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British English: "not any longer"


NinjaTurtle
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7 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Their English level is high (C1 - C2) but most still seem to think many American, British, Canadian CEO interviews are speaking incorrectly.

 

I tell my students they do not speak English, they speak Chinglish. Even though my class is a Business Writing Class, I spend a little bit of time every class teaching them the correct English equivalences to examples of Chinglish. It is a painful process.

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8 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

speaking "standard English" (whatever that means), without any Irish colloquialism or idiosyncrasies

 

Similarly, as a British English speaker who hasn't lived there for 8 years, on moving abroad — India at first — I quickly switched to a more "international English", avoiding idioms, metaphors etc that are not widely understood. (Aside: I found this negatively affects your ability to express your sense of humour!)

I've worked with largely international teams ever since, and finding a subset of English that works for everyone is important.

 

Teaching students how to negotiate different international usage/accents must be much harder though. I read US magazines in the 80s that frequently used idioms I didn't understand (and no Internet)... it took me years to work out what "upping the ante" meant.  

 

 

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It's interesting in this discussion that there is much sensitivity to the fact that English speakers from various regions recognize that others may use different words & expressions. 

 

Recently, I was talking with a Chinese friend in Shanghai and she noted before working with an American who had broad knowledge of Chinese usage, she hadn't realized how much diversity in expression there was regarding Mandarin in China.  (The American had gotten his MS in Applied Linguistics at Zhejiang Univ).  She had always lived in Shanghai and thought there right & wrong ways to say things and that other Chinese thought similarly.  To be clear, she was talking only about Mandarin, not the other topolects (she's a native Shanghainese).  She also reflected on the fact that she learned about the diversity from an American.

 

Her comment explained a little why I've learned a phrase from one friend and another has said "That's wrong!  No Chinese ever say that." 

 

Having a "standard accent" in China is very important and likely reflects some of this thinking (i.e., there is one RIGHT* way to speak....).  In contrast, the original question and many responses show that whether you are Irish, Canadian, English, American or other native English speaker, there is a recognition that English can vary much.  

 

*As one example:  Natives of Shengyang typically say "Sengyang (no sh-, just s-) and they are considered to be saying their city's name incorrectly.    

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3 hours ago, mungouk said:

finding a subset of English that works for everyone is important.

 

But "sanitizing"  American English and British English into one "International English" is a mistake. And I know people who are trying to do this. I always ask each of my students if they want to learn American English or British English, and I keep track of who is who when I speak to them. But I do NOT allow my students to mix American English and British English -- which many of them try to do. (One of the biggest problems is my students really have no idea between American English and British English. They really don't.) My students HAVE been taught one form of "sanitized English" which is Chinglish. (The problem of "worrying" about differences between American English and British English completely disappear when a person only speaks Chinglish.) And there is no doubt that their Chinglish teachers never teach them the differences between American English, British English, and Chinglish.

 

A. Do you ride the Metro?

B. Yes, I ride the subway everyday.

 

I feel no one has the right to tell A or B they are wrong, whether the discussion happens in the US, UK, or China.

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It’s somehow still amazing to me how many fundamental misconceptions about language your average language instructor may hold.

 

I am tempted to move all of this discussion into the previous thread about British vs American English because we have diverged quite far from the original question, which was answered quite quickly. If y’all feel like there is a fresh new take somewhere in there please feel free to start a fresh new thread. :)

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Well as far as I am concerned  you only ride a horse or a bike.

 

In the UK you take the underground, in Montreal, Canada you use/take the Metro. 

 

I never offer a friend a ride, always a lift, in my car and even on my motorbike its still a lift never a ride.

 

In the USA you do ride the subway, offer rides to people and even ride a train.

 

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, NinjaTurtle said:

My students HAVE been taught one form of "sanitized English" which is Chinglish. (The problem of "worrying" about differences between American English and British English completely disappear when a person only speaks Chinglish.) And there is no doubt that their Chinglish teachers never teach them the differences between American English, British English, and Chinglish.

Yes, there are many differences between English in different countries but they still all use correct grammar in their most standard representations of their language ie not dialects, dialects can be full of grammatical errors. But Chinglish is clearly full of grammatical mistakes that certainly need to be corrected.

 

8 hours ago, 陳德聰 said:

I am tempted to move all of this discussion into the previous thread about British vs American English because we have diverged quite far from the original question, which was answered quite quickly. If y’all feel like there is a fresh new take somewhere in there please feel free to start a fresh new thread. :)

Good point, I hadn't even noticed we've already drifted away from the original question somewhat. Might be a good idea to move some of this there.

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11 hours ago, NinjaTurtle said:

But "sanitizing"  American English and British English into one "International English" is a mistake.

 

I don't teach English, I use it in the workplace with international colleagues who need to understand each other.  Different context.

 

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As an English Brit, I would say

He doesn't live in this apartment any more. or,
He no longer lives in this apartment.

And yes, the word is usually "flat" in England rather than apartment, but both would be understood.

 

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On ‎11‎/‎6‎/‎2018 at 5:13 PM, Shelley said:

I never offer a friend a ride, always a lift, in my car and even on my motorbike its still a lift never a ride.

 

In the USA you do ride the subway, offer rides to people and even ride a train.

And in China, you "sit" 坐 when going everywhere, even when using an escalator.  This is not to criticize Chinese.  It's just what languages do; expressions and ways of saying things can take on a life of their own, often divorced of the original meaning.

 

Despite being able to identify different accents and some word use differences, I couldn't formally teach the differences between British, Australian, American.... English. Being able to teach the differences in syllable & word emphasis likely takes significant training.  

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21 minutes ago, Dawei3 said:

I couldn't formally teach the differences between British, Australian, American.... English. Being able to teach the differences in syllable & word emphasis likely takes significant training.  

 

Actually it's not too hard. I just find a British term that equals an American term and I teach it. I put up it on the board and ask them if it is British or American. (99% of the students have no clue.) I then ask which is it, British or American? (No clue.) Once we identify which it is, I ask for the corresponding term. (No clue.)

 

I have gathered a pretty good list and the list keeps growing. (Yes, Shelley, I will add your examples. Those are good examples.)

 

I go over five examples every class. Then we play a card game. I put the students in groups of four and pass out cards. They play the game. It is very effective and does not require high training at all. The whole activity takes less than 15 minutes (a good way to fill time in a 90-minute class).

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17 hours ago, XiaoXi said:

dialects can be full of grammatical errors

 

According to whom? Us big nosed toffs down in London?  The faceless bureaucrats in Beijing? 😜

 

I'm mostly teasing but this sort of thing is quite interesting to get into. As Dawei3 noted, even among native speakers of "the standard dialect" there is often a fair bit of variation not just on vocabulary but also on grammar. The class issues alone are extremely important and we all know what it signals when someone points out your incorrect use of who/whom, fewer/less (I had a minor crisis over whether to bother with the first sentence of this post for just that reason and I still don't know if it's correct). 

 

17 hours ago, XiaoXi said:

Yes, there are many differences between English in different countries but they still all use correct grammar in their most standard representations of their language ie not dialects, dialects can be full of grammatical errors. But Chinglish is clearly full of grammatical mistakes that certainly need to be corrected.

 

At what point does Chinglish stop being "wrong" and start being "different?"*   As you've already stated, English varies between different countries and that's fine. You wouldn't presume to tell an Australian that they're English is wrong, no matter how much it may rankle. But what about a Singaporean? What about a Jamaican (I suspect the "standard representation of their language" does not come close to representing the majority population)? It's a thorny  issue. I believe I've posted this here before but people actually feel quite strongly about this kind of stuff. There are already more non-native English speakers than there are natives (according to traditional definitions), so numerically we're already on the back foot.

 

*I know the likely answer to the above question is: "When Chinglish is someone's mother tongue." I'd tend to agree. But it's worth thinking about. I myself can be extremely judgemental about people's English, but I'm also terrified that I myself will be judged. Feels like one big neverending exercise in one-up-manship. 

These discussions always make me think of this. 🤣

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2 hours ago, LiMo said:

I've posted this here before

 

The article says, " In an investigation with over 1,200 Chinese students at her university, the writer discovered that the vast majority...[believe]...that proficiency in standard American or British English should be their goal."

 

I totally agree. I have taught thousands of Chinese students and I have never had one Chinese student who would rather learn Chinglish than American English or British English. (For that matter, I have never had a Japanese student who would rather learn Japanglish than American English or British English.)

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, LiMo said:

I know the likely answer to the above question is: "When Chinglish is someone's mother tongue." 

 

A good example is the English Creole spoken in Hawaii (called "Pidgin English"). For many people in Hawaii it is their native language. But is it fair to compare "Pidgin" and "Chinglish"?

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3 hours ago, LiMo said:

According to whom? Us big nosed toffs down in London?  The faceless bureaucrats in Beijing? 😜

Haha not really. For example, take American English which is taught all over the world. The English that is taught really won't differ very much and it goes without saying that dialect will not be taught. For example I doubt you'll find a book that teaches 'Aye' for yes (Scotland) or has 'damn' pronounced as 'dayum' (The South of USA).

 

If you're suggesting that there are a large number that can't speak standard English then I'm inclined to agree, but it happens everywhere and in every language. Here I am living Chengdu where it's rare to meet anyone who can even get the tones right in mandarin. If you're suggesting that the four tones in mandarin are not standard mandarin then I'm inclined to disagree. People get the tones wrong all over China, just as dialects break the rules of standard English, but it doesn't mean that their tones are actually correct just because they're natives.

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3 hours ago, LiMo said:

At what point does Chinglish stop being "wrong" and start being "different?"*   As you've already stated, English varies between different countries and that's fine. You wouldn't presume to tell an Australian that they're English is wrong, no matter how much it may rankle.

"that their English is wrong"....oh the irony.  :P  To be honest I've never really noticed much of a difference between an average Australian, an American, an Englishman etc in their English. I don't really even see the need for the term 'American English'. So they had a drunken night and changed some of the Ss to Zs in the spelling...it doesn't constitute a new language, especially since they didn't finish the job. All you notice is that the accent differs and they use Elevator instead or Lift or Semester instead of term. The grammar if it's not identical, then I've never noticed the difference. It's all the exact same language.

 

At what point Chinglish becomes different is when they start officially calling it Chinglish instead of English. You may as well ask at what point does Spanish become Portuguese...or more extreme, at what point does German become Hindu. In any case, I've never met a Chinese person who didn't want to improve their English, it's not like they're happy with saying everything 'incorrectly'.

4 hours ago, LiMo said:

But what about a Singaporean? What about a Jamaican (I suspect the "standard representation of their language" does not come close to representing the majority population)?

Well the fact Singaporeans are on the best English proficiency list along with other countries that don't speak English as their first language doesn't bode well for them. The fact they are not #1 either is even worse lol. I think countries where English has always been their native language are still gonna have a large advantage.

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1 hour ago, NinjaTurtle said:

I totally agree. I have taught thousands of Chinese students and I have never had one Chinese student who would rather learn Chinglish than American English or British English. (For that matter, I have never had a Japanese student who would rather learn Japanglish than American English or British English.)

Yes exactly, until their goal is to learn Chinglish then it doesn't exist and their goal is to learn the standard English that is written in the textbooks and recorded in the accompanying audio.

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