Saturday, July 5, 2008

Parlez-Vous Chinglish?

"Our goalie not here yet, so give chance, can or not?" In an essay for Wired on How English Is Evolving Into a Language We May Not Even Understand, Michael Erard wonders whether the many examples of "goofy" English in countries such as China are really bad English:
What if they are evidence that the English language is happily leading an alternative lifestyle without us? [...] English has become so successful across the world that it's escaping the boundaries of what we think it should be [...] Already, most conversations in English are between nonnative speakers who use it as a lingua franca.
Erard argues that "More and more spoken English will sound increasingly like Chinese," and that "Given the number of people involved, Chinglish is destined to take on a life of its own:"
  • Advertisers will play with it
  • It will be celebrated as a form of cultural identity
  • It will be used widely online, in movies, music, games, books
  • Someday, it may even be taught in schools
"Any language is constantly evolving, so it's not surprising that English, transplanted to new soil, is bearing unusual fruit," Erard writes, concluding, "Soon, when Americans travel abroad, one of the languages they'll have to learn may be their own."