Is Chinglish Just English ‘Happily Leading an Alternative Lifestyle Without Us?’

Travel Blog  •  Michael Yessis  •  07.01.08 | 10:57 AM ET

imagePhoto by Augapfel, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Consider the numbers: By 2020, it’s estimated that 2 billion people worldwide will be learning or using English, yet only 15 percent of them will be native speakers. Thus, according to an intriguing story by Michael Erard in Wired, English will evolve, with pieces of Chinglish, Singlish and other mash-ups native speakers often poke fun at comprising large chunks of the world’s most dominant language. The fracturing isn’t unique. For instance, see: Latin.

“But what’s happening to English may be its own thing: It’s mingling with so many more local languages than Latin ever did, that it’s on a path toward a global tongue—what’s coming to be known as Panglish,” writes Erard. “Soon, when Americans travel abroad, one of the languages they’ll have to learn may be their own.”

1 Comment for Is Chinglish Just English ‘Happily Leading an Alternative Lifestyle Without Us?’

HS 07.01.08 | 2:46 PM ET

As an English professor who has taught in northeast Asia, I have often reflected on the parallel between Latin’s morphing into the romance languages and what is happening with global English today.  However, based on my classroom memories and encounters with Chinese menus, I don’t think these local Englishes will ever develop into languages capable of highly literate expression.  They seem doomed to mere ways of getting by.

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