View Full Version : English...? No sh*t!

29th Mar 2002, 17:55
Doncha know the Queens English?. .Yeah, so I've been told.... .. .But, seriously (or not!), while taking one of my regular "constitutionals" around Cairns, Oz, this arvo, I started thinking about this as I overheard bits and pieces of various conversations conducted in what is generically referred to as the English language.. .. .I heard Aussie, Kiwi, American, British, Canadian, Dutch, German, Swedish and Japanese people at various times during my stroll. I reflected on the fact that I've heard much the same accents here over many years. Each using a language that is known around the world as English.. .. .I had the frivolous thought that it must really eat up Americans to know that the so-called English language is the only part of colonial occupation that their war of independence failed to eliminate. I also thought that I better not say THAT on PPRuNe.... .. .But, hey, even the English don't really speak English anyway. Need proof? There's Cockney English, there's the Geordie version ... and, as for what passes for English in Manchester, Coventry and Milton Keynes, well... <img border="0" title="" alt="[Big Grin]" src="biggrin.gif" /> . .. .I'm really not trying to be frivolous with this post. Nor am I trying to dump sh*t on any group of English speakers, no matter where they're from. English is not an easy language for people to learn. It presents many difficulties where, for example, the same word - even spelt the same way - can have two or even three different meanings, depending on context.. .. .For sure, there are other languages where context is important, if not crucial, to understanding what is said and written, so English doesn't have a monopoly on this problem.. .. .But, when you come right down to it, even tho Hollywood has done its best to date, American English hasn't yet become the universal form of the language. Indeed, words and expressions are vastly different even just between nominally English speaking nations such as America, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.. .. .We DO sometimes have trouble understanding each other, so it's little wonder that folks from any non-English-speaking background really have their work cut out for themselves in learning English, so they always get my respect. I'm constantly humbled by the realisation that there are many people around this planet who speak English as just one of several languages, while many people who's first language is English, have no other language skills at all.. .. .How did the world get to this stage with English?. .Where is the English language going in the future?. .Are there any simple fixes?. .Will Microsoft ever understand the difference anyway?. .. .All considered opinions are welcome!

Moritz Suter
29th Mar 2002, 18:06
Indeed!. .. .In answer to your questions in the order that you pose them, Mr. Expat.... .. .1. The appalling excesses of the British Army back when half of all world maps were coloured pink. (remember?). .2. Down the toilet rapidly....thank you unrestricted immigration and asylum policies.. .3. Yes, for England to first bomb, and then invade and permanently annex France. (Think of it as a rather major enlargement of Bournmouth). .4. Micro- what?. .. .MS.

Hagbard the Amateur
29th Mar 2002, 18:10
300 million people speak it as their mother tongue. Nobody knows how many people speak it as a second language. It has the second largest vocabulary in the world next to Chinese and to the consternation of people who think "English" is the type spoken by the British Queen, only two percent of first language English speakers speak with "recieved pronunciation."

Lima Tambo
29th Mar 2002, 18:15
On another thread they reckon that 3 per cent of British are Queens!

29th Mar 2002, 21:22
Hey Oz you usualy rooted to the spot when your rooted after being rooted by your rooted partner!

Hagbard the Amateur
29th Mar 2002, 21:48
LT, Yep, I've also flown with British airlines.

29th Mar 2002, 22:22
I don`t agree that English is a difficult language to learn, I managed with very little trouble. It does puzzle me that the French seem to have a problem. However, speaking loudly and slowly to them usually works.

30th Mar 2002, 07:12
Hey Oz, try explaining how we use different Explicitives(sp) in our normal day to day use of the Language. .. .:-) <img border="0" title="" alt="[Razz]" src="tongue.gif" />

30th Mar 2002, 08:30
Found English fairly easy to learn... being English helped.. .Learning French proved difficult. Always have trouble assigning the proper gender to almost every bloody word.. .Let's see, which is masculine and which is feminin?. Aircraft, pavement, flower, dog, asparagus, rubbish, skyscraper, toy, PPRuNE. Merde.

30th Mar 2002, 11:08
Mr Suter seems to be blaming British imperial conquest and colonialism, which is probably fair comment. After all, Spanish and French is still spoken in many parts of the world as a first language too. Perhaps those languages have been going thru similar growing pains?

I think that I can see how annexation of France might alleviate Britain's immigration problem. But why would England, let alone Bournemouth, want any part of France at all? There are better wines available in Australia these days. ;)

LT may have quoted the correct figures, but I'm not brave enuf to offer any comment! :eek: :D

Slash... to root around is undoubtedly the root of all the world's evils - unless you're with the root of the century! :D

Bombsaway ... I think Slash gave a far more eloquent example than I could ever possibly hope to come up with! :)

Anyway, so now we've got the situation where we can be as easily misunderstood by someone from the UK, the USA, Australia, New Zealand - and anywhere else where "English" is the nominal first language. Is it time we all got together to rationalise the language, in an effort to make it easier to understand, easier to learn and harder to misinterpret?

Is this just "mission impossible", or are we all having too much fun with all the misunderstandings to even WANT to make changes? I think it's high time that we heard from Tony Draper... :D

31st Mar 2002, 13:32
Hi OzEx!

hope the flight south is/was comfortable. I am very sorry that I can't be at OzBash to demonstrate to you my multilingualism.

I was brought up speaking Geordie - learned the Queen's version when I moved to London because people there either didn't understand me or asked if I was Welsh - then spent 20 years mastering OzEnglish. Or monstering it - depending on how much I've had to drink.

So - that gives me several opportunities to misunderstand myself. The alarming thing is I have spent nearly 20 years teaching speakers of other languages this strange hybrid idiolect (technical term with no reference to idiocy). That may explain some of the misunderstandings you refer to.

Have a G&T for me and please pass on my regards to Binos and GG.



31st Mar 2002, 23:34
OMG RV6 , you're a Geordie too? That what my ancestors were. I've been to Geordieland several times and STILL can't understand 'em! Specially after a Newcassel Broon or 20!:D

Very sorry you're gunna miss Ozbash, but I'll certainly have a G+T for ya ... now, lemme see here ... that makes ... how many drinks on me first night in MEL? :eek: :eek: :D

1st Apr 2002, 10:26
Well OzEx

You're part geordie too! That explains why we got along so well when we first started chatting! Not a true geordie, though - as I noticed your communications tailed off when you'd clearly established my marital status :D

Back in Geordie land that sort of thing doesn't matter because it's so cold - any port in a storm :)

By the way - I still owe you some postcards - I will send them eventually.

Have fun - take care and enjoy yourself!



3rd Apr 2002, 03:13
I've done the next best thing RV6 ... had a G+T for ya! Had to have one for each of many others who couldn't be here, but to be true to me Geordie "roots", the first was for you! :)

Quick! Somebody pass me the Panadol... :eek: :D

3rd Apr 2002, 08:55
Thanks OzEx! you're a true gent.

Actually, I did raise a glass or 3 of champagne for you guys last night. Hubby was here on a night stop so I met up with him at his hotel. Wouldn't I have looked silly if I'd sneaked off to Melbourne as I'd originally intended :eek:

So, I can sympathise on the hangover front - keep up the good work! I look forward to the photos.