Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Speaking tongues in English

Culture : Culture Reviews
How English Is Evolving Into a Language We May Not Even Understand
By Michael Erard

Any language is constantly evolving, so it's not surprising that English, transplanted to new soil, is bearing unusual fruit. Nor is it unique that a language, spread so far from its homelands, would begin to fracture. The obvious comparison is to Latin, which broke into mutually distinct languages over hundreds of years — French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian. A less familiar example is Arabic: The speakers of its myriad dialects are connected through the written language of the Koran and, more recently, through the homogenized Arabic of Al Jazeera. But what's happening to English may be its own thing: It's mingling with so many more local languages than Latin ever did, that it's on a path toward a global tongue — what's coming to be known as Panglish. Soon, when Americans travel abroad, one of the languages they'll have to learn may be their own.

Michael Erard ( wrote about the spread of the Chinese language in issue 14.04.

This above item is the most 'digg' article according to my digg widget. With my interest in English language and current dilemma of still being mute in Korean having stayed here for more than a year to the consternation of my colleagues, I blog this article.

Well, in the first place English is a derivative of many languages itself it is but natural that it will evolve soon in what maybe be called "Panglish" as author Micahel Erard foresee.

Having been exposed and used to Philippine's own brand of English famously known as "Taglish" (Tagalog-English) it is the middle class English, I can't help but be disconcerted with "Konglish" Korean-English that I is beginning to cloud my native Taglish.

If in the Philippines we made English into "carabao" ( Carabao English, English of the less educated), here in Korea I consider they made it into a "mad cow" (sorry, just making pun with mad cow here sans the politics). I would guffaw when I read in English words in Korean and can't help but be amazed how words are pronounced in their Korean way. Example BUS: we pronounce it in Taglish as boos, in Konglish it becomes bus-soo. Of course there's lot more of them and words

With internet and technology, both are becoming source of new words. You google for research, you digg to social bookmark, you blog to write an on line-journal, you twitter or plurk to send a short message or micro blog and so many other new words.

English compared to an open source software will become more stable, relevant, dynamic and useful if an open community is allowed to make it as such.


Morningangel said...

Michael Erard's prediction is a very interesting one, although I wonder if it has a scientific basis. Some linguists currently hypothesize that all languages had a single origin and, subsequently, split into the thousands of languages we know today. In fact, linguists trace the root of a mother language by looking for a higher diversity of languages in a region. Higher diversity = Area of Mother Tongue (Older Language). In other words, the trend is for language to diversify, not to unify. Mr. Erard suggests, due to globalization, that humans may be reversing that trend. In America, I suspect that the trend is for MORE diversity. In our American neighborhoods, we hear many languages. These languages are not disappearing, but evolving into new forms. We also have a new generation of Americans who use 'text language.' Instead of typing out, "See you, later," they type "CU L8R." Instead of saying, "What's up?" they say "Sup?" You see and hear this new 'language' more and more in commercials and other public media.

Morningangel said...

I didn't understand the reference to 'mad cow' you made until eating my lunch and found a short article in the newspaper. I thought you might be interested in how this issue was reported in Wichita, KS (a small, American city).

More than 10,000 people rallied in central Seoul on Saturday night to protest beef imports from the United States, despite an announcement hours earlier that Seoul and Washington had agreed to restrict the shipments to allay South Koreans' concerns about mad cow disease.
Although the protest was smaller than a June 10 rally that drew at least 100,000 people, it indicated that President Lee Myung-bak had a long way to go before regaining public confidence.
American trade envoys agreed to restrict beef exports to cattle less than 30 months old, officials said earlier in the day. Younger cattle are considered to pose less risk of mad cow disease, a fatal brain illness that is sometimes transmitted to humans."