Why Must we all speak Englisch?

Aug 14th, 2000, 04:37 AM
  #1  
JoergS
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Why Must we all speak Englisch?

I am worried about ever more Englisch being spoken, my language is German and is in the fact that most spoken in Europe. Also, my country is the economic locomotive and 3rd world superpower.
 
Aug 14th, 2000, 05:57 AM
  #2  
Sjoerd
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In this globalizing economy, it is very easy to have one language that "everybody" speaks. English has gradually developed as the major language for international business, and I expect the spread of English to continue. German may be the language that is "most spoken in Europe" (by the way, I believe more people speak Russian as a first language in Europe), but English is definitely the language that most people can speak and understand as either a first, a second or a third language.
 
Aug 14th, 2000, 07:52 AM
  #3  
Steve Mueller
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Joerg,

Everyone doesn't have to learn English. I would guess that you learned it because your government or school board made a required part of the educational curricula. English is taught in primary education throughout western Europe because your leaders and educators believe that it is a necessary component of success. This isn't just true in Europe, but also Japan, and in elite schools throughout Asia and the Middle East.

Frankly, I envy your ability to speak more than one language. I wish that I would have been "forced" to learn German or French when I was in elementary school. I would love to be able to speak either language fluently. Many Americans, like myself, studied foreign language as part of their high school or university education, but it seems that fluency is more difficult to acheive if you are only exposed to a language during your late teens or early adult years.

If the US were composed of states in which different languages were spoken, the majority of Americans would be multilingual. The physical vastness of the US (which many Europeans have difficulty comprehending) tends to minimize the contact that the average American has with non-English speaking neighbors. Where this is not the case, bilingualism is not uncommon. A surprising number of non-hispanic Texans,for example, speak Spanish.

Various languages have dominated western culture at different times- Latin, French and now English. Russian has been the common language for much of Europe since World War II (I believe that English is beginning to replace Russian, though). Currently, English is the closest thing to an international language. When a Russian visits Italy, what language would you guess that he or she attempts to converse in? Russian? Italian? I would guess English. When my wife and I studied Japanese as a second language at the University of Tokyo, the class was taught in English, despite that fact that we were the only native speakers of English in group of nearly 100 students.

So to answer your question - I don't believe that the majority of Europeans "must" learn English, but, depending upon your profession, etc., fluency in English can make it a lot easier to get ahead.

Here's a joke I heard once - If you speak three languages you're multilingual, if you speak two languages you're bilingual, if you speak one language you're American.
 
Aug 14th, 2000, 08:24 AM
  #4  
Bob K.
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Steve Mueller:
Years back I worked in Florida and witnessed the parents being up in arms, that their kids had to learn Spanish beginning in the primary schools. I too took French way back when, but as you lose what you don't use, the best I can do now is understand menus and street signs.
 
Aug 14th, 2000, 08:38 AM
  #5  
Don
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I say that the reason most of the world does speak English is that it is the international business lanquage-the power of economics!
 
Aug 14th, 2000, 10:38 AM
  #6  
are-u-serious
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BECAUSE THE THIRD REICH LOST !!!!!!!!!!

(otherwise, we'd ALL be spreuchen deutsche.)
 
Aug 14th, 2000, 10:52 AM
  #7  
zzz
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"spreuchen deutsche"????!! what does that mean?
 
Aug 14th, 2000, 11:23 AM
  #8  
Ben Haines
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Dear Mr Schmitt,

Fodors

I agree with all the economic points made so far, and add that I'm glad if educated people across the world have a common language. But I agree also with your implied sense of alarm. It would be a tragedy if national and regional cultures of Europe died away. If you haven't been to Holland or Scandinavoia may I suggest at trip ? There everybody speaks and uses English. But everybody protects, uses, and cherishes their own language and culture. Thisencourages me. We don't have to give way to a multicultural mush.

So may I lightheartedly protest at the loss of German cuisine amongst the plethora of Greek, Italian, Thai, Chinese, Indian, and what-have-you restaurants ? When I want decent duck with red cabbage I have to go to Bohemia.

Aber wirklich, Sie haben etwas wichtig gesagte.

Ben Haines, London



 
Aug 14th, 2000, 01:05 PM
  #9  
Joel
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I'm sorry if this is inappropriate, but I thought it would be appropriate. Again, I'm sorry if this isn't appropriate.

-Joel

"Psycholinguistics to the resku


Having chosen English as the preferred language in the EEC, the European Parliament has commissioned a feasibility study in ways of improving efficiency in communications between Government departments.

"European officials have often pointed out that English spelling is unnecessarily difficult, for example: cough, plough, rough, through and thorough. What is clearly needed is a phased programme of changes to iron out these anomalies. The programme would, of course, be administered by a committee staff at top level by participating nations.

In the first year, for example, the committee would suggest using 's' instead of the soft 'c'. Sertainly sivil servants in all sities would resieve this news with job. Then the hard 'c' could be replaced by 'k' sinse both letters are pronounsed alike. Not only would this klear up konfusion in the minds of klerikal workers, but typewriters kould be made with one less letter.

There would be growing enthusiasm when in the sekond year, it was announsed that the troublesome 'ph' would henseforth be writtne 'f'. This would make words like fotograf' twenty persent shorter in print.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reash the stage where more komplikated shanges are possible. Governments would enkourage the removal of double leters whish have always been a deterent to akurate speling.

We would al agre that the horible mes of silent 'e's in the languag is disgrasful. Therefor we kould drop them and kontinu to read and writ as though nothing had hapend. By this tim it would be four years sins the skem began and peopl would be reseptive to steps sutsh as replasing 'th' by 'z'. Perhaps zen ze funktion of 'w' kould be taken on by 'v', vitsh is, after al, half a 'w'. Shortly after zis, ze unesesary 'o' kould be dropd from vords kontaining 'ou'. Similar arguments vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

Kontinuing zis proses yer after yer, ve vud eventuli hav a reli sensibl riten styl. After tventi yers zer vud be no mor trubls, difikultis and evrivun vud find it ezi tu understand ech ozer. Ze drems of the Guvermnt vud finali hav kum tru."
 
Aug 14th, 2000, 03:43 PM
  #10  
are-u-serious
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I AM A JELLY DONUT (a/k/a "Ich bin ein berliner").

TO: Bee Speller, my very bad german for 'we'd ALL be speaking German'.
 
Aug 14th, 2000, 04:17 PM
  #11  
Christina
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English is more common for business and computer stuff, also, it seems to me, and that is becoming a very important world economic fact. Sometimes languages become more common for a reason and I think there is a reason more people learn English, or want to, than German, for example, and not just for economic reasons. Some languages are not commonly learned for a reason, as they consist of some archaic grammatical structures that make them more difficult to learn and which do not really serve a useful purpose when you analyze them, but only make the language unnecessarily difficult. One example: cases. Cases disappeared from English in the Middle Ages, I believe (and I mean real cases, not the kind some Americans call "objective case" pronouns such as "him" and "her", which are not real cases like in other languages). Czech, for example, has seven cases, and many different forms of even proper nouns, such as the name of a city (ie, there are different forms for the name of Prague depending on the case, Praha being only one of them). Having tried to learn Czech, I understand that there is a reason it is not a common language. German may not be quite that bad, but is unnecessarily complex, IMO (you have four cases, don't you?). I learned French partly for personal reasons as I study piano and like French literature and wanted to read it in the original, as well as understanding and reading a lot about French musicians and French music, etc., their letters and biographies, etc., books I can often get only in French. Also, I simply like reading the beauty of the French language in the original, Flaubert, for example, is a joy to read. Anyway, I have my own reasons, but I have a German friend who even admits she doesn't think German is a very nice-sounding or logical language, nor does she think it beautiful. When I learn a language I want to learn one that is rather versatile--French and Spanish are more useful than German, to me. French is spoken in France, the French Caribbean, Quebec, and lots of Africa, for example. Spanish is useful in South American, Central America, Spain, etc. German? I don't know other than Germany and Austria. Romance languages are easier to speak and learn, in my opinion, as they've adapted to modern usage and have dropped cases. Anyway, a lot of people, me included, get nervous when Germans start talking about wanting to be world superpowers (you don't really mean Third World, which is a term for very poor and undeveloped countries; in fact, I think that term was invented by a French economist) and spreading their culture and language everywhere, given world history. I would think you could understand that. I do admire your country for some of the social policies in terms of helping refugees, health care, etc., though, but I think some of your socialist policies have led to economic problems given your need to try to accommodate the former East Germans and some immigrants. Not sure how they are getting along at this point, especially the women.
 
Aug 14th, 2000, 04:33 PM
  #12  
Art
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Joel, YOU'VE DISCOVERED NEWSPEAK!!!
Some very well thought (thot) out answers in the above posts. I still try to learn a few words in the language of my host country before I visit. I speak fluent Deutch and am trying to learn Spanish as my third (spoken) language. I don't think that any of us (fodorites) necessarily want languages to disapear (they add to the culture of the country) but business almost requires people around the world to learn some english as pointed out above.
I'ch habe ein par bratwurst gestern aben gegession. Das bringt immer meine Deutche zuruck.
 
Aug 14th, 2000, 08:55 PM
  #13  
chris
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Hi Joerg,

I agree with the notion that people of all nations should remember and hold on to their cultures and histories. A quick answer to your question is that all people do not have to learn English, they have a choice to do so if they like.

However, in considering those choices one must weight the good and bad of those choices. I do not think learning english is bad, as long as the individual also learns and maintains his or her use of their home language.

You obviously have pride in your country and that is good to see. However, your pride should not be blinded by realities of world commerce. You contend that Germany is the economic locomative, yet, the financial markets around the world live and die based upon what the US Federal Reserve Bank recommends in terms of interest rates changes.

I am interested to see where you gathered your facts that Germany is the 3rd world superpower. I am not disagreeing, I just do not know. I know of the US, then China, and even Russia with all its financial troubles, still holds a strong military inventory and army.

World reach and communication is the catalyst of any strong language. It seems that most major news organizations have English speaking origins. During the Gulf war and also the war in Serbia, those opposing leaders admit to watching CNN to gather to the facts.

This is not a US is best or Germany is best situation. It is a situation of current realities. As far a universal languages, I remind you that French is the official language of the United Nations, not English nor German. However, when it comes to commerce, English is becoming a universal standard.

But in a quick answer....so what.....that is just commerce. We all have our culture. While you gripe about learning English, I am a US citizen wishing I knew how to speak German and French. Does this suggests that I am wanting to give up my culture??? of course not. It just means I want more out of life. I want to share in and become a part of the german culture and the french culture. I do that by travel, and demonstrating consideration for the destination and people I visit, by trying to speak in their terms.

Life is full of choices and opportunities. I wish you all the best in destinations your choices lead you.

 
Aug 14th, 2000, 09:14 PM
  #14  
Joanna
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Now I'm beginning to understand about trolls and this looks like it might be one. Spelling "Englisch" for "English" and "German"? Why not "Deutsch"?
 
Aug 14th, 2000, 09:20 PM
  #15  
chris
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I had the same feeling Joanna, but I figured the topic as a whole may bring out some good points.
 
Aug 14th, 2000, 09:59 PM
  #16  
elvira
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Language tells more about a culture than just its words. Inuit has many words for snow (sorry, I forget exactly how many, but it's dozens); Navajo has almost the same number for rain. A Jewish friend told me there's a Hebrew word for the relationship between mothers-in-law. Without knowing one word of any of those languages, I would know something about their cultures.

English is becoming a universal (mondial?) language because of the media. The U.S. makes lots of movies that have mass appeal - so they cross borders. Sometimes they have subtitles in other countries, but the English words still play. I had a conversation with a Dutch man when I commented that almost everyone in the Nederlands spoke English - and well. He said that the BBC was broadcast to Holland, and that as traders throughout history, the Dutch have always learned other languages. A sidebar here: at a train station in Amsterdam, a young woman heard me speaking English to someone else, and 'tried out' her English on me. She had Down's Syndrome...and she knew more English than I had a prayer of knowing Flemish. That was a real thunk on the back of my head.

German is tough as a second language (I asked a friend who speaks Arabic and French as first languages, and English, Italian and German as second languages, which was the hardest, expecting him to say English; he said "no, GERMAN, the grammar is brutal!"). Another friend, a German woman who moved here as an adult, speaks perfect English, her accent sounding more like that of folks from Minnesota, suddenly had a German accent. I asked her why, and she said "I have a canker sore on my tongue, so I have to hold it differently". Hmmm...more to this language thing than meets the eye (so to speak).

Bottom line: learn as many languages as you can, but keep your own. To do that, be a good speller, don't fall back on slang, and look up words you don't know. Nothing makes me laugh louder than some knucklehead who spouts "Ainglish shud bay the OWNLIEST langeege in 'Merica". Yup uh huh I want YOU to be MY spokesperson.
 
Aug 15th, 2000, 12:05 AM
  #17  
Myriam
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Jörg,
No one forces you to speak English. If you have a travel question - we're on a travel forum, remember - you may always put it in German. I'm sure there will be lots of people that will try to reply in your language.

Grüsse aus Belgien,
Myriam
 
Aug 15th, 2000, 03:22 AM
  #18  
Hans
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Christina: As for the world power, I guess that Joerg was either speaking about economics or about Chirac's recent speech in which he described Germany as a world power. This made the german politicians at least as nervous as you.

German has its advantages outside of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. At least a few years ago, I found it in former east block countries often more widely spoken than English or French.

I personally doubt that German is much more difficult that French. But I agree that English has the great advantage that one can start to speak while knowing very little grammar. As for the beauty of languages, that's of course a matter of personal taste.

At least in Germany, English normally isn't taught in elementary school. Students start to learn foreign languages with ten and even then they have the choice to start with another language. In this case they start learning English with 12 (that's the way I did it).

I agree with all the people who stated that English is the language used for international communication. My French is clearly worse than my English and I normally end up speaking English with Frenchmen, although we might have had French respectively German in school. The somewhat odd situation exists that I have sometimes more problems to understand a native english speaker than someone who learned it as a second language. People speaking standard english without an accent are easy to understand but there exist some accents which are extremely difficult to follow, at least until one gets used to them after a few hours or days. Not meant offensively, but Americans with strong accents should keep in mind that the people they encounter might have problems to understand them even if they have a knowledge of English. The people might not have spoken English for a few months and if they encounter someone with a strong accent, they might not understand a word. Stupid as it sounds, the joke that everybody understands English if it is spoken loudly and slowly has some thruth in it.
 
Aug 15th, 2000, 04:20 AM
  #19  
joel
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't English a Germanic language?

Also, in my oh so humble opinion, I found a more rigid grammar system to be a bit easier... I speak English as my first langauge, and studied Spanish for a while. In learning Spanish, the most difficult aspect was the irregular conjugations. English, I would claim, is irregular, period. Not to mention the cliches!

And I thought that the UN had two official languages, French AND English??? Was I wrong in that as well?
 
Aug 15th, 2000, 04:27 AM
  #20  
joel
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This may be a bit assonine, but I was a little curious about the "third world superpower" line as well...

Militarily, Germany is quite a ways down on the list. The US, France, UK, and Russia top the list. Numerically, even China, Vietnam, and (if I remember correctly) Indonesia have more soldiers (though not as modern technology).

Economically, isn't Germany Fourth? The U.S. is first, followed by Japan, then China, and then Germany, right?
 

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