i read this post on thestar.com, on simplified english....an interesting read...indeed.
Parlez vous Globish? Probably, even if you don't know it
A Frenchman's quixotic attempt to build an empire based on the global dialect dubbed `English-lite'
Mar 07, 2009 04:30 AM
Lynda Hurst (Feature Writer)
Do you speak Globish? No?
Think again: If your English is limited, but you know enough for the business you're in and your contacts around the world, you almost certainly do without realizing it.
Fear not, Globish (Globe-ish) isn't another Esperanto. It's a form of simplified English that non-native English speakers from different countries use with each other to surmount linguistic barriers. "English-lite," as it's been called, has become the global dialect of the global village, spoken and emailed daily by multiple millions of people who can't otherwise communicate with each other.
"Anglophones no longer own English," says Jean-Paul Nerrière, the man who coined the term. "It's now owned by people in Singapore, Ulan Bator, Montevideo, Beijing and elsewhere."
Stating the obvious? Yes. But the situation isn't that simple.
When the English used by a person in one country, Venezuela, say, doesn't match up with the version used by his counterparts in Copenhagen or Kuala Lumpur, they risk costly confusion and mistakes. As Nerrière puts it: "If you lose a contract to a Moroccan rival because you're speaking an English that no one apart from another Anglophone understands, then you've got a problem."
Voilà, Nerrière's decision to draw up rules of usage so that everyone everywhere is on the same Globish page. Given the disdain most French hold for the dominance of English today in everything from trade to tourism, it's ironic that it's a Frenchman who's trying to systemize a "decaffeinated" version of it. But Nerrière insists the rise of Globish is strictly a utilitarian, not a cultural, triumph for English.
The story began 20 years ago, when Nerrière was vice-president of international marketing at IBM in the U.S. At conferences with colleagues from around the world, he noticed the shop talk was always in a form of distorted English. He, a Frenchman, could talk to a Korean and Brazilian and each understood the other. The British and Americans, meanwhile, were sidelined, their English too subtle or complicated for the others to grasp.
Nerrière concluded that a new type of English was evolving, one used by people as a means to an end, rather than as a second language. He dubbed it Globish, or Global English.
The more he examined the phenomenon, the more he realized that it was this, not the rich and complex English language in full, that was becoming the planet's true global lingua franca.
Nerrière had always been fascinated by the history of English and, when he retired in the late 1990s, decided to create a dictionary. While English has about 680,000 words, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, he chose only the 1,500 he believed were actually needed.
Most can be combined or modified – care becomes careful, caring, careless and so on – which actually brings 5,000 words into play. Only six verb tenses are used, not the dozen-plus routinely used by native speakers.
In 2004, Nerrière published Don't speak English, Parlez Globish, and a year later, a handbook, Discover Globish, both of which have been translated from the original French into Korean, Italian and Spanish, though not yet English.
Unlike "proper" English, which takes years to learn ("a lifetime," insists Nerrière), Globish takes six months because "it isn't a language," he says in heavily accented English from his home in Provence. "It will never have a literature, nor does it aim to."
Globish isn't about culture or values, but practical, efficient communication: "It's simply a tool, hence needs only a limited investment to master it. It might not be always elegant, but it serves its purpose."
A word such as "siblings," for example, didn't make the dictionary cut. In Globish, you'd say (rather more cumbersomely) "the other children of my mother and father." Chat becomes "speak casually to each other;" kitchen, the "room where you cook food." Instead of writing that "Globish is the gateway to global conversation," it would be "Globish helps you talk to people from other countries." Both are correct, but the latter easier to understand for someone whose mother tongue isn't English.
Nerrière realized that for even greater effectiveness, Globish required codification, a formal set of rules to make it consistent in all parts of the world.
Essentially, it uses standard English grammar. But he urges speakers to talk and write in short sentences and to avoid humour, metaphor, abbreviation, idioms and clichés, all of which can cause cross-culture misunderstanding. And "because communication isn't solely language," he says hand gestures, body language and facial expressions should all be employed when talking person-to-person or making a presentation.
The advice goes for native English speakers too, the voluble Nerrière stresses.
"The burden is on the person who is making the communication, which may come as news to many Anglos. But these days, they must evaluate the English of those they're talking to, whether in Denmark or Tokyo or Istanbul, and adapt their own use of the language."
Globish isn't the first stab at a stripped-down English. Back in the 1930s, two Englishmen created an 850-word Basic English for use throughout the British Empire. Problem was, it contained no verbs. It never took off.
Since the end of World War II, the rise of a "world-English" has been inevitable, says Jack Chambers, a University of Toronto linguist. Recording that fact is hardly original, "but if Nerrière is formally codifying it, then Globish will gain status. This is a new thing and very interesting."
Chambers says the ancient Romans spoke Latin for 500 years before anyone wrote the first grammar (actually a 25-volume set of rules) in 43 BC. That event changed how the language was used. English was in use long before Samuel Johnson formalized the lexicon in 1755 with the first English dictionary.
Nerrière's concept is now starting to expand. He wants to link up simple online Globish courses with a U.S. project called One Laptop Per Child, which aims to get a computer into the hands of the world's poorest children. Why shouldn't they learn Basic English at the same time, he asks?
Globish Solutions Inc., the recently created business arm, has offices in Paris, Vancouver, Seattle and soon, it's hoped, Hong Kong. Plans call for an International Globish Institute with centres at various universities, including in Beijing. China, predictably, is a major target market.
The prototype for a 26-week "Globish in Globish" interactive learning course, currently completing testing, will be available online this spring. (All teaching is via the Internet, not the classroom.) The course starts with 350 words, with 44 new ones added each week.
Vancouver-based Christian Jud, the German-Swiss CEO of the company and also an IBM veteran, is developing a cellphone course for Hispanic immigrants to North America. He says Globish principles are already being taught at a university in South Korea and at the multinational consulting company Capgemini, in Paris. Talks are also underway with the Indian government.
"In India, only the elite speak English, but they have 180,000 people in the retail industry, all speaking different dialects," says Jud. "So we'll develop a course for them that is retail-specific."
When it's suggested that Globish isn't a particularly attractive name to the Anglo ear, Jud merely laughs. "We don't care what Anglos think. They can say, `Oh, the whole idea is garbage.'
"We know it isn't."