Sentences to ponder

The "likely consequence" of growing numbers of Chinese
learning English without "enough quality spoken practice" means that
"more and more spoken English will sound increasingly like Chinese."
Already, non-native speakers far outnumber native speakers, and in the
next decade, native speakers will make up only 15 percent of those who
use the language.

Here is the link, hat tip to Ben Casnocha.

Comments

I hope that Language Log notices this; the article doesn't seem as thought it was written by a Linguist, so there are like to be some misconceptions that would do with correction, although it does better on many points than some similar articles that I've read. The paragraph near the end that suggests the possibility of the Chinese Creole English somehow being more efficient than American English (or British English, or Australian English or et cetera) by dispensing with articles and suffixes irritated me; the loss of those features would not eliminate some nebulous value of complexity from the language, but rather transfer the burden of expressing what those endings expressed from the morphology to the syntax. Chinese Creole English would, seemingly in imitation of Chinese, probably move farther to the analytic end of the analytic-synthetic scale (or become more isolating, if you prefer).

The assertion in the article that, "In Mandarin, Cantonese, and other tongues, sentences don't require subjects," is quite wrong; so far as I know, all languages require subjects for their sentences; the only cases approaching a sentence without a subject are languages such as Japanese, which often doesn't express the subjects of sentences if they can be extrapolated from earlier conversation or context, but the sentences are nonetheless still present (zero-subject).

so far as I know, all languages require subjects for their sentences; the only cases approaching a sentence without a subject are languages such as Japanese, which often doesn't express the subjects of sentences if they can be extrapolated from earlier conversation or context, but the sentences are nonetheless still present (zero-subject).

Eh, that is a (quite widely accepted, certainly) linguistic theory. I've never found it particularly more convincing than the claim "All sentences contain direct objects; sentences without them, such as with intransitive verbs, have direct objects that can be extrapolated from earlier conversation, context, or from the verb itself."

I mean, really, are the syntactic expletives "it" as in "it is raining," or "it is important that you do well on the exam," "it seems that you love her," or "there" as in "there are four books" really subjects? It sometimes seems to me more that English syntactically requires a subject even when there really isn't one, and requires a dummy subject instead.

The zero-subject idea is to me a reasoning that comes from viewing all languages from a particular viewpoint, generally Anglocentric. One might as well reason from Japanese and argue that all sentences have topics (sometimes not expressed or inferred), but not necessarily subjects. It would be just as reasonable, in my view.

Paludicola-- Various Chinese languages do indeed omit the subject if it's clear from context far more than, for example, English. This is even more the case in formal written Chinese. "Literary" or "Classical" Chinese practically has no third person subject pronoun.

One of the most common errors for non-native speakers learning Chinese (at least those who are native speakers of English and related languages) is that they insert an explicit subject far more than necessary.

"The international language of science is broken English."

My impression is that southern China uses HK (or UK) English, while northern China often uses American English. When I was in Beijing, most students were learning American accents and pronunciation, while being confused by texts that mixed UK and US spellings and usage.

Shanghai seemed to be more UK-centric in English education, although interestingly, Shanghainese seem to have very little accent when speaking "Standard Midwestern" English - to the point where you have to watch yourself and remember that English isn't their first language.

I've often wondered if there's some linguistic affinity between Shanghai dialect and English.

The English language Entertainment/Media will likely have a normative effect on the adoption of alternative syntax by "non-native" speakers.

Easy translate. Many know Chinenglish already. Soon more know.

Chinenglish reminds me of Yoda-speak (mirroring the character Yoda in
the Star Wars movies).

Yoda-speak would be more like:

Easy to translate it is, yes. Yoda-speak already many know, they do. Soon
more know it they will, ho he ha ha.

foobarista: I've heard it said often that English is grammatically more similar to Chinese than to any European language, presumably by virtue of no declension (changing nouns based on case in a way that doesn't change the meaning) and little conjugation. go fig.

Common examples of Chinglish:

"Kitchen have food"

"Where are you come from?"

"Chinese food too delicious"

"You go where?"

It is enlightening!

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