Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chinglish, Franglais, and Globish

Chinglish, Franglais and Globish. No, they're not a family of characters from a J.R.R. Tolkein novel (along with younger brother Singlish)

They're all...well, they're dialects/languages that have evolved from a combination of relatively "purer" forms of language. But the English "language" is itself of course a combination of Germanic tongues, Vulgar Latin and bits of herbs and spices like Viking thrown in for fun.

Which really goes to show that what we think of as "languages", which are analysed and neatly categorised in authoritative textbooks, are nothing more than the current status du jour of the continuing evolutions in the noises that eminate from out of our mouths when we want to say something. And when even the French are finally admitting this, then you know it really is true! For example even in La Belle France they're calling their markets "markets" instead of "marche".

In Hong Kong I'm always fascinated to hear people, especially those with a bit of education behing them, converse in what is essentially a form of Cantonese but where every other noun or adjective is basically an English word (but pronounced with an inescapable Cantonese twang, so "cute" becomes "Q"). Well I've always welcomed this, not least because it means I can communicate with Hong Kongers even more effectively, but I always had a nagging doubt that maybe they were just trying to impress each other in how much English they knew (and therefore how educated and advanced they were)

But if the French are now adding English words to their languages (effectively downgrading their tongue into a mongrel, and one that's distinctly been infected with les fleas anglaises) then we know that surely it is only a matter of time before English invades every known "language" in the word.

Oh well, c'est la vie. Plus ca change plus c'est la meme.


Brian Barker said...

Can I put in a word for Esperanto as well?

It's unfortunate that only a few people know that it has become a living language.

During a short period of 121 years Esperanto is now in the top 100 languages, out of 6,800 worldwide, according to the CIA factbook. It is the 17th most used language in Wikipedia, and in use by Skype, Firefox and Facebook.

Native Esperanto speakers,(people who have used the language from birth), include George Soros, World Chess Champion Susan Polger, Ulrich Brandenberg the new German Ambassador to NATO and Nobel Laureate Daniel Bovet.

Further information can be seen at A glimpse of the language can be seen at said...

Except of course, that with the growing numbers of Chinese-language users on the Web, some experts predict that English itself will evolve into Chinglish, not Globlish.

BBC Pie said...

Esperanto eh? I don't know it so popular language ah. Maybe Esperanto and Chinese and English together make new language. Called Chinglaranto. Which reminds me, when on earth did pidgeons ever learn to speak English?

david said...

You can read a couple of chapters of the real thing -- IN Globish -- in the new book Globish The World Over now at or read reviews at Eyrolles