Globish --- English Simplified
August 10, 2017 2:01pm CST
Why do people all over the world feel the need for a lingua franca? They want to communicate, they want to be able to do business with each other. They certainly don’t want to master English so that they can read Shakespeare plays in the original. At least the overwhelming majority doesn’t. This has led to a simplification of grammar rules and vocabulary and to a language free of allusions, quotations, sayings, puns and jokes. The Frenchman Jean-Paul Nerriére, a retired IBM executive noticed in the 1990s that non-native English speakers understood each other much better than non-native speakers understood native speakers and vice versa. Instead of, say, ‘niece’ they use ‘the son of my brother/sister’, instead of ‘oath’ they say ‘word of honour’ etc. Two fewer words to learn! Nerriére compiled a vocabulary of 1.500 words, enough to communicate with anybody regardless of their mother tongue. It’s basic or essential English but contains all the necessary terms of our digital age. This non-native English is also called ‘decaffeinated English’. It quenches the thirst but hasn’t got spark. The site (www).globish.com introduces Monsieur Nerriére and his concept - you can click on a video and hear him talking - and offers books on Globish for learners with different first languages. A special service is also advertised, namely to help rewrite any text in Globish. “Not sure if your text is Globish compatible? Our Globish Word Scanner highlights any non-Globish words in red so that you can rewrite your text.” This is the point where Globish may be useful for native speakers of English, too. If you write an article and want it understood worldwide, you should scan it to find out which words are not included in the 1.500 word list of Globish and then substitute them with simpler expressions. Globish may not be rooted in the British or American cultural heritage any more, but it can’t be denied that it stems from there. This is the reason why some people are against it and propagate a completely artificial language like, say, Esperanto which is composed of elements of different languages and doesn’t prefer just one. Some artificial languages are already quite old, Esperanto, for example, was invented at the end of the 19th century. But obviously they aren’t serious contenders for Globish. The opponents of unifying languages claim that cultural diversity will suffer and maintain that preserving cultural diversity is as important as preserving biodiversity. The funny thing is that native speakers are excluded from Globish. If you haven’t learnt to *listen* to your mother tongue, you don’t know how many figures of speech, images, metaphors, puns, proverbs etc. you use. You may think that you can speak in a simple way and be convinced that even foreigners with a limited knowledge of English can understand you, but that isn’t the case. You just don’t know which words are ’simple’ for a foreigner and which are to be avoided or rather substituted by simple synonyms. My English is far above Globish (I scanned this text and found that I would have to substitute quite a lot of words). Yet, after teaching it as a second language to foreigners for 40 years I can adapt to any standard because I know where the difficulties are. I’m glad, however, to be able to understand and use all the ingredients that must be omitted to simplify it and make it a means of universal communication. I wouldn’t want to miss the joy of getting a pun or even using one myself.
23 people like this
Is that the Simple English you get as option on Wikipedia? Much better than Esperanto, definitely. Language changes through the years and centuries, the English we speak today wasn't the same centuries ago. Globish might be "the English of future" or maybe not, it's up to us: our words are law, we speak, we decide. In the meanwhile, "Sorry, I do not understand what you mean. Can you please repeat in an easier way?" is 100% Globish and can be used against Classic English.
8 people like this
As I've written, you often don't get a good answer if you ask a native speaker to repeat something 'in an easier way'. People who haven't studied their native language don't realise the different levels of speech. What they think is 'easy' may even be more difficult than the original version. Globish won't be the language of the future among native speakers as long as there will be literature. Literature thrives on everything that's eliminated from Globish. Yet, it may well become the language of international business and politics - if it isn't already. You can check your level of English by going to the site I've mentioned and letting Globish check a longer text of yours.
@MALUSE I checked my last three discussions and had a few words in red, the most being in the poem, but that was expected. It could be a huge loss of time, but if the non-native keeps on repeating "please explain again with other words" they should get to the point the communication becomes effective. Yes, written language is what created History, therefore it'll be always there. Then there's that subtle difference between spoken and written language, the former being simple (or full of slangs) most of the time and it affects modern and future literature. But "ancient literature" won't be lost, unless people forget how to read or all books and digital memory devices* self-ignite all by sudden. *Not just books and literature, it can apply to music lyrics and films/movies too.
Globish hasn't been invented for cultural purposes. It won't be the language of the future among native speakers as long as there will be literature. Literature thrives on everything that's eliminated from Globish. Yet, it may well become the language of international business and politics - if it isn't already.
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
@MALUSE I don't doubt that, but I suspect that "simple communication" will make us believe we understand one another when in reality we don't. I think globalization creates a need to understand each other on a deeper level culturally than any simplified language will allow.
@maluse This doesn't please me at all. Every language has its own delicious taste and ought not be diluted or polluted. Of course I only appreciate this having learned other languages in all their complexities, and learning Irish now is a pure delight even though it tortures the logical mind.
Obviously, I haven't explained things well. Several members have reacted in the same way. Globish is not meant to substitute 'real' English. It was invented for business purposes and simple communication. Better to have it than to misunderstand each other. Foreigners can always go on and learn the 'real' language if they feel like it.
• French Polynesia
My mom was an American and native speaker. I grew up speaking French and English. Mostly French because we lived in France. In our home my dad made us all speak English for my mom. So when I went to America I sort of had a heads up on how they spoke. It was strange for a few months, but then it sort of fell into place. Now that I haven't been back in so long I have lost a lot of my ability to decrypt the ways of the English. I am planning on going there next year so I will see what happens. Maybe I will be totally lost all over again. Who knows.
I am surely going to check the site Globish. I have noticed that too many times when you ask people (speaking a language different from yours) to repeat, they repeat exactly without changing a word, this especially in the United States. Same speed, same words, same accent, this does not help, so the idea of Monsieur Nerriére is interesting and an intelligent approach to solve language problems.
• United States
Many times when dashing off a reply here on myLot I realize that something I have said probably makes no sense to others. Oddly, I never considered that anyone would read a Shakespeare play in anything other than the original (although I have read a French version of El Cid, so I guess, to borrow a line from Cole Porter, "anything goes.")
Shakespeare isn't easily understandable even to young native speakers of English. Imagine the difficulties for foreigners! I used to read Macbeth in the original with my German pupils in the last class of secondary grammar school. One reason for choosing this play was that it is short. There isn't so much spiel - difficult to understand but 'signifying nothing'.
• Manchester, England
I could probably lower my command of English in order to make it simpler to follow, but after a lifetime it is instinct to converse at a certain level. Of course, the greater the command of English and the more precisely you can communicate your thoughts, but sadly the less people will understand.
• Riga, Latvia
Thanks for sharing. Interesting site. When I gave private English lessons here I always too English language material from the Internet. This is one site I didn't know about. However now my private teaching business no longer thrives. Everyone has gone off to work in foreign countries and know enough English.
Nice! I heard about Esperanto, and Memrise app teaches it, but never heard of Globish! I like the concept. I also like the service for turning articles into Globish. Now if only we could also solve the different accent issues. I had more hard time with English speakers in Pakistan than the Urdu ones.
• United Kingdom
If it helps business men communicate better then hopefully it is to be applauded, All our languages are changing and not always for the better. If you listen to some very old BBC news readers the standards are quite different to what we have today!
• Genova, Italy
This Globish, I think, would be useful for us in Europe. Unlike the United States, we have united every value with EURO (and the worst results, have been seen!), But not the language. However, I think it is impossible for us Europeans to unify everything in one universal language. But until now, I've never heard of that Globish. This could revolutionize the language of the future? Thanks for the tip