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What is Globish?


Globish is a term invented by a French business man, Jean-Paul Nerriere It describes the form English used as a lingua franca or common language between non-native speakers (L2s).  An Italian designer might communicate with his Japanese client in Globish, for example.

So that's English with an accent, then? And lots of mistakes?
Not necessarily. Many speakers of other languages use a more grammatically correct form of English than the average native speaker.

So L2s sometimes speak better English then L1s?

It depends what you mean by 'better'. One big advantage L1s generally have is a wider range of vocabulary. Steven Pinker has estimated that the average high school student has learned 60,000 words - far more than a second language learner (L2s) can usually acquire. As a result, communication between L2s tends to be characterised by a narrower, more formal vocabulary.


Are there other advantages for L1s?

The key one is a lack of shared cultural references: to television shows, consumer products, school experience etc.


Globish puts greater emphasis on clarity of expression, especially when conducting business or discussing technical or legal matters. 

Globish is not a very pretty word though, is it? 
Monsieur Nerriere concentrates on function and meaning is unconcerned if a word is 'ugly'. He is aiming for the linguistic equivalent of a budget airline: something that communicates a message in the simplest form. And the concept of Globish has gained academic respectability, with leading linguist Robert McCrum devoting a book to it.

But isn't most English still spoken between L1s?
Not according to David Graddol. In his survey for the British Council English Next, the majority of conversations in English across the world no longer involve someone speaking their first language.
International tourism is growing {around 763 million international travellers in 2004} but the proportion of encounters involving a native English speaker is declining. Nearly 75% of international travel involved visitors from a non-English-speaking country travelling to a non-English-speaking destination. This demonstrates the ... growing role for global English.
Interview with Robert McCrum on Globish here
Video of Jean-Paul Nerriere explaining Globish here:

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Comments

  1. Dr Mike Unwalla writes

    And the concept of Globish has gained academic respectability, with
    leading linguist Robert McCrum devoting a book to it.

    McCrum's book is not only about Nerrière's Globish. McCrum's book is mostly a history of the English language.

    > Global English puts greater emphasis on clarity of expression, especially when conducting business or discussing technical or legal matters.

    Yes. However, 'Globish' is only one version of clear English for
    international communication. Other simple versions of English are as
    follows:
    * EasyEnglish from Wycliffe Associates is used for Christian literature and for a simple version of the Bible
    (www.easyenglish.info/about-us/articles/communicator.htm).
    * Special English from Voice of America is used for radio broadcasts
    (www.voanews.com/learningenglish/about-us/).
    * Global English from SAS is used for technical documentation
    (http://support.sas.com/community/authors/authorline/2008/2_08/2_08b.html).

    Regards,

    Mike
    -------------------------------------
    Dr Mike Unwalla, MBCS CITP
    Principal Technical Writer
    TechScribe

    ReplyDelete

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