FAQs on Local English, German Version
A beginners` Guide
Dictionary of LOCAL ENGLISH, German version
Why native speakers of English are in dire need of guidance through the “Local English, German Version” of their mother tongue. And, by extension, this is also a beginners` Guide to Neo-Pidginicity.
What is neo-pidginicity?
Neo-pidginicity is the artificially accelerated and manipulated process – or rather linguistic genetic engineering – of attempting to oversimplify and mutilate standard English, the result of which is in all cases some sort of neo-pidgin English. Four mainstream deviations of Standard English contribute to the gradual encroachment of neo-pidgin English on Standard English: They are, in particular:
1. Teaching BGE or Basic Global English as advocated by Dr. Joachim Grzega, a linguist with a mission, is the most infamous approach to pandering to those unwilling to learn Standard English is. It is a teaching programme of his own invention and it has been painstakingly constructed to accelerate the acquisition of a mutilated sort of English. Dr. Grzega has reduced the English grammar to 20 rules, thus linguistically engineering and changing and mutilating the English language. Vocabulary has been reduced with extreme care to 1000 words for children, adult learners, and more recently, business men alike, to explain their world with. The advantage of BGE is that even children and adults with special needs and other impediments can learn it. One is left to wonder whether the non-native propounders of this sort of language would likewise mutilate their German native language with the same blind zeal and dedication. In a newspaper article, Dr Grzega claims that non-native speakers of English with an excellent command of English are harder to understand by other non-native speakers than those who can barely make themselves understood.
2. Unedited documents and publications – frequently of international validity – are passed off as Standard English but in fact they were written by non-native speakers of English often in a substandard, mutilated, and therefore difficult English.
3. The unreflecting acceptance of “Local Englishes” as they grow rampant in their respective countries is also a major factor. Local Englishes are pushing their way into societies violently and unnaturally fast with all their excrescencies. Denglish with its sometimes inexplicable and incomprehensible neologisms also falls into this category.
4. Machine translated websites, documents, and correspondence more often than not leave you guessing, and so does translation software for your home computer. It should, however, be pointed out that Google’s approach to machine translations is best, be that only in the long run. Google feeds its artificial intelligence software with as many human sample translations as possible, just as you would, ideally, feed your brain with as many samples by native speakers of English when learning a new language.
The result of the English “produced” in all these areas of contact is often, at best, a barely elevated Pidgin English. But then, if the role models are substandard, how can the results be otherwise?
What have Local Englishes, Globish and BGE have in common?
They look like English, they sound like English, but they are not English. Being the outlandish varieties of Standard English, they are often ambiguous and frequently tend to resemble verbal puzzles. In many instances, not even native speakers understand these sorts of English. They are often unnatural, substandard, incomprehensible and so deficient that no responsible parents would ever expose their offspring to it if it were their native tongue. They are marked by artificial non-native constructs (grammar and collocations), fancy new words no one can understand, and a novel approach to pronunciation. Thus, they become an obstacle to communicating effectively in both written and spoken English. Guessing the meaning of what is being said becomes the main skill needed to communicate after a fashion.
Why are Local Englishes, Globish and BGE (Basic Global English) on the advance?
The unreflecting acceptance of “Local Englishes, Globish and BGE (Basic Global English) as they grow rampant in their respective countries is a major contributing factor, too. Thus, they are pushing their way into societies in a violent way and unnaturally fast with all their excrescencies.
No one has ever thought of downright outlawing or stigmatizing them as deficient makeshift variants grafted on a bare skeleton of Standard English.
Why is there a need to take into account “Local language needs, that is, new forms of grammar– mostly the truncated variety–, weird words and a novel way of pronunciation”?
Frankly, I do not know. Perhaps it is the inexplicable approach of society as a whole to pandering to those unwilling or who are too lazy to learn Standard English, or society has, for various reasons, tacitly consented to succumbing to incompetence on part of the non-native speakers. One could, however, call this neglect to take corrective action aiding and abetting this unrelenting language engineering process. Many people working in education and the language business and native speaker friends as well tell me that what I am doing must be done. However, they cannot afford to argue against this process because they are dependent on the status quo situation.
How does school-English contribute to all this?
School-English is also a widespread contributor to spreading unnatural and often mutilated and incomprehensible “Local English, German Chapter”. Non-native speaker teachers of English often teach their respective version of “Local English”. “Language assistants, mostly students and almost always non-native speakers of English teach English in expensive language schools. Pre-school teaching leaves much to be desired, too. Non-native English speakers teach some sort of English to the very young at an age, when their minds are extremely “pliable”. By allowing children to speak fluently wrong right from the start, pupils carry forward their pet errors and mistakes become ingrained, and hence, difficult to “delete” at a later stage. This is also true for older children and adult learners. Group work is also problematic. I have taken to calling this sort of exercise “swapping mistakes” with your best friends or classmates. Wittingly or unwittingly, one may pick up errors of all sorts deemed stylistic refinements. Very often they are considered “creative”, but nonetheless they are most likely to be useless or downright wrong constructions or words. In more advanced classes, you may be required to do “peer-editing”, which is similar to group work, but everything is in writing. So be careful when committing yourself while correcting the essays or papers of your non-native speaker schoolmates or fellow-students.
Benign and permissive teaching methods, that is, the social-worker syndrome, are a major problem, too. Displaying empathy, compassion, understanding and tolerance and kindness seem more important than teaching how to convey information effectively.
In short: Implicit or open acceptance of substandard language, glossing over low standards in all areas in which English is used and the obvious absence of any incentive to learn English up to the level which could be achieved are major factors, too.
At what point in time does a new Local English word or a novel non-native English grammatical construction officially become part of our “Local English, German Chapter vocabulary”?
As a rule, words have only been absorbed informally as yet. This is the first dictionary intended to document this fast growing folly. There are, however, some categories into which the etymology of local words and grammar constructions can be classified. Firstly, duration and the absence of any angry protestations seem to be justifiable indicators of a local need. The doctrine “Anything goes”, which is doggedly pursued in education, is thus applied with maximum efficiency. Another instance of this would be the “authority-syndrome”. Opinion-makers and other “reliable sources” invent, often out of ignorance or incompetence, new constructs or words, thus they can spread unhindered. Learners pick them up because they think them worthy of emulating since the sources are considered role models. Last, but not least, it is frequently sheer incompetence that makes this influx of substandard language possible.
What are the advantages of the “Local English, German Chapter” over Standard English?
This would obviously depend on your objectives and on your set of mind. If you want the easy way out, the following bits of advice apply to. You should, however, be aware, that in many cases, you will not be understood at all, particularly not by native speakers of English, and you will have to learn a few communication tricks so as to make your interlocutors believe that you understand them and that you know more English than you actually do.
Nodding and saying yes in the right places and laughing at jokes you do not understand is then of paramount importance.
But there are more “rewards” than the above mentioned ones. Speakers are relieved from the need to use the tried and tested code of communication, which Standard English is. You can say just anything that comes to your mind.
If you opt for this choice, you will then have been granted a sort of fool’s licence. Communicating uninhibitedly is the main objective, just like in a therapy class – content and clarity are not. Marks are often adjusted upwardly for “verbal audacity”, for the temerity of speaking fluently wrong while you believe what you are saying is correct because your teacher will hardly ever correct you. According to the theory underlying these practices, mistakes will disappear with time. But, in reality, they become “undeletable” or they are very difficult to correct at a later stage.
Incidentally, this attitude seems to be, according to a recent bestseller in Germany, the prevailing one among the “Generation of Thickies”, such is the title of this book. In a nutshell, it is: “We don’t know anything, we cannot do anything properly and we are proud of it!”
How do I cope with Local Englishes although I do not put up with them?
Abide by the role model standards set by native speakers of English be that in films, DVDs, books, TV, radio broadcasts, websites, etc. When you are an advanced student or, to use a neologism a “truly advanced” student of English, attend only English classes where native speaker teachers of English teach English. Avoid anything resembling non-native speaker English in your learning stage. Be critical of what is going on in the classroom. Feel free to do a rigorous analysis of what is going on at the receiving end in the teaching process, which may help you in reassessing the status quo. Make sure, you do not absorb any mistakes you are likely to hear. You are not immune from progressively picking up substandard English, unless you manage to set up a very good “firewall” shielding you from unnatural content. Do not believe the bold statement that mistakes are not important. This is a statement one often hears in the “sandbox” school or university. More often than not, they are very, very ambiguous if not downright funny.