The evolution of Eurish

by on February 13, 2018 at 2:27 pm in Current Affairs, Education, Political Science | Permalink

Over years of attending conferences, chairing panels and running training programmes in more than a dozen European cities, I have begun to note the contours of this changing language that I call Eurish. It is still English, but it has its own features that are often common to both romance and Germanic languages.

One feature is the European uncountable noun — singular in native-speaker English but plural in Eurish: “he received feedbacks”, “we have a lot of informations” and “we are producing online contents”.

There are other Eurish differences. I have heard both Germans and Italians say “we discussed about” rather than “we discussed”. “I will answer to your question” is common in many European discussions. Writing in the World Englishes journal, Mr Modiano adds others: “I am coming from Spain” rather than “I come from Spain” and “We were five people at the party” rather than “There were five people at the party”.

Continental Europeans are increasingly unworried about what Brits think of their developing English.

That is from Michael Skapinker at the FT, via Lennert.

1 Uribe February 13, 2018 at 2:40 pm

What does this have to do with the continent? The Europeans I work with in the US write like this. When I try to help them with it they get annoyed. “Good enough English ” is the new business English in America.

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2 RafaelR February 13, 2018 at 3:09 pm

That is because your English is not better than Eurish. Just like that yesterday’s night me and friend of mine talking we were about how non-native english people speak different.

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3 Michael Caton February 13, 2018 at 3:28 pm

Uribe, like you I can’t help but get very annoyed at “innovations” (which as a native English speaker just sound wrong to me) – but just as English accents automatically sound smart and sophisticated to many Americans, as native English speakers, increasingly we might get the same advantage relative to people who speak good-enough English. But lots of others learning your native language (and learning it imperfectly of course) is the price you pay for living in a successful culture. That said, RafaelR, you’re right, of course there’s nothing inherently “incorrect” about one version versus another, but it’s almost impossible for people to separate language and accent from cultural assumptions. So, there’s nothing “wrong” with my heavily Mexicanized American-learned Spanish, since I can understand and be understood just fine. But if I move to Argentina and want people to not think of me as just another Yankee, I will deliberately try to pick up the accent there, learn the proper use of <>, etc . If you don’t think that matters, ask an African-American with heavily black-inflected speech how fairly they’re regarded during phone interviews.

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4 Uribe February 13, 2018 at 3:41 pm

My point was only that Eurish isn’t exclusive to Europe.

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5 wiki February 13, 2018 at 5:24 pm

Funny. In French, German, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino, they will certainly notice if the way you speak is different (i.e. non-native) and treat it as inferior or alien. Why should this be restricted for Americans and the British?

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6 RafaelR February 13, 2018 at 5:52 pm

Because English is the world’s lingua franca spoken by over 1 billion while French, German, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino are local languages spoken by less than 130 milion people. Since more people speak English it is subject to greater variabilities and also there is a difference between local dialects (Eurish is a dialect of English) and speaking it wrong.

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7 DonatelloD February 13, 2018 at 6:44 pm

There are almost 150 million Russian citizens, and Russian is widely spoken at the native speaker level in former Soviet Republics.

There are quite obvious more than 130 million Mandarin speakers.

You’re low by more than a factor of 3 for Spanish.

8 Charbes A. February 13, 2018 at 7:49 pm

Hundreds of millions of people speak Portuguese. According to experts, it is the nearest thing to classical Latin and is the most logical natural living language. It has been called the last flower from Latium.

9 P Burgos February 14, 2018 at 12:05 am

English may be the current lingua franca, but globish only works in some contexts. You surely don’t want a lawyer drawing up a contract who doesn’t have a deep and thorough understanding of the language in which the contract is written. Similarly for anything that requires precision.

10 Brian Donohue February 14, 2018 at 11:27 am

According to a taxi driver I spoke to in Lisbon, Portuguese is basically Spanish with some words consciously changed to limit the ability of the Spanish to infiltrate and undermine the Portuguese. I’m sure there was some actual drift too.

11 Larry Siegel February 15, 2018 at 12:26 am

It reads like a variant of Spanish but it sounds profoundly different.

12 Paul February 13, 2018 at 2:41 pm

i was told by a Chinese graduate on his way to grad school for advanced training as a translator that American English is the preferred choice in China because there are fewer idiosyncratic metaphors.

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13 Ricardo February 13, 2018 at 3:36 pm

Yes, British English can be a bit of a sticky wicket.

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14 clockwork_prior February 14, 2018 at 1:07 am

That is a home run, you really knocked it out of the park.

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15 Brian Donohue February 14, 2018 at 11:28 am

Not cricket.

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16 Scott Mauldin February 13, 2018 at 3:58 pm

That is a bit of a sticky wicket but no reason to get all 6s and 7s. British English isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but if someone’s fine and dandy speaking the Queen’s, then so be it.

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17 Jeff R February 13, 2018 at 5:50 pm

And Bob’s your uncle, folks.

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18 Matt T February 13, 2018 at 7:19 pm

I had a butcher’s at the article and it’s been donkey’s since I’d heard talk like that.

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19 Monty P February 14, 2018 at 12:39 am

A nod’s as good as a wink to a blind bat!

20 begob February 14, 2018 at 6:10 am

Bob is now my auntie. There were much family learnings when he first presented herself in a frock.

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21 jb February 14, 2018 at 12:47 am

I don’t speak Chinese, but if they think English is low on idiosyncratic metaphors, either they don’t understand English or Chinese is basically Tamarian.

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22 ivvenalis February 14, 2018 at 2:10 am

It’s the latter.

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23 Paul February 14, 2018 at 2:31 pm

Just that English English has relatively more than American English.

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24 John Thacker February 15, 2018 at 8:45 am

As ivvenalis says, it’s the latter. “Four character idioms” in Chinese (Chengyu 成語 Japanese version: Yojijukugo 四字熟語) are basically Tamarian.

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25 John Thacker February 15, 2018 at 8:46 am

Many of them cannot be understood without knowing the classical literature to which they refer.

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26 Anonymous February 13, 2018 at 2:45 pm

Still rooting for Globish, not the trademarked product, nor a pidgin, but the idea that a subset of English is easily teachable and accessible worldwide.

And “informations” is fine.

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27 swampr February 13, 2018 at 3:18 pm

Expansion of a language leads to simplification of its grammar. Small isolated tribes tend to have devilishly complex inflection. Widespread tongues rely more on word order.

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28 Uribe February 13, 2018 at 3:24 pm

Latin doesn’t fit your paradigm.

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29 Scott Mauldin February 13, 2018 at 4:06 pm

Of course it does. The overwhelming majority of Latin speakers did not speak like what was written by the learned elite who could write like Virgil or Cicero; they spoke the simpler Latin of the provinces, which is why there are no cases and vastly simplified conjugations in all the Romance Languages.

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30 Joe In Morgantown February 13, 2018 at 6:03 pm

Among other simplifications, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulgar_Latin lost: the neuter gender and the dative, genitive and accusative cases.

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31 Anonymous February 13, 2018 at 11:03 pm

So why the F does German still have all those?

32 jb February 14, 2018 at 12:49 am

Because Arminius won the battle of the Teutoberg Forest, so there were no simplified-Latin speakers in Germania.

33 Peter Akuleyev February 14, 2018 at 7:09 am

Spoken German lost the genitive case at least 400 years ago, and most German dialects don’t distinguish between accusative and dative, there is just an “oblique” case. “Standard German” is an artificial language and in many ways archaic. German also has far simpler verb declensions than Romance or Slavic languages.

34 JonFraz February 14, 2018 at 1:24 pm

A distinct genitive/dative case survived in Old French into the Middle Ages and is still present in Romanian.

35 Ray Lopez February 13, 2018 at 3:31 pm

Esperanto! Here in PH, they routinely say “seafoods” (plural). Does make sense, logically?

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36 cliff arroyo February 14, 2018 at 3:29 am

Could “seafoods” be a translation of Spanish mariscos?

Also in Eurish “In that country women are discriminated.” use of ‘funny’ instead of ‘fun’ (the party was very funny) “mobbing” (referring to workplace bullying/ harassment)

And the hedging used by native speakers for politeness is all gone making it often sound kind of…. rude.

Contrastive stress also usually disappears.

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37 Careless February 14, 2018 at 12:17 pm

Pretty sure “seafoods” isn’t grammatically incorrect as long as you’re talking about multiple types of seafood. Just like “fishes” is a word.

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38 y81 February 13, 2018 at 2:53 pm

There’s a lot of variation in the quality of the English spoken by reasonably sophisticated Europeans. Two episodes I remember, both involving people whose English was very, very good: The first was a Swedish client who could not come up with the word for the water around Stockholm. “Brackish” I told him, which made him very happy. The other was some Spaniards who worked for Telefonica whose English was good enough to draft legal documents, except one time when I told them that the borrower should “maintain,” rather than “retain,” certain insurance coverages. They were nonplussed to have made an error.

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39 clockwork_prior February 14, 2018 at 1:12 am

‘nonplussed’

So, they cared or they didn’t? Even native speakers have a hard time making their meaning clear to a global audience.

1 So surprised and confused that one is unsure how to react. ‘Henry looked completely nonplussed’

2 North American informal Not disconcerted; unperturbed.

In standard use nonplussed means ‘surprised and confused’, as in she was nonplussed at his eagerness to help out. In North American English a new use has developed in recent years, meaning ‘unperturbed’—more or less the opposite of its traditional meaning—as in he was clearly trying to appear nonplussed. This new use probably arose on the assumption that non- was the normal negative prefix and must therefore have a negative meaning. It is not considered part of standard English. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/nonplussed

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40 JDR February 13, 2018 at 2:54 pm

I think this is a good thing. I’ve noticed this among European colleagues as well. Native English speakers have no trouble understanding them and it probably makes the language more regular and easier to acquire.

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41 Hadur February 13, 2018 at 3:00 pm

My mother, who is from continental Europe, thinks that “turbulence” is a plural noun, because it ends with an -s sound. She will speak of a turbulent, singular – presumably, a turbulent is a thing in the air that, when combined with others of its kind, causes problems for airplanes. When airplane turbulence is really bad she will say “there are many turbulents!”

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42 CD February 13, 2018 at 8:24 pm

like kudos.

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43 Careless February 14, 2018 at 12:49 pm

Not a big reader, huh

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44 shrikanthk February 13, 2018 at 3:03 pm

A similar English variant is Inglish / Hinglish – that prevails across India transcending regions.

Some examples of Inglish statements –

a) “I was talking about that only” (instead of saying “I was talking precisely about that”)

b) “Thus, ……” (Thus is a popular word in Indian written English).

c) “I passed out of college”

d) “I am doing my graduation in New York”

e) “She is sitting on my head” (as opposed to “She is bothering me a lot”)

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45 MOFO February 13, 2018 at 3:59 pm

The one ive heard (and started to adopt myself) is “take rest”.

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46 RM February 13, 2018 at 4:11 pm

Yep. These examples are common across South Asia. Including “Yesterday night”.

All that said, I notice that Indians have moderated their accents a whole lot in the last 10 years. They probably represent the fastest case of accent modification ever known in the U.S., especially among the educated younger than 50 years.

I think it gives them an enormous leg-up in the tech sector when compared to Chinese.

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47 shrikanthk February 13, 2018 at 4:20 pm

Indians have never had a very strong accent. In fact elite public school educated Indian kids have even less of an accent than the average kid in UK or US.

It’s partly got to do with the emphasis on pronunciation in Indian languages. This stems from the very strong oral tradition and aversion to writing in Indian culture that I have touched on elsewhere.

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48 RM February 13, 2018 at 4:43 pm

Indians don’t have a strong accent? Ok, I get your point that accents are relative — to Indians, Americans have a strong accent (if this is the point you are trying to make).

But, I think that the reference point for this discussion is American/British English, and by extension American/British accents.

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49 shrikanthk February 13, 2018 at 4:55 pm

I am trying to judge in a culture neutral way. And trying to understand whose speech is most clear to a neutral observer, English speaking Indians are the easiest to comprehend in my view. Definitely easier to follow than the speech of a typical Yorkshireman or Cockney or even many southern blacks (and whites).

50 Harun February 13, 2018 at 6:51 pm

If you want to be objective, ask a Chinese who speaks English.

They will tell you that Indian accents are the hardest accents.

I think you really can’t be objective here.

51 blah February 13, 2018 at 8:55 pm

While teaching students in the US several years back I did notice that Indians (including me) were harder for the students to follow. But I think part of it was also due to us talking faster than those from most other countries; also, we talk without stressing syllables (or rather, we stress those syllables that we feel contributes most to the meaning), swallow syllables here and there, and so on.

The question of whether there exists some group of people with a neutral accent is interesting: I have often felt a few very well educated people from some non-English-speaking countries, say Lebanon and Turkey, to have relatively “accentless” English. But my sample space is highly limited, and also biased: for instance while the following video has some Korean accent, to me it is less accented than most British or American speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOkqQadArfQ

52 AJ February 13, 2018 at 10:11 pm

I agree with blah. In my experience, Indians are harder to understand primarily because they speak very quickly relative to other people, and they do not stumble or break as often as Asians in mid-sentence. But I will add the point that Indians also tend to drop the little references that English speakers of other languages use to logically connect topics or sentences, which makes their discussions harder to follow.

53 AnthonyB February 13, 2018 at 11:51 pm

The retroflex r that passes from Indian languages into Indian-inflected English is striking and comes across as a thick accent.

54 P Burgos February 14, 2018 at 12:14 am

I think one thing to remember is that a lot of people who purportedly speak English don’t actually speak English, but closely related languages such as Scots or Black American English. So an Indian speaker speaking real English is easier to understand than say a Yorkie speaking whatever language it is that they speak.

55 blah February 14, 2018 at 1:09 am

Yes, I remember the bit about logical connectors, I never had the habit of using them and was told that this was a general omission in Indian English. Though I can’t recall the examples off the top of my head now.

The retroflex “r” is a good concrete example of Indian accent, and probably the first one that comes to my mind too in the context. Another example is a “t” sound; or rather, the vast range of “t” sounds. I remember being shocked when I heard the “th” of “truth” in isolation on one of those websites helping with accent: it was so different from any sound I had registered in my mind, let alone the sounds I had in mind in connection with “th”. I still don’t have an intuitive feel for how that “th” sounds contributes to the sound of the word “truth”, though the word as a whole is so familiar and recognizable to me.

56 shrikanthk February 14, 2018 at 3:58 pm

I disagree with the commenters above (including blah).

I think Indians are even less likely to swallow syllables than most other people. In fact they even pronounce syllables that are not meant to be pronounced.

Eg : Wednesday is pronounced as Wednesday in India, as opposed to Wensday.

57 John Thacker February 15, 2018 at 8:48 am

Indian accents often don’t distinguish v and w, presumably because of influence from other languages on the subcontinent. That can cause some minimal pairs to coalesce.

58 dearieme February 13, 2018 at 5:54 pm

“elite public school educated Indian kids have even less of an accent than the average kid in UK or US”: poppycock. Everyone has an accent – it’s in the nature of things. The only question is which accent he has. Even mellifluous old me – I too have an accent. It’s unavoidable.

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59 Expat February 13, 2018 at 9:23 pm

Agreed. Indians who speak English have accents.

My favorite Hinglishisms

Please do the needful.

You did not intimate that you would be absent today.

I will surely avail the cab service if there is no charge.

60 M February 14, 2018 at 9:39 am

Elite public school educated Indian kids probably speak English the way they were taught, yes, scrupulously. Sanjeev, proprietor of the local corner shop? Less so.

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61 dearieme February 13, 2018 at 5:51 pm

“Thus is a popular word in Indian written English”: Good for you. I like “thus” too. Why Americans write “thusly” beats me. Just the love of extra syllables?

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62 blah February 13, 2018 at 9:43 pm

Perhaps because they want to emphasize the relation of thus to some verb they are using, and for that emphasize its status as a sort of adverb?

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63 Elam Bend February 13, 2018 at 7:45 pm

Prepone (as opposed to postpone) – a genius addition. One I first read about and then used in speech (in Chicago!)

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64 foobarista February 13, 2018 at 8:16 pm

Glad to see you weren’t bunking English class…

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65 Dick the Butcher February 13, 2018 at 3:14 pm

English is an admixture of Anglo/Saxon (Germanic) and French (Romance). What you are seeing is pigeon English.

There is a lot of bad usage in the US such as “ax” for “ask, “pacifically” for “specifically”, and “taxes” for “theft.”

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66 msgkings February 13, 2018 at 3:18 pm

And even “pigeon” for “pidgin”, and “trump” for “dummy” (bridge games excepted)

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67 Dick the Butcher February 13, 2018 at 3:32 pm

Good “catch.”

trump

trump

trump

trump

trump

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68 Anonymous February 13, 2018 at 7:10 pm

pity bridge is getting less popular. there’s something to be said for a game where No trump ranks higher than trump.

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69 msgkings February 14, 2018 at 9:22 am

Heh

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70 Brian Donohue February 14, 2018 at 11:31 am

Clever.

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71 Bernard Yomtov February 13, 2018 at 11:03 pm

No bridge player would ever use “trump” and “dummy” interchangeably. That makes no sense in the context of the game.

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72 msgkings February 14, 2018 at 9:23 am

I know, I’ve played a little. I just used those words and then they reminded me of bridge.

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73 Anonymous February 13, 2018 at 7:50 pm

Regarding “taxes for theft”, empathy is the guiding difference.

https://twitter.com/jesslahey/status/959924853234110464

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74 CD February 13, 2018 at 8:28 pm

“ax” is a simple dialect difference, going back to Old English.

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75 Michael Caton February 13, 2018 at 3:21 pm

Classic case of what happens to an “imperial” language. Over time, the second language speakers increasingly outnumber the natives *and teach each other* the language. This results in simplification of complex rules – like for example getting rid of the distinction between countable and uncountable nouns (i.e. informations.) This may be the force behind the dropping of second person formal and informal distinctions in many versions of New World Spanish, the loss of “shall” from modern English over the last century, and even the loss of noun inflection in Romance languages relative to Latin, or the extreme morphosyntactic simplicity of modern Mandarin. In a few more centuries scholars will be complaining that it’s hard to read early twenty-first century documents because back then, English speakers still use verb tense. The price of success!

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76 Elam Bend February 13, 2018 at 7:46 pm

Agreed – so bit, it, ’twas bound to happen to the bastard language anyway

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77 JonFraz February 15, 2018 at 2:10 pm

The trend in English has been to get rid of conjugated verb forms while increasing the number complex verb phrases. While we’re not the only language with a progressive aspect (“He is doing” vs. “He does”) but we use far more frequently than any other language. I don’t see that changing in the future, though some of the forms may erode further so that they generate inflectional endings again.

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78 Millian February 13, 2018 at 3:32 pm

From my experience, the divergences between UK English and EU English are no greater than those among English dialects. However, in the UK, the RP prestige dialect dominates formal settings including meetings, while Yorkshiremen and Scots comply as befits the class system. On the other hand, although RP definitely enjoys prestige status in continental Europe, Europeans aren’t exposed to enough RP to effectively comply, nor are there often RP speakers.

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79 Art Deco February 13, 2018 at 3:50 pm

the RP prestige dialect dominates formal settings including meetings

Except among 3 of the Queen’s 6 grandchildren.

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80 P Burgos February 14, 2018 at 12:18 am

Aren’t Scots and York simply different languages from English (as a linguist would define a language)?

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81 Albert February 14, 2018 at 9:32 am

Scots is normally reckoned to be a language, but that’s it.

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82 John Thacker February 15, 2018 at 8:49 am

Linguists admit that the difference between a language and a dialect is mostly politics and borders, and it’s true in the case of Scots.

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83 Willi February 13, 2018 at 3:42 pm

People are attached to their grammar. There seem to be a huge amount of people who struggle mightily to adopt grammar that is different from their mother tongue.

Russians saying Tyler and we when they just mean to say Tyler and I.

Turks not using articles.

Germans and their general grammar silliness.

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84 Petar February 13, 2018 at 4:45 pm

Assuming a Russian said “Tyler and we” in English, Tyler must have been present during the discussion, and the Russian wanted to say “we (including Tyler)”. In Russian, when you want to say “we”, there is a difference between just “we”, meaning me and some other people, not present, and, say “we with you”, meaning that the we includes the present company.

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85 Daniel Klein February 13, 2018 at 3:43 pm

When my Swedish wife thinks I’m being a wimp, she says “You shicken shit.”

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86 Mark Thorson February 13, 2018 at 3:48 pm

I was once involved in editing a document written by Israelis, and they consistently made the error of pluralizing the adjective to a plural noun, so what should have been “register bits” became “registers bits”. I guess that’s the way it is in Hebrew.

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87 Transnational Pants Machine February 13, 2018 at 4:48 pm

That’s the way it is in many languages.

But not English. So there’s another victory for THAT superior language.

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88 P Burgos February 14, 2018 at 12:20 am

Wouldn’t it be really confusing in English, as the plural and possessive form of nouns are formed the same way?

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89 Daniel Klein February 13, 2018 at 3:50 pm

A common practice among Swedes: As the noun “sun” has the corresponding adjective “sunny,” they think that the noun “fun” has a corresponding adjective “funny,” as in: “Money, money, money, must be funny, in a rich man’s world.”

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90 ChrisA February 14, 2018 at 7:23 am

There isn’t an adjective “funny”? Or are you trying to be funny?

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91 BMS February 15, 2018 at 12:46 pm

The point is that the English adjective means “humorous” rather than (as the Swedes supposed by analogy with “sunny”) “replete with fun.” Abba thought they were saying that money was fun to have in a rich man’s world. They ended up with a more interesting lyric that they intended, to my mind.

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92 John Thacker February 13, 2018 at 3:57 pm

There are grammatical variations within existing dialects of English (Singaporean English, or Singlish, tends to put little particles at the end of sentences, la.)

In my native North Carolina, people, including very well educated people, use the double modal (“might could” “might should”), and are like to use “is X-ing” forms for stative verbs, like “I am liking that class a lot.”

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93 John Thacker February 13, 2018 at 4:00 pm

It is also more likely in the South to hear the “X’s not” form rather than the “X isn’t” form of construction (“He’s not here” “He isn’t here”) compared to elsewhere, though English speakers everywhere understand both.

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94 dearieme February 13, 2018 at 5:58 pm

“He’s not here” is what I’d say. Terse, me.

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95 dearieme February 13, 2018 at 5:57 pm

“I am liking that class a lot.” There’s a hint of West Highland English there: I have always supposed that use of the continuous present tense must be common in Gaelic.

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96 Peter Akuleyev February 14, 2018 at 7:12 am

It certainly is in Welsh.

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97 Belisarurus Rex February 13, 2018 at 8:38 pm

Double modals were good enough for Thucydides. The proud people of North Carolina might could be better versed in the classics than you think. I’m listening to the Iliad on audiobook at the gym — the way it was meant to be experienced. I’ve noticed several others doing the same. Some of us can’t read, but how many Athenians could?

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98 P Burgos February 14, 2018 at 12:26 am

Isn’t the double modal used in requests or possibilities of what someone might do? That is, it is ungrammatical to use to describe someone’s state of being. Like, you might could put some chocolate icing on that cake, but not they might could be tall. How do you tall?

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99 John Thacker February 15, 2018 at 8:53 am

Oh, I don’t disagree that the difference in my native dialect are often conservative of older English forms (or Gaelic influenced.) Many of us pronounced “w-” and “wh-” differently, we distinguish “cot” and “caught,” and many of us don’t yod drop with n, t, and d (“tune” and “toon” are different, “Duke” is pronounced differently that “Dook,” which is the northern pronunciation) for example, and all of those are older.

In the mountains you’ll even find those who use “shall” and the “a’Xing” construction, though fewer these days.

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100 Glengarry Glen Ross Glendinning February 13, 2018 at 4:59 pm

One point Melvyn Bragg made in ‘The Adventure of English’ is that often when you get something ‘wrong’ in English people still understand what you mean, which partly explains its rise.

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101 Peter Akuleyev February 14, 2018 at 7:31 am

I think he has cause and effect backwards. The increasing economic importance of English led to increasing opportunities to hear foreigners speaking it badly. English also absorbed significant non-English speaking populations of Welsh, Cornish, and Gaelic speakers who went around speaking English badly for a few generations. Part of understanding is exposure. If you mangle tones speaking Mandarin, in most cases a native Chinese speaker who has dealt with foreigners can figure out from context what you are trying to say. I hear immigrants mangling German in real life and TV constantly, and they are still easy to understand.

On the other hand, I have heard that if you go to rural Bohemia and speak sub-standard Czech, people will stare at you like you are from Mars or consider you mentally deficient, because they have zero experience with non-native speakers of their language.

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102 Jimbino February 13, 2018 at 5:01 pm

Another example of Eurish is “advocate for.” You may advocate for a cause or for a person. You may not advocate for a thing.

You advocate abortion for a woman who is pregnant from a rape or incest. You don’t advocate for the abortion of her fetus.

I advocate enhanced education for those who don’t get the distinction.

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103 dearieme February 13, 2018 at 6:00 pm

Advocating seems to be primarily an American pastime.

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104 P Burgos February 14, 2018 at 12:29 am

All of those seem perfectly grammatical to me. You can advocate on someone’s behalf, in that way advocating for them. But you can also advocate for a particular course of action as well.

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105 Larry Siegel February 15, 2018 at 2:47 am

I agree with Jimbino. Advocate means give voice to. If you can substitute “give voice to” for “advocate” in the sentence, then it’s correct, otherwise it isn’t.

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106 Christopher February 13, 2018 at 5:01 pm

I teach English to students from many countries; the “errors,” if you accept them as such, identified by Skapinker, are common to English learners from a variety of linguistic backgrounds, rather than just Europeans.

For example, typically uncountable nouns such as feedback, information, content and, but not mentioned here, research, are frequently treated as countable nouns: feedbacks, informations, contents, researches.

“There are other Eurish differences. I have heard both Germans and Italians say “we discussed about” rather than “we discussed”.” This is a collocation error, perhaps derived from the accuracy of the phrase “talk about” or “speak about.” Again, common to learners or non-first language users of English from all over the place.

I haven’t read the article, yet, so perhaps he said as much.

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107 Graham Newman February 13, 2018 at 5:42 pm

I once had an Italian tour guide tell me “I have a good new and a bad new.”

It was delightful.

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108 Sure February 13, 2018 at 6:56 pm

I wonder what the bad gnu did to earn that.

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109 swampr February 13, 2018 at 6:29 pm

Is it true that the next generation of Englanders are all going to speak like Ali G? I see these articles about “Jafaikan” spreading all over the country among youth but I can’t tell if they’re exaggerating or not.

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110 Anonymous February 13, 2018 at 7:15 pm

My Italian roommate at grad School who would chat with acquaintances for a while , say “Hello” and leave. It took him a while to realise that unlike “Ciao” . there was a word “bye” also , besides “hello”

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111 rayward February 13, 2018 at 7:52 pm

Can you say “muth’-ah”? Whenever I hear the anodyne version spoken by those who can’t recognize English, I think of my father-in-law: “Muthah, you cant git drunk off light beah, muthah”. As for the truth of the matter asserted, he may have been wrong. But for the way he expressed the sentiment, he and Shakespeare shared a common language.

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112 RM February 13, 2018 at 8:13 pm

I discovered that there are several words for “yes” in Hindi/Urdu. Je is a weak yes, like “I heard you”, or “as you say”. I assumed that people were saying yes for a long time, until I realized it is the equivalent of nodding your head in the U.S.

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113 Chris S February 13, 2018 at 9:26 pm

Even worse is when you mistake the sideways head wag for a nod. Woe be to you when whenever was supposed to get done does not done, get.

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114 Luke February 13, 2018 at 9:03 pm

You can make similar observations about Malaysian and Singaporean english;
‘Cannot’ instead of saying ‘no I can’t do that’
‘Do you mind to’ instead of ‘do you mind’ – ‘Do you mind to tell me who you are?’
Sentences like ‘Welcome to join us’
Any number of chinese loanwords, and the ubiquitous ‘lah’

Lots of examples along those lines

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115 stasi February 14, 2018 at 9:37 am

yes that was my first thought, the first time I saw “wanna” written down was by an Indonesian colleague…. Ironically the FT writer is trying to have a dig at the UK because of brexit (europeans don’t mind what the brits think), but the thing is Brits can hear their language mangled all over the world, no need to stay in the EU for that pleasure …

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116 Brian Donohue February 14, 2018 at 11:37 am

I picked up ‘wanna’ and ‘gonna’ from 1970s Marvel comics. Perfectly cromulent, IMO.

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117 stephan February 13, 2018 at 9:28 pm

There are a lot of “ fake friends “ ( French faux amis) between English and French. A typical one would be “ matinee” ( = morning in French ) but a daytime performance in English. A sample here:

https://www.fluentu.com/blog/french/faux-amis-french-false-friends-cognates/

Also between English and German. A typical one “ gymnasium” (= high school) not gym

https://www.fluentu.com/blog/german/false-friends-english-german/

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118 GeoffBr February 15, 2018 at 12:23 am

The common English translation of “faux amis” for this usage is actually “false friends.” 🙂

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119 Chris McColloy February 13, 2018 at 9:50 pm

I get the impression that there are not that many commenters here who have learned a second language and lived abroad. This isn’t any sort of coherent dialect. It’s just non-native speakers making errors. When speaking an imperfectly learned foreign language, your errors revert to a word-for-word translation from your native language, rather than a concept-to-concept rendition. I live in Asia, and I know my speech is riddled with errors and non-native expressions, and it’s embarassing, but that’s the way it is.

I think as adults we all have limits as to how well we can learn a second language. There is probably an aptitude dimension, the ability to self-correct and learn from what you hear, but there is also a personality dimension. You have to like being with people and talking a lot. But most of all, the number of hours of using the language count.

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120 Bernard Yomtov February 13, 2018 at 11:11 pm

Yes. Let’s not make too much of this. People learning a second language make lots of mistakes, maybe even more than native speakers, and these often are based on the grammar of their primary language.

Let’s not forget that English is different from many European languages in lots of ways.

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121 ChrisA February 13, 2018 at 11:42 pm

Chris, while I agree with you on the second language learning as an adult I do think that this is a slightly different issue. Most of these people are learning English as children as well as their native language but not from native speakers. My kids have always gone to international schools as we have moved around the world and they speak what we call International School English, where all the past tenses are regularised, for instance “fighted” instead of ” fought”.

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122 P Burgos February 14, 2018 at 12:35 am

Crazy, as that is how kids speak growing up before they learn irregular verb forms. Do your kids know that to native English speakers they sound like small children? Perhaps that is what every foreign language learner sounds like.

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123 ChrisA February 14, 2018 at 7:05 am

My kids are native english speakers, but their schools consists of many nationalities. Most of them speak english from a very early age, they usually have been in International Schools, but I guess they speak their native language at home.

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124 Melmoth February 14, 2018 at 7:32 am

No if you read the FT article you will see this is about a form of highly correct but flat and inexpressive English which has developed as a European standard, at least in professional and official circles. I work in Asia too, in an office full of Euro expats and I hear this every day.

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125 Ram Gopal February 13, 2018 at 10:34 pm

Sample of India’s contributions to the English language some of which are worth incorporating by OED:
1) cousin sister, cousin brother (My English teachers found this unacceptable because “Fowler would never have tolerated it “)
2) co-sister/brother ( your brother-in-law’s wife is co-sister; sister-in law’s husband is co-brother)
3) chalk piece ( a retired colleague would say ‘ In English English, I need a piece of chalk; in Indian English, I need a chalk piece) ; 4) “I covered the portions” ( commonly used by teachers in the state I live in, meaning completing the assigned syllabus. A retired English professor, who insisted on speaking King’s English, would complain that the phrase implies nudity prevails on campus!) ; 5) writing a test, for taking a test or sitting for a test

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126 Bernard Yomtov February 13, 2018 at 11:07 pm

I have heard the phrase “write the exam” used by decidedly non-Indian professors in the US.

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127 GeoffBr February 15, 2018 at 12:27 am

Okay, I’ll bite… what’s the deal with #2? Isn’t your brother-in-law’s wife just your sister, and your sister-in-law’s husband just your brother?

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128 Ram Gopal February 15, 2018 at 3:36 am

GeoffBR, my sister-in-law’s husband … my wife’s sister’s husband … is not my brother or even a blood relative. We are called co-brothers in “Hinglish “. In India’s regional languages there are terms to describe such a relationship.

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129 Jim Swindle February 13, 2018 at 11:07 pm

This is slightly off-topic, but I can’t resist… A couple of decades ago I helped two men print a contract that they were going to sign. It was a contract between a US petroleum company and a country elsewhere. The contract was in English and in French. What struck me was that neither man spoke English or French as a first language. Such situations leave lots of room for misunderstanding. I didn’t read the contract, so don’t know whether it was in standard US English.

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130 ChrisA February 13, 2018 at 11:47 pm

Depending on the nature of the contact it could be a standard form contract, the International Association of Petroleum Negotiators provides these. Also maybe they had a legal department who did speak English? Many international agreements are stated to be under English law even if no party is English because of all the existing precedents.

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131 Merida February 14, 2018 at 2:30 am

My favorite Hinglish response is “mention not”.

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132 clockwork_prior February 14, 2018 at 3:27 am

Mention not, lest thee be mentioned?

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133 Axa February 14, 2018 at 3:40 am

Yes, there may be some language evolution.

I work in Switzerland. Company language is English but German and French are spoken frequently too. At work, the hardest people to follow in a conversation are the English. Even people with very strong accents are easier to understand than a native English with perfect pronunciation but mumbling idioms and local expressions.

Idioms make people feel part of a group, clever or funny. However, the very purpose of Eurish is to be understood by others, it is a communication tool. Every Eurish speaker has a mother tongue where he can be clever, funny or even poetic. Most of native English speakers don’t grasp that people that speak English as 2nd, 3rd or nth language don’t want to have fun, they just want to get things done.

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134 clockwork_prior February 14, 2018 at 3:57 am

‘Most of native English speakers don’t grasp that people that speak English as 2nd, 3rd or nth language don’t want to have fun, they just want to get things done.’

At work, that is. A Croatian I know wants to have fun when using English at bars with women, according to him and how he uses English generally.

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135 polly February 14, 2018 at 10:56 am

I love Eurish for its usefulness, and admire my Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and Croat colleagues who use it to communicate complicated information accurately to each other and to me. They are reliably clearer speaking Eurish than I am when I speak native English sloppily or use idioms.

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136 Ram Gopal February 15, 2018 at 3:50 am

In one of India’s regional languages there is a phrase which means ” don’t be silly” but when translated literally reads “your face”. I once heard some school children who speak that language actually use the literal English translation: a boy in a restaurant said that service was good and the others sitting with him said in a chorus “your face”!

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137 freethinker February 15, 2018 at 4:19 am

A neighbor’s daughter here in India is married to a Britisher. On a visit to India my neighbour first reprimanded them both about something in her mother-tongue. she then told her son-in-law that the terms she used have no equivalent in English, not even in “Hinglish”, and it is enough to know that each term refers to a “combination of qualities, all of them negative” !
I noted the terms and later asked a linguist who works on that lingo. She said that it is impossible to translate those terms into English and that for the English guy to really understand them, he would have to learn that language and also think in it. She appreciated the way my neighbour described them , adding that no linguist would have put it so well!

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138 freethinker February 15, 2018 at 4:22 am

I read somewhere that New Testament translators have a problem of finding an English equivalent to the Greek word “agape” used by Paul since it means more than what a single English term can denote

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