.
- All of the world’s major scientific journals are published in English.
- It is easy to learn, because it has less grammar to learn than its rivals and its relative simplicity of conjugation of verbs.
- It is used as an official language of the Council of Europe and is used for daily work and official statements.
- English has no state-controlled regulatory authority monitoring its use. It is an inclusive language that borrows from all others which allows it to easily morph into the vernacular of the age.
- It is one of the working languages of the European Commission.
- It is the predominant language in the publishing industry, which allows authors writing in English to have a much better chance of translation than those writing in other tongues.
- It usually affords better job prospects and ensures full enjoyment of English entertainment in the forms of music, film and literature.
NEW FLASH …..
|English Word Count 10 June 2009|
I million English word vocabulary – according to Paul JJ Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor.
|Origins of words in the English language|
The graph here shows the areas of influence on the language we today call English. It is a computerised survey of about 80,000 words, taken from the old Shorter Oxford Dictionary (3rd ed.). It was published in the Ordered Profusion by Thomas Finkenstaedt and Dieter Wolff (1973).
Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum;
Si þin nama gehalgod to becume þin rice gewurþe ðin willa on eorðan swa swa on heofonum.
urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us todæg and forgyf us ure gyltas swa swa we forgyfað urum gyltendum and ne gelæd þu us on costnunge ac alys us of yfele soþlice. (Corpus Christi College MS 140, ed. Liuzza (1994))
Oure fadir that art in heuenes, halewid be thi name;
thi kyndoom come to; be thi wille don in erthe as in heuene:
gyue to us this dai oure breed ouer othir substaunce;
and forgyue to us oure dettis, as we forgyuen to oure gettouris; and lede us not in to temptacioun, but delyuere us fro yuel.
Our father which art in heauen, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdome come. Thy will be done, in earth, as it is in heauen. Giue vs this day our daily bread.And forgiue vs our debts, as we forgiue our debters.And lead vs not into temptation, but deliuer vs from euill:
For thine is the kingdome, and the power, and the glory, for euer, Amen. (word-for-word reprint, Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Our Heavenly Father, may your name be honored;
May your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day the bread we need, Forgive us what we owe to you, as we have also forgiven those who owe anything to us.
Keep us clear of temptation, and save us from evil.
In Postmodern English – Globish 2009, English codified by Jean-Paul Nerriere
Our Father, Who comes to us from above, Your name is holy.
Your rule will soon be here, Your will, will be executed, in this world, and in the above as well,
Give us today the food we need everyday, And forgive what we do wrong, As we will also forgive the other persons who do wrong to us,
Do not lead us to have bad desires, But, free us from all that is evil,
For you are the ruler of the above, and you are the power, and highest honour for ever and ever. Amen.
One of the key findings in David Graddol’s research into the future of English (“English Next”), is that the language is certainly in transition … but transition to what?
- Write to make it easy to translate (for humans and machine) – Be especially careful with your questions – Avoid the negatives – include glossaries & vocabulary meaning lists.
- Brevity - Use short simple sentences with a limited vocabulary (850 -1,500 words) – Make the main point clear – One idea per sentence.
- Emphasize clarity - Removal all idioms (an expression that does not mean what it literally says) – Reduce confusion and anxiety – Say exactly what you mean – use simple words that describe objects, actions or emotions – use active voice as the default.
- Avoidance of technical language – Avoid buzzwords, euphemisms, and unexplained acronyms. Avoid slang and overtly single cultural concepts.
- Attitude of inclusiveness for Non-Native Speakers of English – simplify grammatical structure. Avoid contexts that could be interpreted as insulting, embarrassing or shameful – Avoid intimidating your readers of limited English. Beware of false friends (same word but different meaning in two languages). Write to enhance your reader’s learning not your ego
|John R. Kohl|
There are a few authors that have taken it upon themselves to provide specific tips for those wanting to write Global English for the emerging market of 2nd language English readers. Three that have documented their efforts include:
- Martin A. Schell – Website – American Services in Asia.
- “The Global English Style Guide: Writing Clear, Translatable Documentation for a Global Market” By: John R. Kohl
- “Global English for Global Business” by Rachel McAlpine (2005). Wellington: CC Press. ISBN 0-476-01386-0.
- Keep your sentences short. (i.e. a maximum of 16 words for instruction manuals and 20 for business documents).
- Try to start every sentence with a word or phrase that means something. (i.e. Reduce the number of sentences that start with phrases like ‘It is’ and ‘There are’)
- Ask one question at a time. Keep the question simple. (i.e. Are you an Australian citizen?)
- If you need to use abstract nouns, make the sentence very short. (i.e. peace)
- Simplify syntax by reducing subordinate clauses and modifier phrases.
- Minimize the total number of compound nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in your sentences.
- Be clear even when you need to be indirect.
- Be absolutely clear when using the mood helping verbs (i.e. may, might, should, can, could, must or will)
- Reduce the number of miniwords per sentence to less than 33% of the total words ( i.e. miniwords like get, go. lot, by, for, it, he. the, a, of)
- Don’t include negative words (i.e not), implications (i.e. unless) and feelings (i.e. reject)
- If you use a pronoun ,check that your meaning is obvious and not ambiguous (i.e. it, he, him, his, she, her, hers, they, them, their, theirs, this, these, that, those)
- Get to know the words in your field that are identical but have multiple meanings, differences between Britain and USA differences and have totally different meanings in other languages (The Cambridge International Dictionary of English lists these words as ‘False Friends’.)
- Better to split a sentence and repeat a key word than use ‘which’ in a potentially ambiguous way.
- Avoid the other ambiguous words like ‘While’, ‘since’, ‘as’ and ‘whilst’ because they each have several different meanings.
- Express an action as a verb rather than as a gerund (a verb expressed as a noun, by usually adding -ing to the verb – i.e. “printing”)
- Use active and passive voices judiciously.
- Eliminate wordy clichés (i.e. in terms of), colloquial expressions (i.e. come off it), phrasal verbs (i.e. put up with)
- Don’t include ‘double negatives’. (i.e. ‘not unusual’ can mean ‘very unusual’ to global English readers)
- Don’t use idioms or at least explain them fully. (i.e. ‘by the book’)
- In situations that call for nuance, subtlety, or finesse, make sure that your indirect statements are clear statements:
- Don’t write any paragraph longer than ten lines Long paragraphs and vary their lengths.
- Use left aligned rather than fully justified text
- Make sentences overlap so that they support each other and produce a clear context for all of the paragraph’s ideas.
- Restate some of your key ideas using different terms
- Use frequent headings as signposts for the reader
- Create visual relief with the occasional use of bullet points.
- Keep the average words per line at between 10-13.
- Break up continuous text with headings, tables, blank lines or short lists of bullet points.
- Avoid printed watermarks, or any other device that distracts from the text.
- Number rather than bullet point and keep the lists to 6 points or less
- Separate graphics from text with white space.
- Leave generous space above headings, for example two blank lines.
- Leave a complete line between paragraphs rather than indent paragraphs.
- Set generous margins of at least 3 cm all round to counteract variations in paper size with international faxes.
- Make sure the space between lines is at least 120% of the height of the words.
- Don’t use fancy fonts or narrow versions of conventional fonts – for on-screen use Verdana, Trebuchet MS, or Georgia.
- Use a maximum of two fonts per document.
- Avoid underlining, caps and italics .
- Do emphasize words by using bold and larger font sizes.
- Use a font size of at least 12 point.
- Always write the month in full (i.e. 3 February 2009)
- Always write complete phone and fax numbers (i.e. +64 4 189 7016)
- Be consistent in the way you write numbers
- Include the country before the currency value (i.e.US$100.00)
- Mark off thousands (i.e. 1 000 000 or 1,000,000).
|Photo Source #4 – www2.hawaii.edu – Global Map|
The economic and social benefits of a global language has been recognized for centuries but it has never happened. This is most probably because of the unwanted cultural and political baggage that accompanied attempts by authorities in the past to bring it about.