Off topic: Which brand of English is spreading most?
Thread poster: Heinrich Pesch

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 23:56
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Dec 22, 2004

People all over the world are eagerly learning English. I wonder if it has been researched, what kind of English is actually learned, UK or US. Do they have transport or transportation in Beijing?

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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:56
German to English
BSE Dec 22, 2004

Bad Simple English (or: Badly Spoken English) is by far and away the fastest growing variant of English. Everywhere (including in the translation industry). And I wish I could add a to indicate that I find this amusing, but I don't.

Robin


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
No doubt about it Dec 22, 2004

RobinB wrote:

Bad Simple English (or: Badly Spoken English) is by far and away the fastest growing variant of English. Everywhere (including in the translation industry). And I wish I could add a to indicate that I find this amusing, but I don't.

Robin


Undoubtedly. And BSE is perfectly adequate when people wish to communicate orally or informally, but when someone claims to translate into English, when in fact what they write is BSE, that to my mind is nothing less than misrepresentaion.

Ah well....:-(


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Alexander Chisholm  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:56
Italian to English
+ ...
Certainly Dec 22, 2004

the funny (but unfortunately not humorous) thing though, is that the bad english eventually becomes institutionalised and accepted. After enough people making the same errors over a long enough period of time, it them becomes RBSE (received - BSE). And if you don't use RBSE, they assume that you are wrong!!

At least that is the case here in Italy, I don't know if it's quite the same in other countries.


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:56
Italian to English
Look on the bright side... Dec 22, 2004

Ailish Maher wrote:

Undoubtedly. And BSE is perfectly adequate when people wish to communicate orally or informally, but when someone claims to translate into English, when in fact what they write is BSE, that to my mind is nothing less than misrepresentaion.

Ah well....:-(


Look on the bright side, Ailish.

If there weren't any bad translators, customers wouldn't be able to see how good you are.

Cheers,

Giles


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 15:56
German to English
One opinion Dec 22, 2004

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

People all over the world are eagerly learning English. I wonder if it has been researched, what kind of English is actually learned, UK or US. Do they have transport or transportation in Beijing?


I don't know how reliable this statement is or when it was made, but according to Dr. Bernabe Feria, more people are learning the American brand than British English.

But I think it's fair to say that British English is taught in European countries and American English on this side of the pond.

I have been terribly dismayed at the almost illiterate level of writing I have seen from Americans with master's degrees in foreign languages. Our education system seems to have drastically deteriorated.

---
The world has changed over the past 20 years, and now the global demand is predominantly focused on learning American English. British English used to be the predominant form and style of English to study, due to its long history dating back to the times of British colonization. American movies, music, media, culture, products, celebrities and the overall American image, has attracted people worldwide to this language. American English has become the global language.

Note the following quote: "Most people who learn English want American English. At its 320 language centers worldwide, Berlitz gives some 5 million language lessons each year, 70 percent of which are for American English."
-Dr. Bernabe Feria
http://www.globaltesol.com/gen_faqs_whatistesol.htm


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:56
Italian to English
+ ...
US English is spreading fastest Dec 22, 2004

And even if people in Europe are taught British English, at least in Italy most of them write a mixture of both - the grammar is usually British (or just wrong!), but the spelling is a strange mixture (center and prioritize and sulfur, but then they'll stick in a "colour" just to confuse you).

And they have no idea of whether they're writing British English or American, or even what the differences are.

As Robin said, the fastest growing variant is undoubtedly Bad English. And in my opinion, the spoken variant Badly Spoken English is perfectly acceptable, given that the whole point of language is communication - if two conference participants, one (for example) Japanese and the other Italian, are able to understand each other using badly spoken English, that's fine!

Of course I don't advocate the same for written English, not because standards need to be kept up (although they do), but for the simple reason that if someone doesn't understand a written text, it's not normally possible to contact the author to find out what he means. So the text needs to be written (translated) clearly, comprehensibly and according to a set or sub-set of accepted standards, so that the reader should be able to resolve any comprehension difficulties by simply consulting a dictionary or grammar book.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
US EN in Europe Dec 23, 2004

Kim Metzger wrote:


But I think it's fair to say that British English is taught in European countries and American English on this side of the pond.





Maybe, but US EN is quite evident this side of the pond too:-)

To be honest, I get a bit upset when I sunbathe on Barceloneta beach and hear a sonorous voice - after the CAT, the ES and the FR - in US EN telling me to watch my belongings. US EN was also the official EN of the World Culture of Forums here in Barcelona, and is often heard in voice-overs in the media. How would a ES person feel if the Spanish used in some major exhibition in London was South American ES?

The world is becoming very uniform, the products and service we consume are/will be pretty much the same (if the globalisers get their way), but language diversity marks, even protects, individual cultures. I think that includes regional varieties of a language (country-Irish accents, which were really colourful and distinctive, have all by now evolved into a kind of mid-Atlantic variety of English), so I feel I should defend my kind of EN against the invasiveness of other kinds of EN in certain contexts.

I hope noone misunderstands me, it's just something I feel uncomfortable about, yet think we should be conscious of the invasiveness of dominant cultures and dominant languages.


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 15:56
German to English
Defending the language? Dec 23, 2004

Ailish Maher wrote:

but language diversity marks, even protects, individual cultures. I think that includes regional varieties of a language (country-Irish accents, which were really colourful and distinctive, have all by now evolved into a kind of mid-Atlantic variety of English), so I feel I should defend my kind of EN against the invasiveness of other kinds of EN in certain contexts.



You'd like to defend British and Irish English against American English and BSE, Ailish, and in each country where English is the national language, experts on writing (language mavens?) defend their own written language against barbarism. I think it's a valiant cause.

"We have long preserved our constitution," said Dr. Johnson more than two centuries ago, "let us make some struggles for our language."


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Ruxi
German to Romanian
+ ...
UK EN Dec 23, 2004

In my country (in Eastern Europe) we (at least my generation) learn/has learned British English, including British literature.
If you opened this interesting subject I want to make some remarks too:
1. You are judging very severe putting a label of Bad English. I don't know what kind of persons you met, but there is a difference between knowing a language and be able to translate of/into that language.
Then people have a different capacity to learn languages (as well as other stuff), so it does not come from teaching or teachers.
2. Nowhere it is written that a text is in American or British.
I think few people notice or understand the difference between the two kinds of English.
You are not told at school,or University what kind of English you are studying.No stress is put on this matter.
Not even the films on TV have a clear language, because many actors can be British in an American film and vice-versa.
Besides, in a bussines,in life, everywhere, it is important to use a basic language. Such differeneces are not made, or so I believe. Nobody is going to ask you what kind of English you speak, but if you speak English. And that is.
Now, someone with enough musical hearing, can notice when hearing somebody talking, if he is British or American and much more, where he comes from regarding UK (where a Londoner speaks different than one in Manchester).
The vocabulary is almost the same I believe, only the spelling may differ and a few words.This is the way I get it.Remember the song of Louis Armstrong?
3. It also depends on the region of the world:
I would like to know what kind of English are the Canadians speaking. They were a British colony, but they are so close to USA.
I assume Australian are speaking British? And some other African countries also British?
4. Probably nowadays,considering the most beloved stars and films, people (especially young people and children) tend to "Americanise" the language, i.e the pronunciation, but I am sure the grammar must be the same.
5. I really don't know why there is such a disscusion about the differences between these two languages. Where is such a difference necessary?
I believe there is a much deeper difference between the German languages (from Germany, Austria, Switzerland).
And above all, don't forget: UK English is the "mother" of the American one.In the US too there is initially British English, which has in time been damaged(this is the way I feel)and influenced by other colonists with their languages.
I do not intend to offend anybody, it is about history and not of people like you and me.
One more thing: important is people, speaking more or or less correct English, UK or US, have achieved to make connections all over the world. The whole world economy is based on them. Not to mention the social connections.It is one English for the world.

Merry Christmas,
Ruxi


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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 22:56
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Bad English Dec 23, 2004

Ruxi wrote:

1. You are judging very severe putting a label of Bad English. I don't know what kind of persons you met, but there is a difference between knowing a language and be able to translate of/into that language.
Then people have a different capacity to learn languages (as well as other stuff), so it does not come from teaching or teachers.


I think the point that Robin and the others were trying to make is that language quality is deteriorating across the board - even among "native" speakers of English. English grammar is no longer taught in schools in the UK, and this is having a major impact on higher education. My father (a university professor in Scotland) tells me that one of the major challenges the lecturers face every year is the new students' poor knowledge of English.

Just take a look at "Eats, shoots and leaves" (a brilliant book) for a host of examples of how English is suffering from poor usage.

FWIW

Alison


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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 22:56
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Exactly Dec 23, 2004

Alexander Chisholm wrote:

the funny (but unfortunately not humorous) thing though, is that the bad english eventually becomes institutionalised and accepted.


Just look at all the signs in shop windows offering

bananas' for 50p a pound

I mean where DID that apostrophe come from!!!

Alison


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:56
German to English
BSE redux Dec 23, 2004

Ruxi,

Nobody - I hope - is criticising people who have a poor level of conversational English; after all, it's better to have BSE than no English at all.

What I, at least, will not tolerate, though, is people whose command of English is actually at BSE level, but who claim (or even worse, believe) that they have an excellent or even perfect command of English. This applies as much to people writing texts in English (which then cause translators serious headaches) as to the appallingly large number of "professional" translators working from their native language into BSE. As far as I'm concerned: if you're being paid for a translation, you're either a native speaker or native speaker-equivalent. Just "having a go at it" does not form part of the translator profile.

In Germany anyway, we are faced with large number of non-native speakers of English at customers who think "they can English", and evidently feel duty-bound to mangle our translations - a process for which only German really has the appropriate term: Verschlimmbesserung. Similarly, a depressingly large proportion of our time is taken up rewriting bad translations (by the BSE translator brigade) sent to us for revision (though of course in most cases, we simply retranslate ab initio).

As Alison in particular has pointed out, though, BSE isn't restricted to non-native speakers. I would guess that around 50% or so of British/Irish applicants for our staff positions fail at the first hurdle because their command of English is simply awful. And we're talking about people here with MAs, or first-class BAs from top-flight universities. I know from academics in the UK that an almost total inability to communicate in one's native language (English) is no bar nowadays to being awarded a 1st class degree.



2. Nowhere it is written that a text is in American or British.
I think few people notice or understand the difference between the two kinds of English.


In into-English translation, of course, you always specify the "flavour" of English for the target text. Many well educated native speakers will, of course, understand the difference between various types of English, but I suppose that's too difficult for the BSE-challenged muppets being churned out by today's education system in countries like the UK (harumph).

To sum up: I don't think any of your native English-speaking colleagues will think for a second about criticising something like a forum posting written by somebody who evidently has problems with English (though we may need some clarification here or there). But I think most of use would object loudly to that same person actually translating into English. Fair enough?

Robin

[Edited at 2004-12-23 13:17]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 23:56
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It's a long history of language detoriation, I agree Dec 23, 2004

It all started when they were building the tower of Babylon...
Thank the Almighty however, bad language creates jobs for us.
But thank you all, especially Kim.
Probably it's true that the US flavor is spreading faster than UK, but probably we'll getting a mix of usage. Certainly I'll stick to lift instead of elevator.
What struck my mind is the question, is there a program that checks usage and is able to correct texts rather automatically from UK into US and vice versa. I know there is one for control of Finland Swedish vs. Sweden Swedish, which helps translators avoid cultural mixups.
Regards
Heinrich

[Edited at 2004-12-23 20:04]


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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:56
Italian to English
Institutionalised BSE Dec 23, 2004

I ask my Italian clients whether they want "European English" rather than "American English" to appeal to their Europhile instincts, though some, of course, are genuinely aiming at an American market.
Sandy's point about Bad English becoming institutionalised is a crucial one but I find it very difficult to criticise other Europeans for such errors when my fellow countrymen are so successful at mangling their own language.
Just one example: twenty five years ago an actor called Michael Crawford used the word "harass" as a catchword in a television sitcom, putting the emphasis on the second syllable - it was meant to be funny. Nowadays, it is obvious that even some of today's politicians and newsreaders failed to get the joke. Absolutely distressing!


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