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By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer.

Helen Hunt Jackson - September
The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts
Chrysanthemums.
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze.

John Updike, September
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English: Help or Threat?

[Ex Member][Ex Member] Posts: 363 ✭✭✭
English is a so-called 'global' language. Many people learn English today because it is useful to know, and not because they like it or want to learn it.

Some learners are jealous of or angry at English, because it is a 'global' language, and their own language is a 'small' or 'minority' language. The popularity of English makes them feel as if their own language is somehow not good enough.

Still others feel that their own language, and culture, might be corrupted or perhaps destroyed by English, and they make laws against the use of it, or give their children the feeling that English is a 'necessary evil'.

English is very useful to know, that's clear. But is it a threat to other, strong national languages REALLY? And should you learn something you don't like, or don't want to learn, simply because it could be useful one day?
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Comments

  • [Ex Member][Ex Member] Posts: 363 ✭✭✭
    Since this is in the "Your Writing" section, I'll be correcting your posts!
  • FrankFrank Moderator Posts: 5,937 mod
    edited March 16
    My country, the Netherlands, is a small country. It has 17,000,000 inhabitants. That appears to be a lot, but if you take the worlds population of 7,480,380,932 inhabitants into consideration, we have a very small country. However, when it's about the Dutch language not only people in the Netherlands speak Dutch. The Dutch language is spoken by about 23 million people in the European Union as a first language—including most of the population of the Netherlands and about sixty percent of Belgium—and it's spoken by another 5 million people as a second language.

    So our country is small and our language is sparsely spoken in the world. If we want to be taken seriously on the international market, we have to speak and understand other languages, especially English. The first time I got English lessons was in the first class of secondary school. These days children start to learn English on primary school and sometimes even at kindergarten. That means that children from the age of four years are beginning to understand a little English. I think that's a good idea because children more easilly adapt to a new language than adults.

    At the moment there are 130 bilingual high schools in our country. Most of the school subjects are taught in English by native speaking teachers. I think that’s a good thing too. This way the children get well prepared for university. At university most colleges are already given in English. Also the books are in English and all scientific research is worked out in English.

    More and more international businesspeople come to Holland to work. In quite a lot of companies in the Netherlands the main language is English.

    I joined this forum (and Duolingo) especially for my children. I read English with them, I watch English films with them, I do English games with them. This way I give them an advantage in English. They like it and they like to do English as a subject at school.

    I’m not afraid that the Dutch language will disappear because people speak English at school and at work. At home among families and friends Dutch will be the main language. We have a province (Friesland) in which people speak their own language (Fries) at home. The fact that they have to speak Dutch at school and at work hasn’t changed that for many years.
    Post edited by Frank on
  • [Ex Member][Ex Member] Posts: 363 ✭✭✭
    @Frank I've heard that the Dutch are the best non-native speakers of English in the world. They have the highest rate of fluent speakers of any nation and do more in the language than almost anybody else. The Netherlands is an exception, really!

    Have there been any complaints from schools about young people using English grammar or too many English words in their Dutch -- perhaps without realizing it? Or that students' ability to speak or write proper Dutch has gone down? I've noticed that many Dutch people don't know what is correct and what isn't in their own language -- they only know what they commonly say -- and two native speakers of Dutch can disagree on even the most basic points of grammar, both thinking they are correct.
  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 26,975 mod
    I'm not sure if I have met anyone who is resentful about learning English @Larry_the_Zebra except maybe some French - but shock, horror, even the French are learning English now! All over Asia now, the standard of English is improving dramatically by the day. Of course in some countries it is taught mainly just by reading and writing so students miss out on being able to practice speaking or listening. This means they are sometimes very shy to speak and even claim that they don't know any English when asked. Invariably though, once you gain their trust, they can communicate without too many problems.
  • [Ex Member][Ex Member] Posts: 363 ✭✭✭
    @mheredge I used to teach EFL to adult learners in Germany and the Czech Republic. There is a LOT of resentment from adults in those countries about learning English. I taught in businesses most often, and I'd be really rich if I only had a penny for each of the students who told me 'Why do I have to learn English? I don't like English and I don't want to spend my free time having to learn something I don't like and frankly I don't need. But our boss demands it, so I'm here"

    Yes, the French are learning English, but it seems at gunpoint. I know a French lady who is a tutor for English in Bordeaux and she says that about half of the school kids she is hired to teach tell her 'I don't like English. It's boring and sounds funny. I don't like England and I don't ever want to go there.' The French adults, she says, feel as if they needed to have learned perfect English yesterday, but they don't have the time, talent nor real interest to do it today.

    In the Czech Republic, they feel as if they have constantly been overrun by foreign invaders who force their language on them. First the Germans, then the Austrians, then the Russians and now the English speakers. They've developed a very good resistance to learning languages over the centuries! It's a form of national defense. They understand enough of what you are saying to know if you mean them harm, but otherwise... speak Czech or don't speak!
  • FrankFrank Moderator Posts: 5,937 mod
    edited January 28
    Have there been any complaints from schools about young people using English grammar or too many English words in their Dutch -- perhaps without realizing it? Or that students' ability to speak or write proper Dutch has gone down? I've noticed that many Dutch people don't know what is correct and what isn't in their own language -- they only know what they commonly say -- and two native speakers of Dutch can disagree on even the most basic points of grammar, both thinking they are correct.
    @Larry_the_Zebra @mheredge There are more and more English words adapted in our language. E.g. job titles in companies are often English. Nowadays it's more common to be called a manager, a CEO or a CFO than a baas, a directeur or a financieel directeur. Films on Dutch television are often American and mostly they are subtitled in Dutch instead of dubbed. The same counts for some television advertisements. Product names are English and slogans are English. Some of these slogans aren't translated anymore. There's an increase in television advertisements that are completely in English and don't have subtitles anymore. It's taken for granted that all people of younger generations are able to speak English. Older people sometimes have difficulty with that. In the Netherlands there are also mostly English songs on the radio. In games it's not different. My children play English games and use the English terms when they talk about these. For example Thijn might say to Luuk: "jij had meer "damage" dan ik!"

    You are right that the proper use of Dutch grammar gets worse among youth. However, I don't believe that's because of the increase in the use of English language. I rather think this has to do with communication via social media, sms, WhatsApp, Twitter etc. Children want to write quickly and don't bother much about proper grammar. They often use abbreviations, often derived from English. Children from Thijn's school use abbreviations like WTF and PLOS (parents looking over shoulder) regularly.

    Aside from English there are other influences of foreign languages onto our language. In suburbs of Amsterdam, among others, the youth often speaks with each other in a language they call street language (straattaal). This language has influences and words from inhabitants of Dutch colonies and immigrants. The street language contains words from Surinam, Morocco, Turkey etcetera.

    Personally I don't mind that our language changes because of English influence. It's a living language. Probably we coundn't have understood people who lived 300 years ago properly. When I listen to news or documentaries that were broadcast fourty years ago I already notice that those people talked differently. In the future people will speak differently too. If thats because of English remains uncertain. With Brexit and with all the limitations Trump has in mind, we might embrace another second language.
  • takafromtokyotakafromtokyo Posts: 2,057 ✭✭✭✭
    Some global companies made it a rule that they use English as their company official language. Now, they force their workers to do discussions and make reports in English. If you want to work for those companies, you need to be able to understand and speak English at a certain level. Otherwise, you'll won't do well in the company or worse get fired. They have English tests for promotions.

    If all the comapnies in Japan that pays well follow those examples, students in the future will really need to work hard to improve their English. But I don't see that coming at this point. Life is not just happening at workplace. When people get out the office, English is just a hobby for most Japanese people.
  • [Ex Member][Ex Member] Posts: 363 ✭✭✭
    > @Frank said:
    There are more and more English words adapted in --> adopted to our language.

    The same counts for --> applies to some television advertisements.
    In games --> Regarding games, it's not --> no different.

    > You are right that the proper use of Dutch grammar gets worse among youth --> is getting worse among the youth.

    > Aside from English there are other influences of foreign languages onto our language. --> Aside from English there are other foreign languages that influence our language.

    > Personally I don't mind that our language changes because of English influence. --> the influence of English.

    Probably we coundn't have understood --> wouldn't be able to understand people who lived 300 years ago properly.

    Well-written! And the next language to embrace is Spanish!! :) I more meant adult speakers of Dutch who have no idea what is correct or not. I learn a phrase from one Dutch speaker, only to be told by another Dutch speaker that I am wrong, and THIS is the correct form. And then a third Dutch speaker tells me THAT is wrong, and it's another way.....in the end, you are always wrong for someone. :)

    What you describe about advertising slogans and ads being all in English is also common here in Germany. But everything on TV is dubbed and there virtually no English language commercials. It's trendy to use phrases like 'to go' and 'see you'. And there are a good number of people in their 30s who pepper their speech with English words and phrases....often used incorrectly, too! Many people hate hearing this half-English speech and will yell at these people for not speaking German in Germany, or for advertising with English words.
  • [Ex Member][Ex Member] Posts: 363 ✭✭✭
    Hello @takafromtokyo

    >Now, they force their workers to do --> have discussions and make reports in English.
    > If all the comapnies (companies) in Japan that pays -->pay well follow those examples,
    >Life is not just happening at workplace --> Life doesn't just happen at the workplace.
    > When people get out OF the office

    Once again, another fantastic post from you! (applause) You can be very proud of your English.
  • takafromtokyotakafromtokyo Posts: 2,057 ✭✭✭✭
    @Larry_the_Zebra
    Thanks for your corrections.

    One question: you don't say "do discussions"? Or, is it simply better to say "have discussions"?
  • [Ex Member][Ex Member] Posts: 363 ✭✭✭
    @takafromtokyo

    I have never heard 'do discussions', it's always 'have discussions'. But I am a North American speaker of English and it is possible that in other versions of English 'do' can be used. Let's ask!

    @Lynne Can we say They force their workers to DO discussions... in British English?

    Taka, we'll see what Lynne has to say....!
  • LynneLynne Your Teacher HomePosts: 9,472 mod
    edited January 29
    Hi @Larry_the_Zebra and - We "have" discussions too.

    @takafromtokyo - As long as something is a suitable topic "for" discussion you can do the following:-

    "begin" a discussion / "lead" a discussion / "enter into" a discussion / "take part" in a discussion / "participate in" a discussion / "continue" a discussion / "end" a discussion /

    Something can be "up for" discussion or "under" discussion, or it may "invite" discussion.

    Of course you can also simply "discuss" something. :wink:
  • takafromtokyotakafromtokyo Posts: 2,057 ✭✭✭✭
    @Larry_the_Zebra
    Thanks for inviting Lynne to this discussion.

    @Lynne
    Thanks for your explanation.
    So, I think people "have" discussions and not "do" discussions. I need to practice these collocations to get used to them.
  • FrankFrank Moderator Posts: 5,937 mod
    edited January 29

    I more meant adult speakers of Dutch who have no idea what is correct or not. I learn a phrase from one Dutch speaker, only to be told by another Dutch speaker that I am wrong, and THIS is the correct form. And then a third Dutch speaker tells me THAT is wrong, and it's another way.....in the end, you are always wrong for someone. :)

    The Dutch make a lot of grammar mistakes in their language and do not always agree about what's right @Larry_the_Zebra . Some of these mistakes are due to the influence of other languages. Take for example the following sentence:

    You are bigger than me (or you are bigger than I)

    The right translation in Dutch would be:
    Jij bent groter dan ik.

    However a lot of Dutch people say:
    Jij bent groter als mij.

    The use of als instead of dan is called germanism, because this language error appears to have arisen from German influence. And the use of mij instead of ik probably comes from English influence, because in English, me or I are apparently both right in this sentence, as I read somewhere:

    "You are taller than me" and "You are taller than I" are both correct. However, lots of people are likely to think that "You are taller than me" is wrong (even though it sounds natural), and they are likely to think that "You are taller than I" sounds pretentious. The safest option is to expand the sentence after the than. For example: "You are taller than I am."
  • FrankFrank Moderator Posts: 5,937 mod
    Have you ever heard of Dunglish @Larry_the_Zebra?

    When Dutch people who are not familiar with the English language nevertheless try to speak English, they sometimes speak it in a way they are used to speak in their own language. Sometimes they use a different word order or translate Dutch idioms literally. If they do this you could hear the most strange sentences. These sentences are quite enough comprehensible for people who understand Dutch, but they sound odd and are often incomprehensible for the English. The Dutch writer Maarten H. Rijkens called this ‘new language’ Dunglish. He collected a lot of bizarre expressions the Dutch use if they try to speak English and wrote them down in a book titled: I always get my sin (meaning: I always get what I want).

    On the following page you find a couple of interesting examples of Dunglish.
    http://learn-english-forum.org/discussion/1607/dunglish-i-always-get-my-sin/p1

    You can react on that page if you like. I'm curious what you think about it.
  • takafromtokyotakafromtokyo Posts: 2,057 ✭✭✭✭
    @Larry_the_Zebra
    Speaking of some languages in danger of disappearing, I don't think a language disappears overnight. The cultures and the way they lead their lives get damaged first. In order to protect a disappearing language, I think it's not enough to try to protect the language itself. I think we need to do something that will help maintain their way of life.
  • FrankFrank Moderator Posts: 5,937 mod
    English has many French words and German words like "kindergarten". Dutch has French, German and English words. What would be the problem if the languages grew more towards each other? Would we loose identity? Couldn't we just understand each other beter without having to have interpreters? Would we have another 'Tower of Babel?"
  • ZomZom Shadok Posts: 2,800 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    True Frank, English has borrowed lots of words from other languages, but why have they got this bad habit to change their pronunciation? This doesn't help to understand each other, or as you said "grew more toward each other", not at all. ;) (A French one speaking.)
    It befits a man to be merry and glad
    Until the day of his death.
  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 26,975 mod
    @Frank the French really resent this encroachment of English into their language and try to limit it as far as possible. However, le babysitting and le weekend are definitely part of the French language these days.

    That said even the French seem to want to learn English nowadays. I've even been told that speaking English 'is cool.' The problem many French English students have told me is that unlike in The Netherlands @Frank or Germany @Larry_the_Zebra , where subtitles are used, in France everything that's not in French is dubbed.

    I have to say that I rather like that English sometimes encroaches other languages as it makes it easier to understand. I attended some presentations in Nepali yesterday which were made a bit easier to understand by all the odd English words that were used. I sometimes find Hindi even easier as some commentators switch between the to languages, using not just odd words but whole phrases, even paragraphs in English. Have you noticed this @mohit_singh? I'm not sure if Japanese uses many English words do they @takafromtokyo?
  • [Ex Member][Ex Member] Posts: 363 ✭✭✭
    No, no @mheredge ! Germany is just as much of a monolith of language as France when it comes to mass media!! Only dubbing here, not subtitles. Live televised events like the Oscars have a simultaneous interpreters and you can't hear at all what the actors and presenters are really saying.

    Did you read my post about my friend who is a tutor for English in Bordeaux?

    I am also on another site which is French run and most of the users are in France. I have run into many "learners" on that site who think nothing of writing a message in French and then running it through Google Translate wholesale before sending it to you. When you say "Most of this message doesn't make sense. Please don't use Google Translate without checking your message first." They answer "Why not? Do you think I have time to write everything in English?! Let the computer do it!!"

    Have you read/heard about Zoé Shepard's book Absolument dé-bor-dée - Ou le paradoxe du fonctionnaire? In the book, she points out that most French people she knows (and she is French) fake their language ability, claiming on CVs that they speak 'excellent' English when they can barely get a word out....but that that is normal for many other nations in Europe also (she points the finger at Spain). If actually called upon to write or read in another language -- they go right for Google Translate or for another computerized program to do it for them. Which is what my experience on that other site confirms.

    @Zom What do you mean 'don't take over the pronunciation'? Most languages that borrow words mould them to fit their own pronunciation. And if you are speaking about French words, then you have to make a difference between Norman French words brought over with William of Normandy in 1066, and those that came in later.

    Words like 'filet' are said "fill-it' but 'duvet' is said "duvé" like in French in British English. The pronunciation is inconsistent. In American English, both are said with the French pronunciation 'filé' and 'duvé'.
  • [Ex Member][Ex Member] Posts: 363 ✭✭✭
    @Frank

    > The use of als instead of dan is called germanism, because this language error appears to have arisen from German influence.

    I admit, I am also very guilty of this! I want to always say 'als' and not 'dan' because of German.

    > "You are taller than me" and "You are taller than I" are both correct. However, lots of people are likely to think that "You are taller than me" is wrong (even though it sounds natural), and they are likely to think that "You are taller than I" sounds pretentious. The safest option is to expand the sentence after the than. For example: "You are taller than I am."

    I totally agree and for exactly those reasons. You are taller than I am is by far the best option.

    But doesn't this prove the point that too much mass exposure to another language (or languages) causes confusion in the language of the country and chaos in the grammar? Not only for the native population, but also for learners who are unable to learn what 'good' language is and what is a mistake?
  • Hat22Hat22 Posts: 4
    In my country , we are bilingual we speak both Arabic and french .
    the language of instruction in most of the universities is French.
    People demand now a migration to english language because it's the global one .
  • takafromtokyotakafromtokyo Posts: 2,057 ✭✭✭✭
    @mheredge @Larry_the_Zebra
    Well, we Japanese people really like to import foreign words and use them in our own Japanese style. I guess most people from overseas feel relieved at first to find those imported words when they visit Japan, but soon they're going to show the look of disappointment when they realize those words are used in different meanings. Some of them have a totally different meaning and rather it causes misunderstandings.

  • FrankFrank Moderator Posts: 5,937 mod
    edited January 30


    But doesn't this prove the point that too much mass exposure to another language (or languages) causes confusion in the language of the country and chaos in the grammar? Not only for the native population, but also for learners who are unable to learn what 'good' language is and what is a mistake?

    @mheredge @Larry_the_Zebra @takafromtokyo I work (among other things I do) with refugees that have been traumatized in their home countries. I'm concerned with their psychological treatment and doing this I often hold group sessions with families from different countries at the same time. Thereby I mostly make use of interpreters, but they are not available in every session. Often my colleagues and I have to try to make ourselves understood with our hands and feet and with any language we know: English, French etc.

    At a time when we had a lot of refugees from Bosnia I decided to learn the Servo-Croatian language. When I was learning this language I discovered that my French became worse. Somehow learning different languages provokes the same brain area for all these languages. Especially when the languages have much similarities it can be confusing. I once tried to learn Spanish and Italian at the same time but I failed. It was too much alike. If you learn too many languages at the same time they can all get mixed up.

    During the time I was working with the Bosnian refugees I went on holiday to Turkey. There I spoke a little Turkish to the local people. I like to do that. However, when I'd come back and had begun doing the group work again, I discovered something strange. I was translating for a Bosnian man and he was kindly nodding at me as if he understood everything I said. Other people were laughing. It happened that I was speaking French to him and I hadn't noticed that myself.

    Back to the question: does too much mass exposure to another language (or languages) causes confusion in the language of the country and chaos in the grammar? I think it does when people don't want to speak that other language but have to learn it at a later age. Children are easily able to learn more languages at the same time without confusing any of them. It has been found out that bilingualism isn't only good for learning the language; it also stimulates other brain functions. It is said that bilingual children are smarter in general and the chance that they develop dementia at a later age is declined.

    Enough reason for me to make learning languages a precious hobby for me and my children. However, I must admit that it doesn't always seem to be beneficial to learn English at school at a young age. Many children from refugees have more problems with learning Dutch when part of their education is given in English. And also children from bilingual secondary schools sometimes have difficulty with Dutch grammar.

    Another disadvantageous side-effect lies in the fact that these children have to learn from English books. This means they get mainly English history and English geography instead of Dutch history and Dutch geography. There are simply no English school books about Dutch history and Dutch geography.
  • [Ex Member][Ex Member] Posts: 363 ✭✭✭
    @takafromtokyo I agree with you that protecting the culture also protects the language. I am learning Welsh now, a language that is considered 'endangered'. A few decades ago it was far more endangered and terribly unpopular, but due to the massive efforts of the Welsh government and Welsh speakers in Wales, the language is starting to become healthy again.
    One of the biggest boosts to the language was when London granted Wales its own parliament. Today, many English people who move to Wales start to learn some Welsh because of the use of the language in everyday life. Of course, there are those English people who demand that Wales is still in the UK and English is the ONLY language to be spoken in the UK, but they are increasingly in the minority.

    I think the example of Welsh shows two things. 1) political power is important if an endangered culture/language is to be helped. Cultures with no real political power can't do very much about the influence a stronger culture has on them and 2) that there must be an interest in the population for saving the language through USING it. This is not always the case.

    I'm very happy to be helping keep Welsh alive, even if I can only say very basic sentences right now and only have myself to talk to! :persevere:

    Corrections:
    >but soon they're going to show the --> be showing a look of disappointment when they realize those words are used in --> with different meanings. Some of them have a totally different meaning and rather it causes misunderstandings. --> it rather causes misunderstandings.

    Biru! (that's beer, right?) How international!
  • takafromtokyotakafromtokyo Posts: 2,057 ✭✭✭✭
    @Larry_the_Zebra
    >political power is important if an endangered culture/language is to be helped. Cultures with no real political power can't do very much about the influence a stronger culture has on them

    I totally agree with you on this point. Thus, how to give such political power to an "endangered" culture becomes the next important issue. Democracy basically means majority decides, and the majority rule itself could be the biggest threat to those minor languages. Democracy especially when combined with free market system can have the power to extinguish the values those minor cultures have as well as their language.
  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 26,975 mod
    Hat22 wrote: »
    In my country , we are bilingual we speak both Arabic and french .
    the language of instruction in most of the universities is French.
    People demand now a migration to english language because it's the global one .

    I spend quite a bit of time in the Cote d'Azur where there are many people from the French-speaking countries of Africa. I have met many who want to learn English as it's such a useful international language.

    A big problem in Nepal is that the diversity of languages here is fast being lost. There are just over 100 different languages but in particular when people migrate to the cities, they abandon their own language for Nepali, the national language. Invariably their children do not even learn their mother tongue.
  • takafromtokyotakafromtokyo Posts: 2,057 ✭✭✭✭
    Could Japanese become one of the endangered languages in the future? I'm afraid it could. The population of people speaking Japanese is small compared to that of other languages like English, Spanish, Arabic, or Chinese. Plus, Japanese is mainly used in Japan only.
  • YellowtailYellowtail Posts: 719 ✭✭✭
    I think we should take the advance of machine translation into consideration. Since it may reach the sufficient level for many kinds of business communication, I think learning languages will become less necessary in the future. Hopefully it might keep minority languages from dying. But the impact of the technology will be too huge to predict what implications will come out.
  • takafromtokyotakafromtokyo Posts: 2,057 ✭✭✭✭
    @Yellowtail
    If more and more people come to rely on translation device, I think it becomes crucial for a language to be listed available in those devices in the first place. Will Japanese language make it?
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