The implications of English proficiency among non-native speakers

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Re: The implications of English proficiency among non-native speakers

Postby tungemål » Mon Aug 12, 2019 3:52 pm

My impression is that native english speakers become very good at talking with non-natives. But maybe that is only those who like travelling to other countries, since those are the ones I meet. English natives have to speak with non-natives all the time and I guess they adapt their language to facilitate understanding. They have to cope with an array of foreign accents. I am not that used to hearing foreign accents of Norwegian, so when I do I can have problems understanding someone who otherwise use very correct language.


tussentaal wrote:It is not allowed to smoke here.
Please speak slowlier.
How does he look like?
I recommended her to try the cake.
Look at the sky! It will rain!
I feel quite better now.


Ok, this one is hard. Let me try:
- non-smoking area
- Please speak slowly / more slowly
- What does he look like
- (not sure)
- (not sure)
- I feel much better now / I feel quite good now
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Re: The implications of English proficiency among non-native speakers

Postby SCMT » Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:07 pm

Adrianslont wrote:
MrPenguin wrote:Most native speakers of English rarely interact with non-native speakers in real life, rarely consume media produced by non-native speakers etc. Unless this changes, I don't see these non-native variants from around the world having that much of an impact on the language in anglophone countries in the immediate future. And native speakers will, for the foreseeable future, remain the model for most learners.

I guess it depends where you live but I am a native speaker of English and I interact with non-native speakers everyday, unless I stay indoors and talk to no one.



This is my experience as well. I live in a relatively small city in the middle of the US, and I interact with native Spanish speakers who are speaking English on a daily basis (in my community, not just in my job.) I interact with native speakers of, I assume, Hindi, on an almost daily basis, and I have acquaintances who are natives of Italy, Germany, and Japan, as well. When I lived in a larger city, there were native speakers of an array of Middle Eastern and Asian languages in addition to all of the above.

Although I'm no linguist, it seems to me that this is how languages grow and change over time. English is already a mish-mash of Germanic and Romantic with a little bit of everything else plus some made-up things, anyway.
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Re: The implications of English proficiency among non-native speakers

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:44 pm

tungemål wrote:
tussentaal wrote:It is not allowed to smoke here.
Please speak slowlier.
How does he look like?
I recommended her to try the cake.
Look at the sky! It will rain!
I feel quite better now.


Ok, this one is hard. Let me try:
- non-smoking area
- Please speak slowly / more slowly
- What does he look like
- (not sure)
- (not sure)
- I feel much better now / I feel quite good now


You are not allowed to smoke here. (or: Smoking is not allowed here.)
Please speak slowly / (more slowly) / slower.
What does he look like?
I recommend that she try the cake. (←subjunctive)
Look at the sky! It's going to rain! (Or possibly: There will be rain)
I feel quite good now. / I feel better now.
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Re: The implications of English proficiency among non-native speakers

Postby Deinonysus » Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:54 pm

I will echo what others have said and confirm that the only day that goes by without me interacting with non-native English speakers is a day where I stay at home. I work with plenty of non-native speakers, and you run into them in plenty of other places too. This is true in the US, at least in my corner of it, and I can't think of anywhere in the Anglosphere where people wouldn't regularly interact with non-native speakers. Maybe in very isolated villages.

Indian English is one of my favorite dialects of English. The best-selling English-language newspaper in the world isn't the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal but the Times of India. There are often more tech tutorial videos available online in Indian English than in any of the native dialects. Well, maybe it's unfair to contrast "native" English with Indian English, since although nearly all speakers of Indian English speak it as a second language, there are apparently around 260,000 native speakers, and although this pales in comparison to the tens of millions who simply use Indian English as a lingua franca, it is still twice as big as one estimate of the entire population of native Scots speakers. Any differences between Indian English and "native" dialects (for instance, emphasizing the first syllable in "develop" rather than the second, or continuing to use the phrase "do the needful" which has become obsolete in the UK), cannot be considered to be mistakes, but rather features that are correct in Indian English.
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Re: The implications of English proficiency among non-native speakers

Postby tussentaal » Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:15 pm

Indian speakers of English are non-native, but they have a substantial vocabulary and are fond of using idioms, phrasal verbs etc., that is, they know English to the core. We should resent dumbing down of English propagated by technocrats in Brussels or Strassbourg and by the European tourism industry. The days of Newspeak are long gone.
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Re: The implications of English proficiency among non-native speakers

Postby Speakeasy » Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:30 pm

tussentaal wrote:Indian speakers of English are non-native, but they have a substantial vocabulary and are fond of using idioms, phrasal verbs etc., that is, they know English to the core ...
Without wishing to start a bun-fight, I believe that the Editor in Chief of the Oxford English Dictionary once offered his opinion that Indian non-native speakers of English speak the "purist English" of all and that the rest of us (native speakers) could learn at lot from them. I do not think that he was speaking in jest.
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Re: The implications of English proficiency among non-native speakers

Postby SCMT » Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:47 pm

tussentaal wrote:Common errors in Euro English:

It is not allowed to smoke here.
Please speak slowlier.
How does he look like?
I recommended her to try the cake.
Look at the sky! It will rain!
I feel quite better now


Smoking is not allowed here. And it shouldn't be. It's a nasty habit.

Please speak more slowly. Although I like the word "slowlier" and may try to introduce it into the lexicon.

What does he look like? My grammar teacher would not be proud of this sentence, but it is common usage.

I recommended that she try the cake. And the "that" is optional.

Look at the sky! It will rain! This may not be common usage, but it is not wrong. "It's going to rain," is more natural speech.

I feel quite better now. This just sound British to me. I think if you say it with a British accent, it becomes correct ;)
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Re: The implications of English proficiency among non-native speakers

Postby nooj » Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:39 pm

Deinonysus wrote:This is true in the US, at least in my corner of it, and I can't think of anywhere in the Anglosphere where people wouldn't regularly interact with non-native speakers.


There are many regional towns in Australia where you will not regularly interact with non-native speakers of English. Moving from a fairly big regional town like Orange (40,000 people) to somewhere like Sydney is cause for cultural shock.
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Re: The implications of English proficiency among non-native speakers

Postby dampingwire » Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:56 pm

SCMT wrote:I feel quite better now. This just sound British to me. I think if you say it with a British accent, it becomes correct ;)


I can hear Basil Rathbone saying this right now in my head :-)
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Re: The implications of English proficiency among non-native speakers

Postby Cainntear » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:48 pm

SCMT wrote:Look at the sky! It will rain! This may not be common usage, but it is not wrong. "It's going to rain," is more natural speech.

It is wrong. We have a problem in English that we insist on calling [i]will
"the future tense", when it's something far more specific than that. "Will" denotes a decision, a promise, a consequence or a prediction. The doorbell rings -- "I'll get it" => decision. "I'll always be here for you" => promise. "If you build it, he will come" => consequence.

Every one of these involves some sense of volition, which is perfectly logical if you think about it -- I mean, the word is will after all.

The prediction doesn't always imply volition though, and while "It will rain tomorrow" is possible (albeit slightly "stiff" sounding), it really, really needs something to say when.

But despite the fact that "will" is not, and has never been, the "future tense" in English, it has been taught that way for a long time. I have witnessed teachers deliberately teaching it as "the future tense", training people to use it in situations where it's not appropriate.

Heck, even Cambridge examiners use it wrong, describing the procedures of a test with "will".


Which leaves me kind of pulled both ways about international English.

If the emerging "learner English"/"English as lingua franca" is a result of natural processes, that's fine. But some parts of it are just a result of poor teaching, and "natural process" becomes a nonsense if it's used to paper over bad teaching.
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