Monday, July 21, 2003

English as a "first" language?

Many of us have had the experience of having to speak English slooowly and care-full-ly to a non-native English speaker. I think most of us would believe that learning English as our first language qualifies us as the "best" speakers of English. Now that English has emerged as the de facto language of world business, we have a natural advantage over all those millions of competitors who speak it as a second language.

Or do we?

In this interesting article by Peter Krouse of the Newhouse News Service, the author offers evidence that many people who have learned English as a second language can understand each other better than they can native speakers, regardless of their first language. Apparently ESL teaching has produced a somewhat simplified form of English that transcends accents and the lack of idiomatic understanding. Those of us who don't know this new form of English may soon find ourselves unable to communicate effectively in multi-national situations.

Perhaps I should title this item "English (1) is not English (2)"?

Read the full article: Newhouse News Service

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