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Frenchman Proposes Downsizing English; Re-Naming “Globish”

Since the worldly use of this fine English language is on an unceasing rise—one billion speakers and counting—there seem to be two (well, three) camps. The first is unassertive and allows each person to use his tongue of choice. Call it the “free language market” solution. That is the one ignored by the New York Times as it reports on the rise of English this bright Sunday. The second is the classical French option, which is to abandon organic norms, dictate lingual code, ban or stem the influx of English words, and keep things pure. Call it the statist option. It is the first presented by the Times, with the most recent example being that fine place called Iran, where one is no longer allowed to use the word “pizza” or “helicopter” on pain of, well, death, probably. The final is the modern French option, which is the main focus of the article. €œIt ‘s a lost cause to try to fight against the tide, € says Jacques Lévy to Times reporter Noam Cohen. So?

Jean-Paul Nerrière, a retired vice president of I.B.M., calls his proposal Globish. It uses a limited vocabulary of 1,500 words, taken from the Voice of America, among other sources, which can be put together clumsily to express more complicated thoughts. Little concern is given to the complexities of grammar, and he proposes that speakers of Globish say the same thing in different ways to make up for difficulties in pronunciation.
I’m being just a little unfair. Nerrière doesn’t advocate replacing English, or any language for that matter, with Globish. He calls Globish a “tool” with a limited use. €œGlobish is not a language, it will never have a literature, it does not aim at conveying a culture, values, € he says. And so I think it isn’t a terrible idea at all. But I think option number one, in which more and more people find themselves advantaged by learning proper English, is probably best. Then the current one billion English speakers needn’t memorize which English words aren’t in the Globish vocabulary, and as English grows ideas can be communicated with more precision and accuracy.


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