Wait if 50% of the world badly needed a certain communication tool, but only 5% could have it?
Someone would find a way. For example, to solve the problem of talking, they gave us handsets for little money and charge us by the minute. But that only does part of it. What will we say to each other?
The English Language seems to be the most important communication tool for the international world. But now it must be a kind of English which can be learned quickly and used very easily – not like Standard English. The people who know a little are already using what they know. It works for them – a little but … they often have families and jobs. They cannot spend enough time or enough money to learn all of English. And English speakeres thinks these people will “never be good enough” in English. It is a problem. We think Globish is a solution.
Globish has a different name because it is a very different way to solve the problem of learning English. Using the standards of the Council of Europe Framework of Reference for Languages:
Globish speakers will use an amount of English that makes understanding between non-native speakers and native speakers. They will produce clear, detailed writing on a wide range of subjects and explain their thoughts, giving good and bad elements of various ideas.
This book is about Globish and to demonstrate its value, we’ll write this book for you in Globish.
Part1 The Problem with Learning English
Many, Many Languages
A hundred years ago, most human beings could speak two or more languages. At home they spoke a family language. It could be the language their parents spoke when they moved from another place. In many cases, it was a local variation of a language with different words and different pronunciations, what some people might call a dialect or patois. Most villages had such languages. People learned family languages, village languages and sometimes other languages without any problems.
A century ago, for most people the world was not very big, perhaps as big as their nation. They learned their national language and then could communicate with the rest of their world. Many nations had at least one official national language. Many people in their village also felt a need to speak the national language, and they would learn that national language in schools.
National language made nation-wide communication possible. In some cases these started as one of the local dialects and were raised to the status of national languages. Or sometimes one “family” was more powerful, and required everyone to speak their way.
Today, the communication problem is the same. Just the scale is different. A century ago, their world was their country. Now their world is … much more. Most people now speak a local language which is often their national language. Now they must communicate to the whole globe.
In this world, teachers say there are more than 6000 languages. In 45 countries, English is an official language. But not everyone speaks English, even where it is an official language. Only 12% of the global world has English as a mother tongue, our mother tongue. For 88% of us, it is not our first language, our mother tongue.
We know that only 4% of international communication is between native speakers from different English-speaking nations – like Americans and Australians. So 96% of the international English communication takes place with at least one non-native speaker.
There is a story about a god and a Tower of Babel, where all men could speak to each other using just one language. In the story, he stopped the building of that special Tower. He said:
“Look, they are one people, and they have all one language. This is only the beginning of what they will do. Nothing that they want to do will be impossible now. Come, let us go down and mix up their languages so they will not understand each other.”
In the past, there have been many strong languages and attempts to create a common worldwide language. Some worked well, but some not all. The Greek language was used as the “lingua franca” in the days of the Romans. Non-Romans and others read the first Christian books in Greek. Modern Romans speak Italian, but until lately Catholics celebrated Christian ceremonies in Latin, the language of the ancient Romans.
French was the language of upper class Europeans for several hundred years. It was used for international government relations until 1918. Many thought it was clearly the best language for all international communication. Tsarina Catherine of Russia and Frederick the great of Prussia used to speak and write very good French, and made a point to use it with foreigners. A friendly competition took place at the King’s court in France in 1853 to find the person who used the best French. The winner was not Emperor Napoleon the Third, or his wife Eugenie. Instead, it was the Austrian statesman Klemens Wenzel von Metternich.
About this time, in the Age of Reason, humans began to think they could do anything. They discovered drugs that would cure diseases. They coul grow food in all weather. Their new stream-ships could go anywhere without wind. So then some people though: How difficult could it be to create a new language, one that would be easy and useful for all people?
Chapter – people divide large books into smaller chapters
Dialect – a different way of speaking a mother tongue
Patois – a way of speaking in one region
Lingua franca – a Latin word for a global language
Pronunciation – the way we say sounds when we speak
Planet – a space globe that moves around the Sun
Esperanto vs … the World?
Natural languages come from unwritten languages of long ago, in the Stone Age. They are easy to learn naturally but hard to learn as a student. That is why many people have tried to invent a simple language that is useful and simple to learn. Perhaps the most famous of these invented languages is “Esperanto.” It was developed between 1880 and 1890 by Doctor Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof. He was a Russian eye doctor in Poland. He said his goal was to create communication and culture-sharing among all the people of the world. He thought the result would be understanding by everyone. That would mean everyone would have sympathy with everyone else and this would avoid future wars.
Here is a example of Esperanto:
En multaj lokoj de Cinio estis temploj de drakorego. Dum trosekeco oni pregis en la temploj, ke la drako-rego donu pluvon al la homa mondo.
Easy for you to say … perhaps. But there was one big problem with Esperanto. No one could speak it. Well, not really no one.
After more than a century, there are about 3 million people who can speak Esperanto. And that is in a world of nearly 7 billion people. Sadly, many wars later, we have to admit the idea did not work as expected. For a while, Esperanto was an official project in the USSR, and in the People’s Republic of China. It is long forgotten in those countries now. There are no Esperanto guides in the Moscow or Shanghai railway stations to help passengers find their trains. We can only wonder what the world would be like if the Soviets had chosen Globish instead…
There are still people who believe in Esperanto. They still have their “special” language. Sometimes Esperantists make news when they speak out against Globish — using English, of course. Thus any major newspaper story about Globish and Esperanto clearly demonstrates that Esperanto is not working. And it helps show that Globish gives us an opportunity to have – finally – a real global communication tool.
Million = 1,000,000
Billion = 1,000,000,000
It would be difficult for all people in the world to have one official language. Who would say what that language must be? How would we decide? Who would “own” the language?
Most people today speak only their one national language. This is especially true with native English speakers. They observe that many people in other countries try to speak English. So they think they do not need to learn any other language. It appears to be a gift from their God that they were born ready for international communication. Perhaps, unlike others in the world, they do not have to walk half the distance to communicate with other cultures. Perhaps English IS the place everyone else must come to. Perhaps … All others are unlucky by birth. But perhaps there is more to the story…
It does seem English has won the competition of global communication. Although it used to give people an edge in international business, one observer now states it this way:
“It has become a new baseline: without English you are not even in the race.”
So now the competition is over. No other language could be more successful now. Why is that?
The high situation of English is now recognized because communication is now global, and happens in one second. There have been periods in history where one language seemed do have worldwide acceptance. But, in all these periods, the “world” covered by one of these languages was not the whole planet. Chinese was not known to Greeks in the time of the Roman Empire. The hundreds of Australian languages were not known to Europeans when they settled there. Japanese people did not learn and speak French in the 18th century. Then, much communication was a matter of time and distance. Now, for the first time, communication has no limits on our Earth. 200 years ago it took more than six months to get a message from Auckland, New Zealand, to London. In our global world, a message goes from Auckland to London in less than a second.
As Marshall McLuhan said in his book The Guttenberg Galaxy, this world is now just the size of a village – a “global village.” In a village,all people communicate in the language of the village. All nations now accept English as the communication for our global village.
Some people dislike that fact a lot. They want to keep their language, and even to avoid English. And, there are people who do not care at all, and they do not see what is happening or what it means. Finally ,there are people who accept it, and even benefit from it. Many Chinese, Spanish and German people realize their language is not global and so they are learning English. They speak about their wonderful culture in English but they also continue to speak their first language.
We can be very confident this situation will not change. With all the people now learning English as a second language, and there will be no need to change. As in the past, people will speak more than one language as children.
Leading economic powers, such as China, Brazil, India, Russia, and Japan will have many people speaking English. No one is going to win markets now with military battles.
And no one will need to change languages, as used to happen. How nations will try to win hearts and minds with their better, less expensive products. It is a new world now, and maybe a better one.
To communicate worldwide, these people will use varying qualities of English. But once they master “a reasonable amount” of English they will not want or need to require others to use their mother tongue. So English will certainly continue to be the most important international language. The economic winners today or tomorrow will use their English well enough so that they don’t need anything else. This “common ground” is what everybody will continue to agree on…
Still, many people will continue to learn Chinese or Spanish or Russian. They will do this to understand other cultures. But it will be of less help in doing worldwide business. In an international meeting anywhere, there will always be people who do not speak the local language. Everyone in this meeting will then agree to change back to English, because everyone there will have acceptable English.
Today, Mandarin Chinese is the language with the most speakers. After that is Hindi, and then Spanish. All three of them have more native speakers than English. But Hindi speakers talk to Chinese speakers in English and Spanish speakers communicate to Japanese speakers in English. They cannot use their own languages so they must use the most international language to do current business. That is why English is now locked into its important position the world over.
Sometimes we wonder if it is good that English won the language competition. We could argue that it is not the right language. It is far too difficult, with far too many words (615,000 words in the Oxford English Dictionary …and they add more each day.) Too many irregular verbs. The grammar is too difficult. And most importantly, English does not have good links between the written and the spoken language. Why do the letters “ough” have four different pronunciations (“ cough, tough, though, through ”)
Why is a different syllable stressed in photograph, photography and photographer? And why is there not a stress mark? Why doesn’t “Infamous” sound like “famous?” or “wilderness” like “wild?” Why isn’t “garbage” pronounced like “garage”, or “heathen” like “heather”?
English was never expected to make sense to the ear. Pronunciation in English is a horrible experience when you have not been born into that culture. Yet it appears to sound natural to native English speakers.
Grammar – the structure of words in a sentence.
Pronounce – to speak accurate sounds in a language.
Stress – making a heavy tone on one syllable of a word.
Syllable – a part of a word you are saying
Paradox – something that sounds correct but is really the opposite like: winning is really losing.
Verb – the part of speech that tells the action in a sentence
Pajamas – clothes you wear to bed at night
Some languages, like Italian, German, and Japanese, can match written words to the way they are spoken. So it may appear unlucky for us that one of them did not win it all. Italian, for example, is a language where every letter, and every group of letters, is always pronounced the same way. When you are given an Italian document, you can pronounce it once you understand a limited number of fixed rules. In English you have to learn the pronunciation of every word. Many English words are borrowed from other languages, and they sometimes keep their old pronunciation and sometimes not. English words cannot be written so the stressed syllables are shown. All non-native English speakers know that they may have to sleep without clothes if they try to buy “pajamas.” Where is the mark to show what we stress in “pajamas?” So, the borrowed wors “pajamas” would be better written as pa-JA-mas. In English you must learn exactly which syllable gets the stress, or no one understands you.
But Italian, German, or Japanese did not win the language competition. English did. Luckily, this does not mean that there are people who won and people who lost. In fact, we will show that the people whose language seemed to win did not, in fact, improve their positions. The other people won, and those non-native speakers will soon win even more. This is one of the many “Globish Paradoxes.”
The Native Speakers’ Edge is Their Problem
Speaking an extra language is always good. It makes it easier to admit that there are different ways of doing things. It also helps to understand other cultures, to see why they are valued and what they have produced. You can discover a foreign culture through travering and translation. But truly understanding is another thing: that requires some mastery of its language to talk with people of the culture, and to read their most important books. The “not created here” idea comes from fear and dislike of foreign things and culture. It makes people avoid important ideas and new ways of working.
Native English speakers, of course, speak English most of the time – with their families, the people they work with, their neighbors, and their personal friends. Sometimes they talk to non-native speakers in English, but most English speakers do not do this often. On the other hand, a Portuguese man speaks English most often with non-native English speakers. They all have strange accents. His ears become sympathetic. He learns to listen and understand and not be confused by the accent. He learns to understand a Korean, a Scotsman or a New Zealander with strong local accents. And he learns to understand the pronunciations of others learning English. Often, he understands accents much better than a native English speaker.
It is a general observation that the person who already speaks five languages has very little difficulty learning the sixth one. Even the person who masters two languages is in a much better position to learn a third one than the countryman or countrywoman who sticks only to the mother tongue. That is why it is too bad people no longer speak their local patois. The practice almost disappeared during the 20th century.
Scientists tell us that having a second language seems to enable some mysterious brain connections which are otherwise not used at all. Like muscles with regular exercise, these active connections allow people to learn additional foreign languages more easily.
Now that so many people migrate to English-speaking countries, many of the young people in those families quickly learn English. It is estimated, for example, that 10% of all younger persons in the UK still keep another language after they learn English. Probably similar figures are available in the US. Those children have an extra set of skills when speaking to other new English language learners.
The British Council is the highest authority on English learning and speaking. It agrees with us in its findings. David Graddol of the British Council is the writer of English Next, which is a major study from the British Council. Graddol said (as translated into Globish) :
“(Current findings) … should end any sureness among those people who believe that the global position of English is completely firm and protected. We should not have the feeling that young people of the United Kingdom do not need abilities in additional languages besides English.”
“Young people who finish school with only English will face poor job possibilities compared to able young people from other countries who also speak other languages. Global companies and organizations will not want young people who have only English.
Anyone who believes that native speakers of English remain in control of these developments will be very troubled. This book suggests that it is native speakers who, perhaps, should be the most worried. But the fact is that the future development of English is now a global concern and should be troubling us all.
English speakers who have only English may not get very good jobs in a global environment, and barriers preventing them from learning other languages are rising quickly. The competitive edge (personally, organizationally, and nationally) that English historically provided people who learn it, will go away as English becomes a near-universal basic skill.
English-speaking ability will no longer be a mark of membership in a select, educated, group. Instead, the lack of English now threatens to leave out a minority in most countries rather than the majority of their population, as it was before.
Native speakers were thought to be the “gold standard” (idioms remain in this section); as final judges of quality and authority. In the new, quickly-appearing environment, native speakers may increasingly be identified as part of the problem rather than being the basic solution. Non-native speakers will feel these “golden”native speakers are bringing along “cultural baggage” of little interest, or as teachers are “golf-plating” the teaching process.
Traditionally, native speakers of English have been thought of as providing the authoritative standard and as being the best teachers. Now, they may be seen as presenting barriers to the free development of global English.
We are now nearing the end of the period where native speakers can shine in their special knowledge of the global “lingua franca.”
Now David Graddol is an expert on this subject. But he is also an Englishman. It would be difficult for him – or any native English speaker – to see all that non-native speakers see…and see differently.
For example, non-native speakers see how native English speakers believe that their pronunciation is the only valid one. Pronunciation is not easy in English. There are versions of English with traditional or old colonial accents. Many different British accents were mixed in the past with local languages in colonies such as America, India, South Africa, Hong Kong, Australia, or New Zealand. Today more accents are becoming common as English gets mixed with the accents from other languages. Learners of English often have to struggle to hear “native” English and then to manage the different accents. Learners often learn English with the older colonial accents or newer accents. Not many people now speak English like the Queen of England.
Also, native speakers often use their local idioms as if they are universal. (Like saying that someone who dies is “biting the dust”. How long does it take to explain what these really mean? The modern global citizen does not need language like that.)
Non-native speakers also observe this: that most native speakers believe they are English experts because they can speak English so easily. Language schools in non-English-speaking countries often have native English speakers as teachers. They are said to be the “gold standard” (an idiom!) in English. But these native speakers are not always trained teachers. Often all they have is their ability to pronounce words. They do not know what it is like to learn English. In the end result, a teacher needs to know how to teach. So sometimes non-native English speakers become better teachers of English than people with the perfect UK, or US, or South African English pronunciation.
In the past, English schools have made a lot of money using native speakers to teach English. Thus the students always work towards a goal that is always out of reach. Probably none of these students will ever speak the Queen’s English. To achieve that you must be born not far from Oxford or Cambridge. Or, at a minimum, you must have learned English when your voice muscles were still young. That means very early in your life, before 12 years old. Learning to speak without an accent is almost impossible. You will always need more lessons, says the English teacher who wants more work.
But here is the good news: Your accent just needs to be “understandable” … not perfect. Learners of English often need to stop and think about what they are doing. It is wise to remember to ask: how much English do I need? Do I need all the fine words and perfect pronunciation? Perhaps not …
Idiom – a term for the use of colorful words which may not be understood by non – native speakers.
Lesson – one section of a larger course of study
Migrate – to move your home from one country to another. Also: an immigrant is a person who migrates.
The English Learners’ Problem… Can Be Their Edge
Some very expert English speakers take pride in speaking what is called “plain” English. They recommend we use simple English words, and to avoid foreign, borrowed words for example. So speaking plain English is not speaking bad English at all, and might even be speaking rather good English. Using unusual or difficult words does not always mean you know what you are talking about. In many cases, “plain” English is far more useful than other English. The term “Plain English” is the name of a small movement, but the term is most often used between native speakers to tell each other that the subject is too difficult. They say: “Just tell me in plain English!”
It is very important, on the other hand, to speak correct English. Correct English means using common English words in sentences that have reasonably good meanings. Of course, everyone makes mistakes now and then, but a good goal is to say things in a correct way using simple words. This makes it easier to say things that are useful.
Of course, we know that we say things well enough if people understand what we say. So we need to observe a level of usage and correctness in English which is “enough” for understanding. Less is not enough. And “more than enough” is too much – too difficult – for many people to understand. Most public messages – such as advertisements use fairly common words and fairly simple English. The messages often cost a lot so it is important everyone understands them. On television, time for messages can cost huge amounts so the English used is chosen very carefully. The American Football Super Bowl in the US has advertisements that are very easy to understand. The advertisers pay $2,000,000 a minute for their advertisements, so they want to be sure people understand!
There is a level fo English that is acceptable for most purposes of understanding. This is the level that Globish aims to show. As we will see in greater detail, Globish is a defined subset of English. Because it is limited, everyone can learn the same English words and then they can understand each other. Globish uses simple sentence structures and a small number of words , so that means you have to learn less. And it can be expanded easily when people choose to do this.
The Globish word list has 1500 words. They have been carefully chosen from all the most common words in English. They are listed in the middle of this book. In the Oxford English Dictionary there are about 615000 entries. So how could 1500 words be enough? This book – in Globish – uses those 1500 basic words and their variations.
This list of 1500, of course, will also accept a few other words which are tied to a trade or an industry: call them “technical words.” (Technical is a technical word.) Some technical words are understood everywhere. In the computer industry, words like web and software are usually known by everyone, They are from English or are made up, like Google. And in the cooking industry, many words are French, like “saute” or “omelette”.
Globish also uses words that are already international. Travelers communicate using words like “pizza”, “hotel”, “police”, “taxi”, “stop”, “restaurant”, “toilets”, and “photo”.
1500 is a lot of words, because English has been a language where words “father” words. The children words of the first 1500 words are easy to learn. For instance, “care” is the father of “careful, carefully, carefulness, careless, carelessly, carelessness, uncaring m caretaker, etc…” It is the same with “use” and hundreds of other words. If you count all the fathers and their children you find over 5,000 Globish words.
Expect say most native English speakers use only about 3,500 words. Well-educated speakers may know many more words but probably only use about 7,500 words. It is demonstrated that even native speakers with high education say 80% of what they have to say with only 20% of their word-wealth. This is only one good example of a universal law called the “Pareto Principle”, named after its Paris-born inventor. The Pareto Principle states: For all things that happen, 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes. So, 20% of the educated native speaker’s 7500 word wealth is … 1500. So with 1500 words, you may communicate better than the average native English speaker, and perhaps as well as the highly-educated one-for 80% of the ideas. For the 20% left over, in Globish you can use a definition instead. You will not say “my nephew”, as this could be too difficult in many non-English speaking countries. You will say instead: “the son of my brother”. It will be all right.
But where did the 1500 words come from ?
Various lists of most-commonly-used english words have suggested the 1500 basic words of Globish. However, the value of a set of words should not be by the place they come from but how well we use them. On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama made his Presidential Inauguration Speech. Now, in the Appendix of this book, you can see the words he used – alongside Globish words. Take a look at Obama’s original speech side-by-side with a version with shorter sentences and only the words of Globish. The non-Globish words that Obama used are marked. You can read the speech in Globish, and decide if Globish can be used to say important things.
Obama’s speech in Globish shows that Globish is not poor English. Globish is correct English and it can communicate with the greatest number of people all over the world. Of course, native English speakers can understand it very quickly because it is English. And even better: they usually do not notice that it is Globish. But non-native English speakers do see the difference: they understand the Globish better than the English they usually hear from native English speakers.
Technical – with a scientific basis, ur used by a profession
Pizza – an Italian food most places in the world
Hotel – a place to stay which rents many rooms by the night
Police – men or women who make certain you follow the law
Taxi – a car and driver you rent to take you individual places
Restaurant – a place to eat where you buy single meals
Toilets – places to wash hands and do other necessary
Photo – a picture taken with a camera
Piano – a large box with many keys to make music with
Saute – French way of cooking; makes meat or vegetables soft
Omelette – a way of cooking meals with eggs
The Value of a Middle Ground
There is a story about one of the authors. He worked for an American oil exploration company in his youth. He did not grow up in Oklahoma or Texas like the other workers. One time he had to work with map makers in the high plains of Wyoming. There, the strong winds are always the enemy of communications.
His job was to place recording devices on a long line with the map makers. He would go ahead first with a tall stick, and the oil company map makers behind would sight the stick from far away. They waved at him, to guide him left or right. Then he would shout out the number of the device he planted there, on that straight line. The wind was very loud and he had to shout over it. But often the map makers from Oklahoma and Texas would just shake their heads. They could not understand what he shouted. The boy couldn’t talk right – they said.
Then one night, all the man had drinks together. They said they did not want to fire him, but they could not understand his numbers in the wind. After a few more drinks, they decided they could be language teachers. They taught him a new way to count, so the wind would not take away the numbers when he shouted them.
Some of the numbers in the new dialect of English sounded familiar, but others were totally different: (1)”wuhn” (2)”teu” (3)”thray” (4)”foar” (5)”fahve” (6)”seex” (7)”sebn” (8)”ate” (9)”nahne” (10)”teeyuhn” (11)”lebn”, and on like that. The map-makers were very happy, and not just because of the drinks. They had saved more than a job. They felt they had saved a soul. They had taught someone to “talk right” as they knew it.
Many people have experiences like this. If we do not speak different languages or dialects, at least we speak differently at times. We can copy different accents. Sometimes we speak in new ways to make it easier for others to understand us, and sometimes to sound like others so we are more like them. We often use different ways of speaking for jokes.
It should be easy to use Globish – the same words for everyone everywhere in the world. One language for everyone would be the best tool ever. It would be a tool for communication in a useful way. It might not be as good for word games as English, or as good for describing deep feelings. But Globish would be much better for communication between – or with – people who are not native English speakers. And, of course, native English speakers could understand it too.
So Globish makes an effective tool. You’ll be able to do almost anything with it, with a good understanding of what it is and how it works.
But Globish does not aim to be more than a tool, and that is why it is different from English. English is a cultural language. It is a very rich language. It sometimes has 20 different words to say the same thing. And it has a lot of different ways of using them in long, long sentences. Learning all the rest of English is a lifetime of work but there is a good reward. People who learn a lot of English have a rich world of culture to explore. They do a lot of learning and can do a lot with what they learn.
But Globish does not aim so high. It is just meant to be a neccesary amount. Globish speakers will enjoy travel more, and can do business in Istanbul, Kiev, Madrid, Seoul, San Francisco and Edinburgh.
This will be worth repeating:
Globish is ”enough” and less than Globish would be not enough. But more than Globish could be too much, and when you use too much English, many people will not understand you.
This confuses some people, especially English teachers. They say: “How is better English, richer English, not always better? ” English teachers like people to enjoy the language, to learn more and more English. It is their job.
When we see native speakers speak English it seems so easy. We think it should be easy for non-native speakers too. But when we look at English tests, we see that all kinds of English are used. There is no clear level of English, just more and more of it. For example, the TOEIC(Test of English for International Communication) does not tell you when you are ready. It does not say when you have “acceptble” English. Globish is a standard that you can reach. A Globish test can tell you if you have a required amount of language to communicate with other people. That is what brings “understanding” – and either we have it, or we don’t.
The British Council says (in Globish again):
“For ELF (English as a Lingua Franca) being understood is most important, rather more important than being perfect. The goal of English – within the ELF idea – is not a native speaker but a good speaker of two languages, with a national accent and some the special skills to achieve understanding with another non-native speaker.”
These non-native speakers, in many cases, speak much less perfect English than native speakers. Speaking with words that go past the words they understand is the best way to lose them. It is better then, to stay within the Globish borders. It is better to do that than to act as if you believe that the best English shows the highest social status. With Globish, we are all from the same world.
The Beginnings of Globish
The most important thing about Globish is that it started with non-native English speakers. Some English professor could have said “I will now create Globish to make English easy for these adults who are really children.” Then Globish would not be global, but just some English professor’s plaything. But the true Globish idea started in international meetings with British, Americans, continental Europeans, and Japanese, and then Koreans. The communication was close to excellent between the British and the Americans. But it was not good between these two and the other people. Then there was a big surprise: the communication between the last three groups, continental Europeans, Japanese, and Koreans, was among the best. There seemed to be one good reason: they were saying things with each other that they would have been afraid to try with the native English speakers – for fear of losing respect. So all of these non-native speakers felt comfortable and safe in what sounded like English, but was far from it.
But those non-native English speakers were all talking to each other. Yes, there were many mistakes. And yes, the pronunciation was strange. The words were used in unusual ways. Many native English speakers think English like this is horrible. However, the non-native speakers were enjoying their communication.
But as soon as one of the English or Americans started speaking, everything changed in one second. The non-native speakers stopped talking; most were afraid of speaking to the native English speakers. None of them wanted to say a word that was incorrect.
It is often that way across the world. Non-native English speakers have many problems with English. Some native English speakers non-natives speak “broken English.” In truth, non-native English speakers talk to each other effectively because they respect and share the same limitations.
The Frenchman and the Korean know they have similar limitations. They do not use rare, difficult – to – understand English words. They choose words that are “acceptable” because they are the easiest words they both know. Of course, these are not always those of the native speakers, who have so many more words to choose from.
The idea of Globish came from this observation: limitations are not always a problem. In fact, they can be useful, if you understand them. Jean-Paul Nerriere could see that “if we can make the limitations exactly the same, it will be as if there are no limitations at all”. He decided to record a limited set of words and language that he observed in most non-English speakers. He then suggested that people from various mother tongues can communicate better if they use these carefully chosen limitations. Globish is that “common ground.”
This theory of limitations is not as strange as it might seem at first. Most human activities have some limitations.
The World Cup is one of the most-watched competitions in the world, because its set of “limitations” makes it a great game for everyone. In this game of foot-ball, players must use their feet most of the time to control the ball, so tall people and people with big arms do not always win. Some people say it is dancing with the ball; the limitations make it beautiful.
Ballet, of course, has limitations too; it is what you say with your body. And people of every language enjoy both of these. The beauty happens when the limitations are the same. Globish is about having the same limitations, so there is no limit to what can be communicated between people speaking or writing or reading Globish.
We hope the dancers will not start singing in ballets. But what happens when you can your hands in “foot-ball?” Then – mostly in the English-speaking cultures – we see their American football and Rugby football. These do not have the limitations of playing only with their feet. Not as many people in the world can sit together and enjoy watching. It is not something they all can share, all knowing the same limitations.
The limitations of Globish also make it easier to learn, easier to find a word to use. Native English speakers seem to have too many words that say the same thing and too many ways to say it.
So communication between non-native speakers can be much more effective when they are using Globish. And if non-native and native speakers use Globish between themselves, both of them will understand. Most people would think that native English speakers could know how to speak Globish in one second. But that is not true. Native English speakers who use too many words in too many ways are, in fact, missing a huge opportunity to communicate with the world.
The British Council tells us (here in Globish)
“People have wondered for years whether English is so solid in international communication that even the rise of China could not move it from its high position. The answer is that there is already a new language, which was being spoken quietly while native-speakers of English were looking the other way. These native-speakers of English were too happy when they thought their language was the best of all. The new language that is pushing out the language of Shakespeare as the world’s Lingua Franca is English itself – English in its new global form. As this book (English Next) shows, this is not English as we have known it, and have taught it in the past as a foreign language. It is a new happening, and if it represents any kind of winning, it will probably not be the cause of celebration by native English speakers.”
The British Council continues (in our Globish):
“In organizations where English has become the business language, meetings sometimes go more smoothly when no native speakers are present. Globally, the same kind of thing may be happening, on a larger scale. This is not just because non-native speakers fear to talk to a native speaker. The change is that soon the problem may be that few native speakers will be accepted in the community of lingua franca users. The presence of native English speakers gets in the way of communication.”
Strangely, many native English speakers still believe they can do all things better than non-native speakers just because they speak better English. How long will it take for them to understand that they are wrong? They have a problem that they are not able to understand. They do not see that many non-native speakers simply cannot understand them. This does not mean the native speaker’s English is bad. It means that their communication is bad; sometimes they do not even attempt to make their communication useful to everyone. Often they don’t know how.
We want everyone to be able to speak to and understand everyone. There is a middle ground, but the native English speakers are not the ones drawing the borders. And because you may not be able to say this to a native speaker, who might not be able to understand – we will say it here.
To belong to the international community, a native English speaker must:
●understand …. What is explained in this book,
●accept … That it is the fact of a new world which has many new powers that will be as the English-speaking countries,
●dicide to change with this new reality, in order to still be a member.
Whenever a native English speaker acts as if you are the stupid one, please give them this book. If they choose to take no notice of their problem, they will be left out of communication. They will be left out of activities with others – worldwide – if they do not learn to “limit” the way they use their language. English speakers need to limit both spoken and written English for communication with non-native English speakers. In short, they too need to “learn” Globish. It is not an easy exercise, but it can be done. Some of this book will help them.
Globish has a special name
It is very important that the Globish name is not “English for the world” or even “Simple English.” If its name were any kind of English, the native English speakers would say. “OK, we won. Now all you have to do is speak better English.” Without the name Globish, they will not understand it is a special kind of English, and it is no longer “their” English. Most native English speakers who understand this should decide they like it. Hopefully they will say: “Now I understand that I am very lucky. Now my language will be changed a little for the rest of the world. Let me do my best, and they can do their best, and we will meet in the middle.”
So Globish is a word that tells native English speakers – and non-native speakers – that Globish has a different meaning. Globish is the global language, the language people everywhere can speak. Globish is a name to say that there are limits which everyone can learn. There is a clear set of things they need to learn. And when they learn them, they are done.
Language is equal on this Globish middle ground. No one has an edge. No one can be above anyone can offer the best ideas with all of his or her professional and personal abilities. Globish will be a foreign language to everyone, without exception. It is not “broken English.” It is another version of English to which no native English speaker was born.
We all come together here.
Is Globish More Useful than English?
We talk a lot about international communication, but Globish is also important for national communication. In many countries, people speak several languages that are all important. Swiss people speak German, Italian, French or Romansh. Belgians speak French, German, Dutch or Flemish. The largest countries like India, and Russia, and China each have many local languages. Israelis speak Hebrew or Arabic. In many cases, all those people only know their own language. They cannot communicate together because they know only one language; their own. In some countries, even people who can speak another language try not to speak it. It is the language of a group they do not like.
In all those cases, Globish is the solution. It is much better defined than the “broken English” which is left over from sad school days. Already, in many of these countries, people try to communicate in English just because it is neutral. It is not the language of any one group. Globish is good for them because it offers a solution and is easy to learn.
For people who do not have the time or the money for a full english program, Globish is good. Its plain and simple English will work for them. With Globish they can learn what they need – but no more. They also like the idea of Globish because it is a solution for the person in the street. English, in most cases, is available for educated people, the upper class. In these countries with more than one language, the rich can travel, and the rich can send their children to study in English-speaking countries. The poorest people also need English, to get ahead in their nation and the world, but they do not have the same resources. Globish will allow the people inside nations to talk more, and do more business there and with the rest of the world. That is the result of Globish – more national talk and more global talk.
What makes Globish more inviting is that people can use it very soon. The learners quickly learn some Globish, then more, then most of what they need, and finally all of it. So, Fast Early Progress(FEP) and a Clear End Point(CEP) improve the student’s wish to continue. The Return On Effort(ROE) is just as important as ROI(Return On Investment) is for a business person. In fact, they are very much alike.
An investor wants to see a valuable return, and a pathway to get there, and a defined end point. In this case, however, every person can be an investor in his or her own future. The average person in the street has valuable skills or ideas that are not being used. If they cannot operate in all of their nation or all of the world, then those skills or ideas have much less value. So we are all investors.
There are several ways to learn Globish. Some learners know about 350 to 500 common words in English and can read and say them. Learning Globish can take these people about 6 months if they study for hour every day, including practice writing and speaking. In six months, with more than 120 days of learning, they can learn just 10 words a day. That should not be too hard.
There may not be a class in Globish near you. However, if you know the limitations given in this book, you can direct a local English techer to give you only those Globish words and only those Globish sentence structures. You are the customer, and you can find English teachers who will do what you ask them to. They do not have to be native-English speakers for you to learn.
Another good thing about this method is that you can start Globish where your last English stopped. If you start Globish knowing 1000 of the most-used English words, then it may take you only 3 months to master Globish. That is one of the best things about learning Globish. You know how much to do because you know where it will end.
There are Globish learning materials available. This book – in Globish – has the 1500 words and some other things you need to know. There are a number of materials on Globish already written in local languages or in Globish. There are also computer-based courses, and even a Globish course on a cell phone, the most widely available tool in the world. A lot of written and audio Globish can now be in your pocket or bag.
We should say a few words about pronunciation here. A good teacher can explain how to make clear English sounds. Most teachers will also have audio for you to practice with those sounds. There is a lot of recorded material for learners to practice with. A lot of it is free on the radio, or the World Wide Web. And all of this audio is usually available with the most perfect English accent you can dream of. It can be the Queen’s accent. It can be President Obama’s accent. It can be whatever you want. Learners should hear different kinds of accents.
You have read here already that a perfect pronunciation is not needed, but only an understandable one, and that is plenty. You must believe this. After all, what is a perfect accent? London? Glasgow? Melbourne? Dallas? Toronto? Hollywood? Hong Kong? They all think they are perfect! Still it is widely accepted that only native English speakers can really teach English, and that the teachers with another background should feel like second-class citizens. But this world is changing … Quickly.
Before this century, any native English speaker in any non-English-speaking city could sound like he or she knew much more about English, just by pronouncing English quickly and correctly. Non-native English teachers were sometimes worried that they were not well-qualified. They worried that they were not well-qualified. They worried that people would discover their English was not perfect. There is good news now. Those days are gone. The old ideas might have been correct about English teaching in the year 1900, but not now. This is a new century. And globish is the new language in town.
If you are such a teacher of English, things will change for you … all to the better.
If you are such a teacher: welcome to a world that really wants what you can do.
A Toll and … A Mindset
Globish can achieve what it does because it is useful English without a huge number of words and cultural idioms. If Globish speakers can use just this middle level of English, they will be respected everywhere in the world. But the most important difference between English and Globish is how we think when we use Globish.
Who is responsible for effective communication? Is it the speaker and writer, or the listener and reader? The listener and reader cannot make communication good if the speaker or writer does not help, who is guilty if the message does not get across? Who should do everything possible to make sure he or she is understood?
In English, the usual native speaker would answer; “Not me. I was born with English as a mother tongue, and I started listening to it – and learning it – in my mother’s arms. If you do not understand me, it is your problem. My English is perfect. When yours gets better, you will not have the same difficulty. If you lack the drive to learn it, this is your problem, and not mine. English is the most important language. I am not responsible for that, but there is nothing I can do to make it different.”
Globish is the complete opposite: the person who wants to talk must come at least half the distance to the person he talks to. He or she must decide what is necessary to make the communication happen. The native English speaker or the excellent speaker of English as a second language must say: “Today I must speak at the Globish level so this other person can understand me. If my listeners do not understand me, it is because I am not using the Globish tool very well. This is my responsibility, not theirs.” Of course, not everyone accepts the idea of Globish yet. Perhaps they never heard about it. Perhaps they could never find the time to learn about it. Or perhaps they did not think they needed it.
Even if there are just two people, if this communication is important, Globish will help. This means you – the speaker – will take responsibility, using simple Globish words in a simple way, and using Globish “best practics” including body language and charts or pictures we can see. Most of all, when using Globish, the speaker should to wait for the listeners, to check they understand.
If there is a group of people, maybe only one does not speak Globish. The speaker can think: “This person is the only one in the group who can not understand or communicate in Globish. That is too bad. I will ask one of the others to help that one by explaining what was said in this discussion.”
So sometimes we decide it is better to communicate with those who understand, and let them tell any others. This means it is good to stop now and then, so the other persons can learn what was said. The English speakers will understand anyway, and the below-Globish level will not at all, but you must work with the identified Globish group until you succeed. If you do not communicate with those, the failure will be yours.
On the other hand, there will be times when you are with native English speakers who do not know about the Globish guidelines, never heard of them, or just don’t want to hear about it. But it is up to you to bring the discussion to the correct level. This is in your best interest, but it is also your duty, because many of the members of this group may already be lost in this discussion.
You must now be their Globish leader. They will be more than thankful to you for bringing the matter into the open without fear. It is easy. Many English speakers forget about others or just do not think about them. You just have to raise a hand, wave it until you are noticed, and say: “Excuse me, I am sorry but some of us do not understand what you are saying. We need to understand you. Could you please repeat, in Globish please, this time?”
To be sure, you will have a reaction, and your native, speaker friend might understand the point for the rest of his or her life. You will have done a great service. But the first reaction is most likely going to be surprise: “Globish, what’s that?” It will give you a fine opportunity to explain the story you now understand, and give its reasons. At best you will have an interested native speaker, who wants to know more, will understand your explanation, and will become a much better global communicator, and a Globish friend. That person will see that Globish is often better than English because it is much more sympathetic.
As we said, pronunciations are “acceptable”as soon as they are understood. A foreign accent is never a mistake; it is part of a person’s special quality. It makes you different, and can even make you sound sexy. People who have reasonable Globish pronunciation can now stop trying to make it “better” – or to get closer to some native English speaker’s – if they are understood.
We said Globish is still correct English. This means you are expected to write and speak in correct English. The grammar should be reasonable – about subjects and actions, time and place. Globish does not worry about very small differences in American and British speech or spelling or grammar. (And neither should anyone else)
Globish is much more forgiving because it is asking for understanding, not perfect English. But there is an extra benefit in Globish to all native and non-native speakers: simplicity. It is what older politicians tell younger politicians about their first speeches. It is what older advertising people tell the bright younger ones about making a successful advertisement. It is what news editors tell their young writers about making a good news story. And it is what every English speaking professor should tell every non-native English student about writing and speaking.
On one side of the ocean, Winston Churchill said: “Never use a pound word when a penny one will do”…
And a similar saying known to Americans:
K.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Globish in Many Places
Globish has no desire to be a cultural language like French, or Chinese … Or English. People who will use Globish already have their own respected culture and their own language. They will use Globish only as a tool, but it will be the chosen tool of a huge majority of people around the world. When they see ahead to this future many non-native English speakers will decide this is still English. And it is really a form of English, a clear form of that language. They may fear that English is winning over everything they love. They may see this as a threat to their own mother tongue and their culture. So they might decide that they have to fight for the survival of their French, Japanese, Russian or Tagalog – their home and beloved language. Each of them is a respected cultural language for many people.
This threat could be true IF we were advising you to learn English. That would be helping English compete with other cultural languages. A few cultures have already taken extreme steps because they fear that the English culture will replace their own. They feel it brings poor values and takes away the strength of their own culture.
However, advising you to learn Globish does the opposite. Globish cannot have any cultural goals, so it does not threaten anyone’s language or anyone’s culture. It replaces the English competition. Using only Globish could keep all these wonderful cultures safer from the English cultural invasion.
Globish can also protect the English language from being “broken” by other culture. English is a very special case today. In fact, the non-native English speakers who use English are far more numerous than native English speakers. So the non-native speakers will decide and lead in the future of the English language. They will create and present new words, and will throw away the old words. This will happen unless the Globish idea becomes an accepted tool. If this happens, it will give the English language a chance to survive as a cultural language.
Globish offers the English-speaking countries a chance to say: We have a wonderful language, linked to a wonderful culture, and we would like to save all of that. However, we accept that international communication today is mostly using our language. But we can divide the language in two parts. One from will be for English culture that is ours, and one form will be for global communication, trade, and traveling ( and this is Globish, with exact rules ). We will attempt to use this second form – Grobish – whenever we are in those other worlds which are not part of the English culture(s). And we are the lucky ones… Learning Globish for us will be much easier than learning a new language for each place.
If you are delivering a speech in front of a large international audience, you have to deal with many different levels of English. You might think they are like one person, but each individual has different abilities. On top of that, someone will be recording you, and your performance will be available in many ways, including on the TV and on the Internet and on DVDs. You need to be understood quickly by the largest possible number. You might think that excellent speakers of two languages are the answer. Interpreters give second-by-second changes to the audience in their languages. But even that method is much better with Globish than with English. The Globish limitations and especially its simpler sentences, shorter and lighter, all ensure better correctness when the speech is changed to another language.
Ask any interpreter. Their worst experience is the long, involved sentences where they get lost. This person needs to listen to all of the words to get the meaning, and if the talk is too long, he or she has lost the beginning when the end finally comes. But those kinds of statements-within-statements are mistakes in Globish.
The other horrible experience of the interpreters is seeing words used differently in field or subject that they don’t know. In English there is the word “program”, and it means very different things on the TV and on the computer. The interpreter who does not know the field completely will make too many mistakes. On the other hand, if you are talking in Globish, many people in the audience will choose to listen directly to you. The simplest solution is to say things in Globish. You can then use special “technical words” – along with pictures to support them – in a way that people in the industry will quickly understand.
It is very difficult to use Globish guidelines while you are creating your words right there in front of people. But once you are familiar with the idea, practice makes it easier within a short time. The safest way, however, is to give a speech from a written text, and go over that text with Globish software. It will improve the “hit rate” of the speech (a technical term for the percent of people who listen and do understand). Usually it is at least three times better, and ten times with some listeners who are not native English speakers.
A good example is the excellent video tape to the Iranian people by President Obama in 2009. It was in Globish-like language and it could be understood by much of the world without translation. They also listened to Obama’s same words in Jerusalem and Ramallah, in Istanbul and in Seoul. In too many other cases, however, major international speeches are made at a level of English that is too difficult for non-native speakers. Of course those international speakers think they did their job. They are wrong. Their job was to be understood by all their listeners.
If you are a native English speaker, you could argue that things are very different when you write. You know who you are writing to, and you know that his or her English is very good. Perhaps you write to that person with difficult words to show your ability with the language. But this could be another huge mistake. Very often good ideas are passed on as is to others. You should know that whatever you write today is not written just for the person you send it to. It is always written for the whole wide world. And for this reason, it should be in Globish. If it is forwarded through the Internet it can go around the world 4000 times before you finish your next call. The problem is, if they don’t understand it, they will still try to pick up a few words and tell that to their friends. And then what you didn’t say well they will say even more poorly in 5000 other languages. The good news is that now you can talk to the whole world at the speed of light. But the really bad news is that no one will ever tell you they don’t understand. They would be ashamed to show their limitations, so they will all say back to you: “Oh yes, it was very interesting.”
You could be working for a global company, with shares owned by people from 123 different countries. They speak almost as many languages. Look closely at your yearly report, and at all the papers sent to shareholders. It is probably written in wonderful English which non-native English speakers from the 117 non-English speaking countries can almost understand. Or is it written in Globish, using exactly the same numbers and saying exactly the same things, but understandable by many more of those shareholders?
If you work in a government agency in an English speaking country, look at the papers and forms for the citizens. Many people – who are new to the country and to your language – will have to fill in those forms. They should reach the Globish level soon, and that may be fairly easy. But then, they should get papers writtern only in Globish, which are understandable both by these new ones and by all the English-speaking citizens. It would cost much less than printing every paper and form in many different languages. And new people could perform better and more quickly in the economy if they could read the language. Globish can fill this need, but that nation must make this standard, and demonstrate it in all its important papers.
There will always be a few of the new people who cannot yet operate in Globish, even to read simple writing. They may still need to see something in their languages. From normal English the usual solution would be many translators, one for each language. Their work might be excellent, but it would take a lot of time and a lot of money.
You could also decide to have computer translations to these languages from English. But you must make sure that it works; here is how to do that. Have the computer translate part of your English version into – say – Poldevian. When you have a result, do not show it immediately to the Poldevians. Instead, order the computer to change the Poldevian document back to English. If you think you can understand it – and accept it – then the process is good . In most cases you will be surprised in a bad way. You will decide that computers cannot change languages very well yet. However, Globish has a much better chance of giving good results in computer translation. It has simpler sentence structures, and uses the most common English words. Many times, the computer translation from Globish to Poldevian will give better results, but not perfect results. This is true of most of Globish, where the goal is to create understanding without 100% perfection.
We must remember, however, that Globish is not a holy language. It is an idea, a guidance. The better you keep to it, the more people will understand you. Perhaps it is like a diet. The closer you stay to it, the just a few times – you have a glass of wine, or a beer. Off-limits words in Globish are not wrong; it is just not wise to bring in difficult words too often. You can use a rare word because no other one will do, and many readers will run to their word books. Or you can use two Globish words that are widely understood by your readers or listeners … and mean the same thing. It is up to you. But the more you stay with the guidance, the better chance you have of everyone understanding you.
It is clear also that people who decide to use Globish will possibly master many more words than the list given here. This is clearly true for advanced English students, of course, but also for the other speakers. In many cases the non-native speakers will hear speech or see written material that uses more difficult words. In most cases, non-native speakers will learn these new words, and have them available in case they need to use them again later. This is a good result. We are not suggesting that people close their eyes and their ears to all new words. And there will often be native English speakers who reject the Globish idea completely. With this kind of people, more words will always help the non-native speakers to understand.
But these borders of this Globish “middle ground” are not made to keep people in or out. If all speakers know they can come back and be welcomed into Globish, then communication has a chance.
Interpreter – a person who tells the meaning in one language to those who speak another language
Translation – Changing of one language to another. Something human translators are called interpreters as well.