Joanneke, born and raised in Holland, had lived in Spain for a number of years with her English husband. Now divorced, her husband had moved back to the UK and Joanneke had decided to remain in Spain to be near her friends and her work with her two young daughters. The girls attended a Spanish school so had a mixed vocabulary of Spanish, English and Dutch. As they grew older though, it became apparent that more opportunities would be open to them in the UK as well as for Joanneke in her work. So she made the difficult decision to leave her home and friends behind and took the girls to England with her to live in Birmingham near their dad.
Whilst the girls were thrilled to be near their dad and the English side of their family, there was one hurdle they needed to overcome! Despite having British friends in Spain and being able to speak English to a good level, they were still behind with their understanding of the language compared with kids of their own age group in the UK. So Joanneke made enquiries and enrolled the girls in some recommended private English classes in Birmingham which they did alongside their normal schooling. The classes were very convenient as the teacher visited their house to conduct the lessons after school and at a time that fitted in with the girls´ timetable of activities. This extra tuition enabled them to catch up quickly with their new schoolmates and helped them settle in quicker to their new home life.
Now, with lots of friends and a big family, the girls are enjoying a happy life in the UK. The eldest has just passed her exams with flying colours and made her mum proud by excelling in both Spanish and English!
There is tension in Quebec, Canada over a proposed bill that would limit English language rights.
The law would make it more difficult for municipalities to maintain their bilingual status if their anglophone population drops below 50 percent. Those seeking to enter the nursing order would have to demonstrate advanced proficiency in French. Measures would be taken to discourage English CEGEPs from recruiting students from the French system.
Bill 14 has caused a media firestorm and has lead to protests against the bill. The bill seeks to revoke bilingual status from some municipalities that currently cater to both French and English speakers. This would open a can of worms as the law would be far reaching, including forcing children from military families to go to French language schools. Many politicians have spoken out against the law including Daniel Ratthe, the CAQ MNA for Blainville who said:
“We think that we should leave to the city the choice or not to stay bilingual”.
Liberal interim leader Jean-Marc Fournier had this to say:
“French will always be a priority when it is presented the right way,” said Fournier. “When we seek to share French it will grow, now when we use a hammer to impose it.”
via: CTV News Here and Here
Twitter knows how to create some good publicity with an advertising gimmick. Twitter is currently available in a variety of different languages from Arabic to Urdu. Twitter also caters for languages that are usually forgotten about like Basque and Catalan. Twitter has decided to also cater to internet addicts by creating a version of Twitter. LOLcats is an internet meme in which people combine pictures of adorable cats with a comical, capitalised, ill spelt caption.
Taking a trip to twitter.com/?lang=lolc transforms your timeline into a tribute, of sorts, to one of the internet’s most ensuring memes.
Twitter is replaced by TWITTR, while Home becomes HUM. COMPOZE NEW TWEET, VUW PHOTO and EXPAN.KTHX have also replaced the conventional commands on the site.
Whilst language purists may shiver at the sight of their Twitter page proudly proclaiming VIEW MAH PROILE PUJ, the gimmick is undeniably funny. It also raises an interesting point about ‘correct’ English usage. I’m all for the evolution of the English language, but imagine picking up your daily newspaper to find it written entirely in LOLcats. It is perhaps a good idea to have a common notion of ‘correct’ English.
Since the British census results were released we have been treated to a barrage of news stories brimming with statistics. The latest story to hit the headlines is that Polish has become Britain’s second biggest language.
Polish is now the main language spoken in England after English, according to 2011 census data released by the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday.
This is not surprising as the amount of Polish people moving to Britain after Poland became a member of the EU was substantially larger than was predicted. This headline has given right wing newspapers ammunition against immigration, however, the headlines are somewhat deceptive. Welsh is in fact the second largest language in Britain but has for some reason been lumped in with English. To achieve the sensational headline, languages indigenous to Britain have been lumped together in first place. It is however interesting to find that Polish is clearly a useful language to learn in Britain.
via: The Guardian
Sacred Heart Primary School in Middlesbrough, England has made the news because of the headteachers efforts to ensure standard English is spoken by her pupils. A letter has been sent home to parents asking for their support in ensuring children say “work” instead of “werk” and do nor pluralise “you” by saying “yous”.
Headteacher Carol Walker said she wanted to teach standard English, not to remove the Teesside accent.
Of course many pronunciations like “werk” and grammatical anomalies such as pluralising “you” are signifiers of a regional dialect and go hand in hand with the accent. It would appear that the parents of the Sacred Heart Primarty Schools pupils are backing the headmaster however, with parents responses being “”really positive” with no “negative reaction” at all.” The Headteacher was quoted as saying:
“I am not asking children to deny where they come from. I am saying to them there are certain situations where they need to be able to use standard English.”
The BBC obtained a copy of the letter sent to parents and printed the list of offending words.
Head teacher’s language list
- I done that – I have done that or I did that
- I seen that – I have seen that or I saw that
- Yous – The word you is never a plural
- “School finishes at free fifteen” – “School finishes at three fifteen”
- Gizit ere – Please give me it
- I dunno – I don’t know
- It’s nowt – It’s nothing
- Letta, butta – Letter, butter
- Your – Your late should be you’re late
- Werk, shert – I will wear my shirt for work
- He was sat there – He was sitting there
via: The BBC
Another year passing means another mountain of neologisms. Whilst many will be relegated to the linguistic scrap heap a few no doubt will latch onto our vocabularies for years to come. The New York Times has compiled a list of the clever, the witty and the just plain ridiculous, of which I thought I’d share a few.
FRANKENSTORM The storm that hit the East Coast in October, a few days before Halloween.
GANGNAM STYLE The manner and attitude ascribed to the affluent Gangnam District of Seoul, South Korea. This term came to the attention of the world when the Korean pop star PSY released the song and video “Gangnam Style.” His signature “galloping pony ride” dance was the macarena of 2012.
NOMOPHOBIA Fear of losing or forgetting one’s mobile phone, or of being outside of the phone’s signal area. From no more (phone|phobia).
YOLO An acronym for “You Only Live Once.” Used as an interjection when someone is considering doing something risky or ill-advised. The expression took off this year after the hip-hop star Drake’s song “The Motto” became a hit in 2011.
I’m far from being a linguistic purist but is this the best we could do? Scrap what I said earlier. Hopefully when 2013 arrives we will all suffer a collective bout of amnesia and will never utter any of these words ever, ever again. What was your word of 2012?
The BBC have questioned how internet users are changing the English language. Articles about the internet changing the way we use language are a dime a dozen but this article includes some interesting facts. For instance ‘people who speak English as a second language already outnumber native speakers.’ Using this information we can question what effect these many variations of the English language will have upon native English speakers.
“The internet enfranchises people who are not native speakers to use English in significant and meaningful ways,” says Naomi Baron, professor of linguistics at American University in Washington DC.
Users of Facebook already socialise in a number of different “Englishes” including Indian English, or Hinglish, Spanglish (Spanish English) and Konglish (Korean English). While these variations have long existed within individual cultures, they’re now expanding and comingling online.
All of these different versions of English come together within the melting pot of the internet and this could lead to a universal English pidgin.
“Most people actually speak multiple languages – it’s less common to only speak one,” says Mr Munro. “English has taken its place as the world’s lingua franca, but it’s not pushing out other languages.”
Instead, other languages are pushing their way into English, and in the process creating something new.
via: BBC News
According to TechInAsia 24% of web content is now written in Chinese.
At the end of 2011, 27 percent of web content was in English, while 24 percent was in Chinese. Despite that, the graphic’s creators, the translation management platform Smartling, lament that the web is still too monolingual, with “56 percent of online content [being] English-only.” It calls for a more multilingual approach to the web.
Considering that North America and Europe account for 26% of web users whereas Asia accounts for 45% it is quite surprising that the statistic for Chinese web content is not higher. In the year 2000 39% of web content was written in English which shows a dramatic reduction to only 27% in 2011. In 2000 only 9% of web content was in Chinese now soaring to 24%. From these statistics it is quite likely that Chinese will become the majority language of the web, and it is quite likely to happen soon. The statistics offered in the article were complied by Smartling who also offer the astounding statistic that ‘China added more internet users in three years than exist in the U.S.’.
When I was younger my friends and I used a language called gibberish to conduct secret conversations. I remember when I first attempted to speak it my tongue was tied and it seemed as if I would never be able to speak at the pace my friends could. After a little bit of practice I could waffle away at a fast pace for hours without even thinking about it.
Gibberish has very simple rules yet is very difficult to decipher if you do not know them. For single syllable words the rules are very simple. The first sound of the word is followed by an uther, and the second part begins with a g. For example, car would be cuther gar. Tree would be truther gee. Coin would be cuther goin. As each syllable is treated as it’s own word in Gibberish two syllable words are split in two. Money would be Muther gun uther gee. Sister would be Suther gis tuther ger, and so on. Now you know the rules try to decipher the word below.
Chruther gist muther gas
The British government plans to change the education system making it compulsory for children to learn a language in school from the age of seven. This proposal has been put forward because of the decline in British students choosing to learn another language. ‘In 2010, 43% of GCSE pupils were entered for a language, down from a peak of 75% in 2002.’ Along with an emphasis being placed on foreign languages the government intends to improve British children’s grasp of the English language. Specific focus will be placed on grammar as well as ‘a systematic approach to the teaching of phonics – the sounds of letters and groups of letters – would be advocated to help pupils to become fluent readers and good spellers…’
I think that it is important for Britain to advocate language learning from a young age. In many jobs fluency in another language not only makes you stand out from the crowd but is also becoming a necessity to be employed in the field. Britain needs to make language learning an attractive prospect to the younger generation or else it risks being left behind in an increasingly globalised world.
Quotes via the BBC Website.