January 25, 2009

"Don't Speak English, Parlez Globish," says Jean-Paul Nerriere.

"Globish has only 1,500 words and users must avoid humour, metaphor, abbreviation and anything else that can cause cross-cultural confusion. They must speak slowly and in short sentences. Funnily enough, he holds up the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as an excellent exponent. Many in France consider Monsieur Nerriere a traitor for promoting the dreaded Anglais, but he insists he is not. He says the French have to recognise that the language war is lost. 'We're just urinating on the ashes of the fire,' he says. We should look on Globish not as a triumphant cultural vehicle for les Anglo-Saxons, but as a tool, he says..."

Oh, just surrender.

19 comments:

Simon said...

"Oh, just surrender."

You'd think the French would be better at it, given how much practice they've had.

rhhardin said...

There's no need to avoid metaphor. The poetic annex to Basic English has already been worked out.

Scroll down to verse.

..dawn, delight, dew, dove, dream..

The Crack Emcee said...

Here's one, provided by my partner-in-crime, Joseph Nigro:

For Sale

French Army Rifle:

>Never Fired

>Dropped Twice

Tibore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tibore said...

Wait... I withdraw my above joke comparing this to Esperante. What the heck is this writer trying to say "Globish" really is? Sounds to me like it's just a really, really restricted subset of English.

George Grady said...

It sounds to me like an English-based pidgin. Not the first time this sort of thing has happened, won't be the last.

Kev said...

From the linked story:
Also the provocatively-named Paris band Nelson

So that's where Ricky's kids have been all these years...

(it is the Admiral, not Mr Mandela, that they have in mind) whose frontman J.B. sings in English because, he says, French does not have the right cadences for true rock.

I've never heard rock in French, but I was quite intrigued by rap in German on a trip to Switzerland a while back.

fcai said...

That kind of language appears all over the interwebs, the funny part is, the writers thought they were writing standard English.

Secret said...

It's called a pidgin, and it's not new.

Simon said...

It's all so futile, is the thing that gets me. There is already an international language: English. It may be an accident of history that it ended up that way, but it certainly has a richness that deserves it. Bill Bryson has an excellent book, Mother Tongue, that makes the case well.

traditionalguy said...

GBS pushed this too. In My fair Lady(Pygmalian) the Professor and friend also seek to break the language barrier to social acceptance, only to discover that more speech dialects divides people. I for one would like to see the Mohammedans give up their memoized Koran in favor of this Globish, but that will happen about as fast as Americans give up their right to bear arms. The Mullahs know that their mind control power comes straight from the Koran's words as written.

mydismalswamp said...

If your gonna insist on speaking French then you can just go to South Louisiana. English may be the universal language of bidness, but if your in da market for de crawfishes den you can do yourself well in dat local. Spell'n ain't even quired. Jus stomach da coffee yea mon. Bidness is as bidness does, de real language is money, no!?

The Crack Emcee said...

"I've never heard rock in French, but I was quite intrigued by rap in German on a trip to Switzerland a while back."

Most French rock sucks, I mean just awful, but, you're right, rap in German can be exhilarating. Check out a band called "Agro Berlin." They were doing some pretty good stuff when I was last there.

Funny story:

One time, when I was in Luxembourg, the local McDonald's didn't have cream for the coffee ("We don't have - what do you want?" is a phrase I never got used to over there) so I went across the street to a supermarket to get some, and they were playing some of the most extreme rap I'd ever heard - in english - over the speaker system. It was wild, being amongst all these old people, going about their day and not noticing these militant black guys yelling, "Fuck you, Bitch - you motherfucking ho - I'll kill yo ass now, so yo ass can't go!" at them. I was cracking up.

The French thought Eamon's profanity-laden hit, "I don't want you back," was a love song because of the music. When I told them what he saying, and why, they were aghast.

gbarto said...

Restricted vocabulary, avoidance of complex sentences, avoidance of jokes, metaphors to avoid cultural confusion...

Isn't this what our high schools are teaching already? Glad they've given it a name.

Seneca the Younger said...

RH Hardin already gave the game away. This is really nothing much but Ogden's idea of Basic English. He started with 850 words, which give a functional, if kinda weird, language capable of saying most anything. See the Basic English Institute for more. Voice of America uses Special English, which has a specialized 359-off word vocabulary, but it more or less specialized to convey international news.

I think the big difference here is that by calling it "Globish" it loses the dred E-word.

Beth said...

It's a pidgin, as a couple of people have pointed out. Pidgin is what happens a few or more different language speakers meet and have to conduct business. One explanation, supported by examples in the OED, defines "pidgin" as "business" pronounced by a non-native English speaker. So pidgin English is business English - globish.

The article asks at the end what the future of English would be if "globish" takes off. Stupid question.

Michael H said...

*curmudgeon on*
The deterioration of the American public school system began on the day when Latin was dropped form the curriculum.
*curmudgeon off*

Brian Barker said...

I live in London and if anyone says to me “everyone speaks English” my answer is “Listen and look around you”. If people in London do not speak English then the whole question of a global language is completely open.

The promulgation of English as the world’s “lingua franca” is unethical and linguistically undemocratic. I say this as a native English speaker!

Unethical because communication should be for all and not only for an educational or political elite. That is how English is used internationally at the moment.

Undemocratic because minority languages are under attack worldwide due to the encroachment of majority ethnic languages. Even Mandarin Chinese is attempting to dominate as well. The long-term solution must be found and a non-national language, which places all ethnic languages on an equal footing is long overdue.

An interesting video can be seen at http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=_YHALnLV9XU Professor Piron was a former translator with the United Nations

A glimpse of Esperanto can be seen at http://www.lernu.net

david said...

You can read a couple of chapters of the real thing -- IN Globish -- in the new book Globish The World Over now at Globish.com or read reviews at Eyrolles publishers.