Monthly Archives: July, 2010

Global English

Earlier this month I posted about a debate in The Economist over whether the English-speaking world should adopt American English. Some people who commented on the debate pointed out that no single group of people controls the English language – like all languages it is constantly in motion and changing, depending on who uses is(…)


Sign language from space

American Sign Language (ASL) has been given a boost from an unlikely source – the International Space Station. Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson delivered the space station’s first address to the deaf community – a six-minute video for deaf children. The video aims to give children a glimpse of what life is like as an astronaut,(…)


Canadian immigrants face mandatory language test

Controversial news from Canada, where immigration officials have introduced instructions requiring all skilled immigrant applicants to pass a language test. With the UK and France among the top source countries for immigrants to Canada, there are questions as to why, as native English and French speakers, they have to prove their language skills. Previously immigrants(…)


Learn from your mistakes

Schools in Paris, France are encouraging children to make mistakes as part of a ‘festival of errors’. According to intellectuals and education specialists, French children are being taught that errors are negative and this is ‘stifling’ creativity. “A large part of the French school system is based on the idée reçue that errors are negative,(…)


American English – a British take

Following on from my post about the Economist debating whether the English-speaking world should adopt American English, here’s an interesting blog post about some of the differences between American and British English. A sample: But whenever I open my mouth here, I’m conscious that it’s always a bit of an experiment. People think we speak(…)


A Creole language thriving

It’s become fairly common to hear about languages dying, but this is an exception. Papiamentu, a Creole language spoken on a handful of islands off the coast of Venezuela, is showing signs of official acceptance. Spoken by around 250,000 people on the islands of Curaçao, Bonaire and Aruba, the language is used by the media(…)


Economist Debates: Should the English-speaking world adopt American English?

An interesting debate has been running over at The Economist, the matter being English. More specifically: This house believes that the English-speaking world should adopt American English. About the debate: More than 1 billion people are believed to speak some form of English. For every native speaker there are at least three non-native speakers. English(…)


English speakers unable to understand basic grammar

A study conducted at Northumbria University, England, has shown that many native English speakers are unable to understand elements of basic grammar. The project used sample sentences and tested a wide range of adults, including some postgraduate students, asking the participants to identify the meaning of the sentences. Noam Chomsky’s theory of universal grammar assumes(…)