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#811 - 03/21/00 03:53 PM English as a Global Language  
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dianabouchard Offline
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I am a native English speaker living in Montreal, fairly competent in French and Spanish. As a Montreal resident, an employee of a research lab with a staff like a mini United Nations, and an active volunteer leader in a worldwide professional society, I have many occasions to talk with people whose first language is not English. My experience is that it requires a greater attentiveness on my part, not only to language but to references, images etc.
(not everyone knows the same pop singers, TV shows, and sports idols), but brings the great reward of insight into a whole other way of looking at the world. I also find that it engenders a certain humility and compassion (probably both healthy) to be reminded that expressing oneself in English is not as easy for everyone as it is for me. Of course, actually communicating *in* a foreign language, especially when one knows it less than perfectly, provides an even stronger corrective to one's feelings of superiority.

Diana Bouchard
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
dbouchard@paprican.ca



#812 - 04/02/00 10:35 PM Re: English as a Global Language  
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William Hofmeyr Offline
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This may be felt by non-L1 English speakers to be a somewhat dubious point, but for the L1 speaker it is far more difficult to acquire a working knowledge of other languages than it is for speakers of other languages to acquire at least some English: wherever the mother tongue English speaker goes, the probability is that people will have a better command of English than s/he will of the local language. Consequently, communication is more likely to take place in English than in the other language in question. The success of English has a price-tag for English speakers too: the greater likelihood of monolingualism and its attendant cultural myopia.



#813 - 06/29/00 09:35 AM Re: English as a Global Language  
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Nickee Offline
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I live in New Zealand. When I was in high school, it was compulsory for us to take French. I thought this was silly, because even then (early 1980s) English was fast becoming "The International Language". Of course, my school took no notice of my opinions and I learned French along with all the other 13 and 14 year olds.[br]
When I was 15, the first year in which we had any real choice of subjects, guess what was among my choices? French! By then I'd grown to love the language.[br]
I now am of the opinion that it's a great pity that English has ended up the default international language. It sure is handy for me personally, but on a purely experiential level, English has got to be one of the bluntest, least-appealing to listen to, languages there is. There are many languages (French among them) which are very soft, rounded, almost musical to listen to. Why couldn't the default language have been one of those......[br]
I am also saddened on a cultural level. Language -- and dialect -- is a huge part of the culture wherein it exists. The specific words, their frequencies, and the idioms, underpin the ideas and ideals which are important in a culture. If, in a hundred years, all the world speaks English and then possibly a second language (although, it is doubtful whether the other languages would survive in anything other than "niche" usage in such a scenario), the world will be a much poorer place. I sincerely hope this does not happen.[br]
I mention dialect above because, even though New Zealand speaks English, our two countries do have different dialects, and our cultures show up strongly even in that seemingly small difference. After all, it's still English.....[br]
Just my two cents.


#814 - 06/30/00 09:39 AM Re: English as a Global Language  
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Bingley Offline
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Jakarta
I remember somebody (I forget who, but perhaps an AWAD member can remind me) as saying something along the lines of Italian speakers must have a completely different experience of opera to the rest of us. Imagine all that high drama and passion and order in the same language as one uses to order a sandwich.

Bingley


Bingley
#815 - 06/30/00 06:05 PM Re: English as a Global Language  
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Jackie Offline
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Yup, ordering food in Italian can be dramatic, all right: vermicelli means "little worms". Perhaps Emanuela can offer
further tidbits.


#816 - 07/25/00 07:04 PM Re: English as a Global Language  
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tsuwm Offline
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this too shall pass
>Italian speakers must have a completely different
experience of opera to the rest of us.

don't feel too bad; you have the same advantage with Shakespeare.


#817 - 07/26/00 04:57 AM Re: English as a Global Language  
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emanuela Offline
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emanuela  Offline
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Italy - Perugia is a town with...
> Italian speakers must have a completely different experience of
opera to the rest of us. Imagine all that high drama and passion and order in the same language
as one uses to order a sandwich.
Well...it is not exactly the same language...In another thread William reminded us "E lucean le stelle" from Tosca: I can understand it, but I would never say it in this way : I would say "E le stelle brillavano" (And stars were shining).
Ciao
Emanuela
P.S.Jackie, when we say "vermicelli" we forget completely the meaning "little worms", we think just about big spaghetti. Incidentally, do you know that "spaghetti" means (small) strings?


#818 - 07/26/00 05:00 AM Re: English as a Global Language  
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Bingley Offline
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Jakarta
Actually, I was thinking of it more as a disadvantage. Wouldn't the quotidianity of the language for Italians detract from the high drama?

Bingley


Bingley
#819 - 07/26/00 05:09 AM Re: English as a Global Language  
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Bingley Offline
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Jakarta
Thanks Emanuela. Looks like our posts crossed.

Bingley


Bingley
#820 - 07/27/00 02:10 AM Re: English as a Global Language  
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Jackie Offline
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Emanuela, Hi!

I fervently hope you don't think of little worms!
Don't think I knew about the small strings.
I am partway through the Mother Tongue book--thanks to all
who lauded it so highly--I am loving it! Mr. Bryson says
there that there really is no "Italian" language as such,
that you-all really have several dialects.

Along the same lines (oh, I know I'm going to stir up the
rattlesnake nest with this one): as far as I am concerned,
Shakespeare did NOT write in English! I can read his words
but have not the foggiest idea of what he was saying.
I hate that! I understood Robbie Burns' Tam O'Shanter a
LOT more than I ever understood Shakespeare--even if I didn't know the exact meaning of every single word, I was
able to follow the action and general thread of the poem.
Shakespeare might as well have written in Greek for all I
understood of his meaning.


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