Thursday, May 13, 2010

Globish

Over the years I have come to the conclusion that I am not a linguist. I have a smattering of French I can use but no French person has ever felt it useful enough to continue talking in their own language once I begin.

By and large, around the world, English works. There was a heroic effort to construct a world language, reversing Babel, with Esperanto but it didn't really catch on.

Now I have read about a system that tries to take the fact of English's ubiquity and use it to create a world-wide language - Globish. The idea is that English be reduced to a core minimum of words from which all concepts and missing nouns can be constructed - thus, according to an article in the Observer, tomato becomes round red fruit and kitchen, room in which cooking takes place.

Follow this link to the list of 1500 words.

It would be interesting. My penchant for words such as ubiquity (and penchant) would have to be cured. And, of course, a certain clarity of sentence construction would be required. I think it might be beyond the wit of my Leamington window cleaner who didn't know 15 words of English and would greet me with:

orroiwinderscaniavsum wa'er nowarreye mean?

Translations available on request.

6 comments:

Mike Unwalla, TechScribe said...

@St: The idea is that English be reduced to a core minimum of words from which all concepts and missing nouns can be constructed

The core words of Globish are not sufficient. Nerrière explains that you also need domain-specific terms.

Some of Nerrière's Globish guidelines are good. However, for my criticisms of Globish, see http://www.techscribe.co.uk/ta/globish-the-world-over.htm.

@St: It would be interesting. My penchant for words such as ubiquity (and penchant) would have to be cured.

Simplified English is used successfully by some commercial organisations. For example, Voice of America uses Special English (http://www.voanews.com/specialenglish/about_special_english.cfm). Wycliffe Associates uses EasyEnglish for its Christian literature (http://www.easyenglish.info/about-us/articles/communicator.htm).

RuthJ said...

My commiserations to all those hoping for tomatoes in their salad and finding themselves chomping cherries.

Bill Chapman said...

I'm surprised at the throw-away comment that Esperanto "didn't really catch on." As I see it, Esperanto is remarkable success story. It is spoken and promoted by a grass-roots army of ordinary people, asking for no help from government.

I've just come home from the Brita Kongreso de Esperanto (British Esperanto Conference) in Llandudno, where people from at least ten nations used the language with ease to discuss a wide range of social matters. We even had a church service, with a sermon in the language by a methodist minister.

Globish? No, thanks. I'll stick with Esperanto.

St said...

I hear you Bill but I think you are suffering from assuming the particular leads to the general. The person bleeding after a mugging finds it hard to agree that the crime figures are down. A good small conference in Llandudno doesn't mean it has caught on. You'd probably be more successful in Globish than Esperanto almost anywhere in the world with a random stranger.

Brian Barker said...

You then just might as well say that English has "not caught on"

However it cannot be denied that during a short period of 122 years Esperanto is now in the top 100 languages, out of 6,800 worldwide, according to the CIA World factbook. It is the 22nd most used language in Wikipedia, ahead of Danish and Arabic. It is a language choice of Google, Skype, Firefox and Facebook.


Your readers may be interested in the following video. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8837438938991452670

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

St said...

Thanks. I love the way people not being attacked start defending themselves.