Friday, September 09, 2011

Academic sports analogy fail

"When an American speaks of not getting to first base (not achieving initial success), the metaphor concerns . . . (a)n equally culture-specific- activity: the game of basketball."

Quirk et al (1972) quoted in Bhatia (1997).

Not sure whether Quirk or Bhatia got it wrong here, but man, did they ever.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

English and the "Chinese Way of Thinking" - Really?

Saying that CE is based on the "Chinese way of thinking" is just an argument I can hardly find any sympathy for. Maybe because it hews too close to the "strong form" of linguistic relativity? Maybe because Lin Yutang was a very Chinese dude but he wrote like an American public intellectual? Maybe because I am just not trained to accept arguments that seem to be based on reified ideas about culture and psychology?

Do we see this argument in other expanding circle contexts, or by other NNEST scholars of English in other countries?

Is this a "Chinese exceptionalism" argument?

Is the phrase "Chinese way of thinking" itself "Chinglish?" [See the book to the left (中国人的思维) ]

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Note to NESs: Learn to Speak English

"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."

- A reasonable section of the book "Globish the World Over" which is also part missionary tract for a particular version of intercultural communication in English (you're supposed to learn to speak Engish with only 1500 words, and everyone uses the same 1500 words). (While this, like most other attempts to engineer a language, will fail, their point above is very true.)

Further thought: If you can, as a NES, master intercultural communication in this "limited" English, you will pretty much be unstoppable. Linguistic "pwnage" can still be yours. Don't worry.