Is Proper English Dying? And Should Us Care? — English is ubiquitous. It has an estimated 1.5 billion speakers. In China alone, 400 million people are currently actively learning English, or nearly a third of the population. So, in a few years, China will have more English-speakers than America. But learning English isn’t the same as knowing English, and knowing English isn’t the same as being able to speak good, or even intelligible English… A superb article from the WSJ on the evolution of of the English language
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Interesting study of the impact substandard dialects, such as Spanglish and African-American dialect have on English literacy - by linguist, Lucy Silver.
She concludes that, “although they create problems, they have been misunderstood by our educational system. They must be acknowledged and might even be incorporated into classroom instruction.”
Google has expanded its language translation tool on Android smartphones to 14 dialects – including Russian and Mandarin. They are planning to soon “totally bridge the language barrier” using new technology. Imagine that. Languages and dialects will no longer separate people as long as they have an Android smartphone. Amazing!
The article, “Dealing With Regional Dialects & Languages In Global Internet Marketing” examines the advantage a global company can have by marketing itself online using local dialects.
The tricky countries are those with regional languages most marketers have not heard of. Take Spain, for instance. You shouldn’t think of the Catalan language spoken in Catalonia as a “dialect” but as a language opportunity and deal with it as such. The same is true of Basque and Galician which with Catalan are official languages of the regions they relate to.
Catalan is given an “official” status by Google too — since you can use Google’s keyword tool to check keyword search volumes in Spain. Galician and Basque are sadly not available via that route but do exist in Google Translate. A very interesting read…
London stages Shakespeare’s plays in 37 dialects: Actors from around the world will converge on London next year to stage all of Shakespeare’s plays in 37 different dialects and styles, from a hip-hop Othello to The Comedy of Errors in Farsi. The six-week marathon at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre begins on April 23 and is timed to coincide with festivities celebrating the London 2012 Olympic Games. From the opening production of Troilus and Cressida by a Maori company from New Zealand – complete with the haka warrior dance – the programme will showcase talents from all corners of the planet, from Argentina to Belarus. Now that’s what I call a cultural celebration of dialects!
Dialects move glacially slow, however. As a result, the dialects spoken in rural areas are typically decades behind those found in the cities. Isolated settlements in the Canadian North, for instance, retain English dialects imported by early fur traders. The world’s oldest English can be found in isolated Northern Ireland fishing communities, where residents still use Shakespearean grammar. More here…
Swiss Effort to Save a Language Opens a Rift: Villagers Debate Whether to Stick to Dialects of Ancient Roman Tongue or a Cobbled-Together ‘Esperanto’
ZURICH—As kids return to school in Val Müstair, high in the eastern tip of the Swiss Alps, they are also entering the front lines of a bitter battle: the fight over the future of a centuries-old Latin dialect.
The municipality (population 1,600) is a stronghold of Romansh, a language imported by Roman occupiers 2,000 years ago and still spoken by most locals. Today, its villagers are up in arms over authorities’ attempt to push a sort of Romansh Esperanto on locals—one that officials defend as the only chance to save one of the last living relics of the Latin language.
The tiff originated in 1996, when Romansh became Switzerland’s fourth official language even though only roughly 60,000 people speak it.
Of the 670 indigenous languages and dialects spoken in Australia in 1788, less than 20 are still in daily use. Tragic. Thankfullly, today, i think all [most] countries recognize that the existence of multicultural and the existence of traditional ethnicities do not embarrass a nation, they enrich it. Click link below for a great article…
This one’s great! …Air Berlin is considering asking its flight attendants to make some announcements in regional German dialects after a YouTube video of one of its attendants speaking Swabian became a web sensation. Instead of standard High German, flight attendant Michaela Bahnmüller, decided several weeks ago to speak in dialect after her plane landed in Baden-Wurttemberg’s capital of Stuttgart, where Swabian is proudly spoken. The industrious southwestern state’s motto is even: “We can do everything - except speak High German.” If you understand Swabian, here’s the Youtube clip. Can you believe someone recorded it?! A million views too!
Standard German has been banned from Zurich, Switzerland preschools in favor of Swiss German. The outcome of the Sunday referendum was welcomed by the “Yes to dialect in the kindergarten” group that argued for the change. Swiss German, is almost unintelligible in most of Germany and remains a strong element of the Swiss identity. More here:
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