Modern English is Passe – Global English Replaced it Without Our Permission

Change is part of nature, it is part of life and it is part of language. So it is with English. Email, text, blog and Twitter are modern day forms of English, totally foreign to adults half a generation away. The English language is no stranger to change. Every 500 years, English transforms as radically as the caterpillar becomes a butterfly. The time is up for Modern English and change is upon us. Native English speakers struggling daily with confusing and rapidly evolving lingo we can not stop or control. Our generation is in the middle of a seismic language shift toward Global English.

A brief glimpse at the evolution of English so far paints a clear picture of the language, how it got to be this way and where it is going. 1,500 years ago English began to emerge from Germanic origins when the Angles, Saxons and Jutes crossed the North Sea and conquered Briton. In 800 AD, Norse was added and the first form of English – Old English – came to be. Few scholars today can decipher this sample of the first incarnation of the English language.

Faeder ure pu pe eart on heofonum si pin nama

gehalgod tobecume pin rice gewurpe pin willa

In 1066 William the Conqueror defeated the Anglo-Saxons and it was lights out for phase one of the English language. French was added to Old English and the result was a new form of the language and the beginning of the next 500-year era called Middle English. The same passage as above is a little more recognizable by 1384 AD in the Middle English period.

Ovre fadir pat art in hevenes halwid be pi name

pi revme or kyngdom come to be

Until the mid-15th century, few people other than the clergy or aristocracy were literate. After a thousand years of evolution as an oral language, one man changed everything. William Caxton introduced the printing press, made English widely available to commoners in a written form, and single-handedly ushered in Modern English. Although Caxton struggled valiantly to reconcile the 40+ sounds regularly used in English with the 26 symbols in the Latin alphabet, he was not particularly successful. The resulting disastrous English spelling is something the world still grapples with today. Printed in 1611, the previous passage is easily recognizable.

Ovr father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name

Thy kingdom come

Except for distinguishing “u” and “v” as separate letters, Modern English has changed little since 1478 when William Caxton carved it in stone. English has enjoyed some exciting times during its 500-year reign. The British naval dynasty gave Briton access to the world where “The sun never set on British soil.” Everywhere the sailors went, they brought back words such as:

· zero, chocolate, sugar and alcohol from Arabia
· shampoo and pajamas from India
· ketchup and tycoon from China
· gum and paper from Egypt…and on and on.

English’s penchant for adopting words from other languages that started in 800 AD with the German and Norse had expanded to include every major language on Earth. The elastic quality of English allowed for individuals to make significant contributions to the language as well. William Shakespeare coined the phrase, “coined the phrase,” as well as 2,000 other words and phrases. Sir Isaac Newton published Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica or ‘Principia’ in 1687 and gave us “gravity,” “mass,” “velocity”… in one fell swoop (oops, Shakespeare again) establishing English as the language of science for centuries to come. Britain dominated as a world power for hundreds of years, and then in 1945 at the close of WWII passed the torch to the United States of America. These back-to-back English-speaking super powers were the makings of (Shakespeare) English as the international language of commerce.

Today there are more than a million words in the English language. It is the largest language in the world by far, and it grows larger every day. “Double, double,” “Gonna” and “24/7” are relatively new additions to the dictionary. The average high school graduate has a reading vocabulary of about 300,000 words (much fewer for speaking) and a Ph.D. about 600,000. These are daunting numbers for anyone who wishes to learn or teach English as a Second Language (ESL). But it is almost midnight for the era that began with William Caxton in 1478. After exactly 500 years, Modern English sovereignty is all but over. In 1981 Bill Gates launched Microsoft and the language will never be the same. Here is the Lord’s Prayer in text.

dad @ hvn, ur spshl

we want wot u want & urth2b like hvn

In terms of transition, we are the sandwich generation, and our children use a completely different language than our parents did. With history as our guide, we know new incarnations of English take almost 100 years to complete. Some believe the most recent mutation began with Microsoft and we are thirty years into it. I disagree. In 1930, David Ogden published Simplified English, which included a basic word list of 850 words and 10 grammar rules, and sent it to Asia. Voice of America (VOA) has been broadcasting to the Third World using a basic list of 1,500 allowable words since 1959. That list with few additions is still being taught to 1.5 billion people around the world and the transfer to Global English is almost complete.

As the language of science, commerce and technology worldwide, non-native speakers of English outnumber native speakers by a margin of 4:1, which means most conversations in English today occur between two non-native speakers. They do not use a million words to communicate: they have made the language their own. Thanks to David Ogden, non-native speakers successfully use fewer than 2,000 words and a simplified set of grammar rules where there is no “s” on the third person singular, pronouns and word order is fairly liquid, and subject and verb do not have to agree. Global English includes concoctions like:

Where is my keys?

Him and me go to the store.

cu l 8r

And in the song unblinkingly embraced during the 2010 Olympics,

I believe in the power of you and I.


The biggest shift from Modern English to Global English is in intention. It is no longer as critical to be perfect as it is to be understood. Communication is successful if it is understood and no ones feelings are hurt.

As newcomers infuse the country, language, culture, workplace and family unit, the impact on the English language is unavoidable. The next time you hear a frustrated native speaker mutter, “Why don’t they just speak English?”, you might consider that the newcomer is speaking English and we are not.

English is Stupid is the definitive resource guide for spoken English in both the academic and corporate speaking world. Whether you are learning it, teaching it, or English is your first language, English is Stupid provides a fascinating expose on the mechanics of how Spoken English works. Six rules of spoken English are simple and absolute. English is Stupid is fascinating to those who are native speakers of English and critical to those who aren’t.

We welcome any comments or feedback you may have.

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Let Us Speak English in a Better Way – Part-2 (For Readers From Indian Subcontinent)

When we prepare ourselves for speaking English, we usually think that subject in our mother tongue, subsequently translate it to English within our mind, and then speak out in English. While implementing this three-tier process, we commit many mistakes as follows that result into imperfect speech:

• Confusing in selecting right words from vocabulary
• Missing out the sequence of words
• Fear of forgetting the sentence
• Delay in speech
• Mincing words
• Sometimes speaking a dialogue the meaning of which might be other than that we wanted to convey

Therefore, for speaking flawless sentences fluently and effectively we should think and speak in English only. We need to practice a lot for that until our mind develops a natural instinct.

English speaking is not that difficult as compared to speaking other languages including Indian languages. We need to develop expertise in providing proper sequence of words, suitably breaking the sentences in 2-3 parts and giving prominence / stress / higher pitch to a word or two; and eventually making the sentence easier to speak and adequate for understanding by the person we address.

Written language and the language we speak have basic differences about which many of us are not aware. We should not try to speak the bookish language that we read in books, newspapers, magazines and novels. The speaking English has to be quite different from written English. We need to follow the following

The various requirements for ideal speech are as follows:

• Your speech should be distinct for attracting attention of listener
• Your speech should be clear and easy for the listener to understand
• Your speech should convey the real message that you want to speak
• Your speech should be should carry your feelings and emotions that you want to convey
• Your speech should have simple and common words
• Sentences in your speech should be short for you to speak easily
• Your speech should be short for the listener to understand easily
• Your speech should have no ambiguity
• You should have correct pronunciation and accent
• You should break sentence in 2 – 3 pieces and stress / emphasize the vital words and create right expression
• You should use facial gestures and express with nodding your head wherever required
• Do not be loud in gesturing
• Keep the tone and volume of your voice controlled

Here are examples of sentences:

*Your speech:
(-) stands for breaks and
(underline) stands for emphasis / stress / higher pitch.

1. Usual sentence: He is dutiful and does not evade hard work.
*Your speech: He is dutiful – and does not evade – hard work.

2. Usual sentence: A typical Indian woman is emotional by nature.
*Your speech: A typical Indian woman – is emotional by nature

3. Usual sentence: A sensible person should not be blind to his shortcomings.
*Your speech: A sensible person – should ‘not’ be blind – to his ‘shortcomings’.

4. Usual sentence: You should not depend on an unfaithful friend.
*Your speech: You should not depend – on an unfaithful friend.

5. Usual sentence: These are imaginary fears that do not exist in reality.
*Your speech: These are imaginary fears – that do not exist – in reality.

Look at the sentences under subheads ‘Usual sentence’ and ‘*your speech’. Under ‘Usual sentence’, a sentence is written in a normal format. Whereas under ‘*your speech’ the sentences has been broken in pieces and marked for emphasis / stress / higher pitch that guides the speaker about the style of speech.

These styles of speech may differ from place to place and from person to person, depending on the local dialect spoken in that area and the persona and nature of the speaker. Styles may also differ with the occasion and environment, depending on when and where the conversation takes place.

Changing words and sentences suitable for speech:

For better spoken-English, we should use appropriate words and construct proper sentences, a bit different from the written English, for effective expression of the messages that we need to convey.

We should always remember that there is a slight difference in written and spoken English. In written English, we speak full words and sentences whereas for speaking English we speak short forms of some words and make sentences a bit more expressive as compared to that we write.

Here are some examples of written and spoken English sentences:

• Written: What is your name?
Spoken: What’s your – ‘name’?
• Written: My name is Harish.
Spoken: I am – ‘Harish’.
• Written: Yes!
Spoken: That’s ‘right’!

Whenever someone asks us, a question and we need to reply in affirmative then we say, “That’s right!” Rather than saying “Yes.”

We should better say, “What’s” in place of “What is”.

I had an Anglo-Indian friend Joe. One day I asked his son-

“What is your name?”
The child did not understand my question. Joe asked him the same question in a different way
“What’s your name, dear?” and the child looked quite comfortable with his question.

This practice of abbreviating words and reconstructing the sentences in a different way from the written language is followed in other languages also.

Expressions and body language:

Gestures and actions are inseparable part of effective oratory and it is equally followed in English speaking also. Our speech world sound dull, ineffective and would not convey the real meaning of our message if we do not use gestures. Nevertheless, we should be careful for not being loud in our gestures and body language lest we might look funny.

Our speech would sound inert if we do not synchronies our dialogues with proper expressions on our face and body gestures. We should remember that there is a big difference between interacting with somebody and reading a news bulletin on TV.

In a civilized society, we need to express our sympathy facially and verbally while conveying a sad message or offering condolences. We will have to follow this protocol in a proper way, while answering or conveying a message carrying a particular feeling or emotion like exclamation, pleasure, distress, excitement etc.

Tone and volume of speech:

You might have observed that there are different tone and loudness of speech at different places and this style differ from place to place, depending on the dialects spoken in that area, the temperament and social / cultural environment in that area. It even differs between urban and rural parts of the same area.

So is the case in English also, these styles of speaking differ in all the languages in the world. The speech of sophisticated gentry is soft and civilized where as the rural world speak loud and raw language without following protocols. Following the same principles our tone has to be soft, mild moderated while speaking face to face with someone. Nevertheless, the volume may vary with the environment, emotional situation and distance from the listener. Yet, the tone should continue to be soft, at all the time and in all the conditions.

Non-English-speaking people usually try to imitate the dialogues and vocabulary from English films produced in Hollywood and Hong Kong. By following this learning process, we usually pickup styles adapting the vocabulary and learn to speak shrieks, shouts, slang and abuses from the interactions portrayed between bad characters in the films.

We should remember that English is spoken among educated masses in non-English-speaking world. Therefore, our English speech has to be decent and civilized. If we want to learn English from films, then we should pickup dialogue delivery from the decent and intellectual characters in the English films for emulating their style of English speaking.

How To Practice Speaking English:

The more we speak using our tongue throat the better would be our English speaking expertise. English is one of the most tongue twisting languages. Many words in English are not that easy to pronounce for the first time, because it needs a proper twist of our tongue to speak them in an appropriate way.

The best ways for practicing English speaking are listed as follows and discussed subsequently:

• Interact with your siblings or friends

• Read newspapers or books aloud

• Listen to English news on TV

• Do not hesitate to clear doubts with anyone

Interact with your siblings or friends:

More and more speaking is the only way to be fluent in the language that you want to learn. We will have to speak as much as possible; it does not matter whether we speak right or wrong. Our aim has to be just keeping speaking as much as possible and there is no other way-out.

You should pickup someone who continues to be with you most of the time and have a pact with him / her to speak only in English between you people. Brothers, sisters, cousins, roommates and classmates are usually the right people with whom you can go for this understanding.

Your practice partner for practicing English need not be an expert in English. Anyone, having working knowledge of Basic English speech would be fine for you to take off on this adventure.

Read newspapers or books aloud:

All the languages carry certain tongue-twisting words or combination of words that create big obstacles in the pursuit of speaking chaste English with perfect pronunciation, accent and fluency. We usually fumble and sometimes even stammer, as our tongue does not synchronize with our mind for perfect phonetic reproduction. The tongue does not just twist to speak such words.

Therefore, we will have to get our tongue used to such typical words, by pronouncing them repeatedly, so much so that, we develop a natural instinct for speaking English as very effortlessly as we speak our mother tongue.

‘Vulnerable’ was one such word that gave me a real hard time, whenever I tried to speak as a single word or tried to use it in a sentence. I of course sometimes could speak it as a single word; yet, I fumbled while speaking it in a sentence. Then, I kept speaking this word repeatedly and tried to used it deliberately by finding opportunities to speak ‘vulnerable’ as many times as possible.

That is the best way to practice for overcoming difficulties like fumbling with these tongue-twisting words or the combinations of such words by ‘reading them loudly’. In our day-to-day academic preparations, we need to read books and we read newspapers and magazines. We need to bring a little change in reading and that is by reading that loudly and use our tongue and throat many times.

This rigorous practice will put your tongue and throat on an exercise, eventually synchronizing it with the commands released from your brain in the process of speaking English. by doing it repeatedly, our tongue develops a natural instinct to produce a desired sound and eventually pronounce it without any fumble or stammer.

Listen to English news on TV:

Even small children as young as eight months learn speaking by hearing our speech and imitate our sounds that they hear when we speak. Hence, we need to hear someone speaking perfect English if we want to learn speaking this language. When we hear them then we can try to copy them..

Speaking any language, other than our mother tongue, is not as simple as physical exercise. That cannot be performed by solitary practice, because speaking includes specific phonetic reproduction and certain specific style, grammar and accent. There is no other option for us, except listening to that sound carefully and emulating the same by synchronizing, twisting the tongue with orientation of our throats while blowing air with controlled throttle.

The easy and freely available resource of perfect English speech lessons is the news bulletins read on radios and TVs. make it a regular practice of listening these news bulletins carefully. Better, listen to Indian English news, rather than opting for CNN or BBC or any other foreign media. I think that Indian English as the best for English for Indians to learn because, people in other countries speak English with different pronunciations and accents. If we try to learn from English spoken by British, American, Australian or Canadian people than we would be rendered confused due to ambiguity and might not even learn the English spoken in India.

Let us speak English in a better way: Part- 2
(For readers from Indian subcontinent)

Please read this article on my site:

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Learn English! It is Your Language

Few decades back English was spoken only in England and its former English colonies like India, China, Sri Lanka, Egypt, etc. But now days, people in Japan, Korea, Africa, America are all speaking English as their second language. There are people who speak English even at their home in place of their mother tongue.

These days everyone loves to speak English as it has become a global language. People especially traders, businessmen etc learn English as it has become the language of global corporate world. Now days, if you can’t speak English, people might consider you illiterate or a less educated person.

People try to learn English, but they don’t succeed. Reason being, they are afraid of speaking correctly or they abandon their plan in the middle or they don’t know the proper and systematic way to learn English. If they can follow a systematic plan or follow few but effective tips, then they can surely learn English.

Here are the few tips that can help English learner a lot.
1. Be patient- I am myself learning English and one of the biggest mistakes that I have committed was related to my impatience. I wanted to learn English without spending time on it. But later, I realized that unlike other things it takes time.
2. Read, write and speak- Use English words in your daily life. Like furniture, switch, table etc. Make notes in English if you have any. Speak English if you can. If you can’t speak English fluently start from simple sentences like “How are you?” I am fine, How do you do? Etc.
3. Forget your mother tongue- You should not use your mother tongue for the sentences or words which you can use in English
4. Watch Movies, T.V. Channels- there are no of ways to learn English like watching English movies and T.V. channels like CNN, BBC, etc.
5. Internet- Internet is a sea of information. You can find a number of websites on English. You can learn and improve your writing skills from Internet.
6. Don’t get confused- There are lots of synonyms of words in English. People use different words to express same things. You don’t have to learn every word, although you should know their meaning.
7. Clear your doubts- There is a psychological feeling in people of former English colonies that English is a language of superiors and not every one can learn English. It is a myth and the fact is that English is a language just like your mother tongue. So learn naturally.
8. Join English speaking community- You can’t speak English with everyone, so join communities that use English as their second language.
It will take, to be very honest, few years to learn good English. Learn English naturally like your mother tongue. Have no fear, start speaking English.

I am Fahad Ali Khan and have been learning English for few years. I have improved my English a lot and now working as a content writer in a small but progressive organization in Gurgaon, India.

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