Is English our “international” language?

Union-Jack

The idea to make English the second language in the member states of the European Union probably has as many supporters as it has opponents. In this discussion, arguments like considerable savings in translation costs are colliding with inspired pleas for the preservation of national identity….. In this context, I came across a Youtube-movie, in which the following question is raised: If English were to become the international language, how would that particular language sound?

A young guy from England is demonstrating his excellent ear for accents by giving us 24 different ways of speaking English. He apologizes for his choice of words (he likes to swear here and there…), for some of the mistakes he is making, and he stresses that he is not trying to offend anybody. That’s all very correct of course, but above all: It’s brilliant and funny! I actually think this movie was shot in one take, which makes it even more astonishing.

You should definitely try this at home (in your own language, if you like…)!

Punctuation marks in domain names?

keywordsextractor

When I wrote my post on international domain names a while ago, I was wondering whether ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) would eventually come up with linguistic guidelines for domain names. This thought emerged because of my (minor) annoyance with the incorrect use of punctuation and spacing in compound nouns in the Netherlands. In the English language, compound nouns do hardly exist (bath room or bathroom?). However, in domain names, there seem to be no limit to the (intentional?) misuse of spacing and hyphenation. Here are some examples I found:

  • keywordsextractor.com : Key word sex tractor or key words extractor?
  • machome.com: Macho me or Mac Home?
  • And here are some others without further explanation: penismightier.com, findtherapist.com, beatleshits.com and teacherstalk.com

It really makes you wonder whether these domain names have been carefully considered. In some cases, I really am in doubt and I feel an immediate urge to hyphenate. In other cases, I’m sure that the lack of punctuatioan is deliberate.

Check out dowebsitesneedtolookexactlythesameineverybrowser.com and you will find an immediate answer to this non-punctuated question……;-).

Chinglish – the most delightful side-effect of internationalization

little grass has life

An increasing number of companies have to deal with data from the world’s fastest emerging economy: China. And the big question in this issue is of course: How can we compare these “strange” Chinese characters with our own writing set?

Grammar and character set of our Western alphabet-languages (such as English, French, Dutch or German) differ tremendously from Mandarin Chinese (which is the language spoken by most in the People’s Republic of China and abroad. Mandarin is a tonal language with an ideographic character set. Almost all characters have a semantic and a phonetic component. The different pithch in the pronunciation eventually determines the signification

Complicated? Definitely. But what about the other way around? Have you ever thought about the difficulties the Chinese have to face when trying to convert their language into meaningful English?

This phenomenon is sometimes hilariously being illustrated by the many public signs in China used to inform foreign visitors or to help them finding their way around.

This is truly a delightful side-effect of internationalization. …. Continue reading ‘Chinglish – the most delightful side-effect of internationalization’

The language barrier

Language is the main means through which people communicate. Ironically, it is also the main means through which people fail to communicate.

This problem exists both in an intranational as in an international context.

We do not understand each other although we speak -or think that we speak- the same language or we do not understand each other because we do not speak the same language. In the former case we increasingly have to deal with specific terminology or jargon (think of our diversified business community). In the latter case, we of course have to take into account that there are a great many different languages in the world. Continue reading ‘The language barrier’