Jose Carillo's Forum


France’s prime minister orders colleagues to stop using English

April 30, 2013—France’s Prime Minister has ordered his cabinet to stop using English after two colleagues named a new proposal the “silver economy.”

Jean-Marc Ayrault wrote a sternly worded letter telling ministers: “The language of the republic is French.”

The PM’s edict comes after the French culture ministry to issued a list of English words to be banned from their language, including “email,” “blog,” “supermodel,” “take-away,” and “low-cost airline.”

Now Mr. Ayrault has told ministers: “Our language is able to express every contemporary reality, and describe innovations that are constantly being born in the areas of science and technology.

“French has been inscribed in the constitution since 1992 as the language of administration and of the courts.”

The “Silver Economy” is a plan being proposed by industry minister Arnaud Montebourg and pensioners’ minister Michele Delaunay to group together all businesses related to older generations.

One of their advisers attempted to justify the now-forbidden term saying: “The English term seems to us most appropriate for a sector planning to expand exports.”

In January, France’s official language police, the Academie Francaise, called for the French to stop using the words “hashtag” and “cloud computing.”

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California educators sued to improve English language education

LOS ANGELES, April 25 (AP)—About 20,000 students in California who need to learn English aren’t getting adequate language instruction, according to a lawsuit against the state and education workers filed Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Under state and federal law, schools are required to teach non-English speakers the language, but by its own records, the state isn’t offering English instruction to nearly 20,000 students. The suit alleges that lack of instruction has meant some children had to be held back a grade or live with low proficiency scores because of a language barrier.

The ACLU brought the issue to the attention of the state with a letter in January, and officials say they’re working to ensure compliance at the local level.

Attorney Mark Rosenbaum said in Wednesday’s filing that English learners fall behind without proper language lessons, even as school districts collect federal funds for providing such education.

“These kids are not getting the differentiated learning they’re supposed to be getting,” Rosenbaum said.

Chief Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard Zeiger said in a statement that the state is determined to provide English learners appropriate instruction and encouraged parents to bring problems to the state’s attention.

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Business English: Who’s number 1? Really?
By R.L.G.,

NEW YORK, April 24, 2013—What country's non-native English-speakers speak the best business English in the world? Try to think of five countries before reading on.

Done? The answer, according to GlobalEnglish, is probably not what you think. (GlobalEnglish is owned by Pearson, which part-owns The Economist).


Remember that the survey tested non-native speakers, so don’t be too distracted by the placement of the Anglophone countries. Still, Global English’s results are very strange. If you thought that the Philippines has the best business English in the world, and that Germany would miss the top 25, you haven’t had the same work and travel experiences I have.

Global English says this about its Business English Index:

The GOE [Globalisation of English] and BEI [Business English Index] together give us a complete picture of the trends, achievements and challenges in business communication and the importance of Business English in the workplace.

If this is a complete picture, we have a genuine stop-the-presses moment here: Madagascar, Bulgaria and Romania well ahead of Denmark, Switzerland and Germany?  Spain just behind Angola? If this doesn’t violate your common sense about the relative quality of English around the world, look at a few neighboring and demographically similar countries. Slovenia miles ahead of Slovakia and the Czech Republic? Argentina and Uruguay leagues ahead of Chile?

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Bitter war against the English language intensifies in Quebec
By Hillary Brenhouse, Time Magazine

MONTREAL, April 8, 2013—To live in Quebec is to become accustomed to daily reminders that French in the Canadian province is the most regulated language in the world. Try, as I did recently, to shop at Anthropologie online and you’ll come up empty-handed. The retail chain (which bears a French name) opened its first Montreal boutique in October, but “due to the Charter of the French Language” has had its site shut down: “We hope you’ll visit us in store!”

Montreal’s transit authority maintains that under the present language law, its ticket takers must operate in French, which lately has spurred complaints from passengers. Last year, the city of Montreal erected 60 English safety signs nearby Anglophone schools in an effort to slow passing vehicles. The Quebec Board of the French Language and its squad of inspectors ordered that they be taken down; a snowy drive through town revealed that all had been replaced by French notices.

Since the Parti Québécois (PQ), which calls for national sovereignty for Quebec, won a minority government in September, the reminders have become increasingly less subtle. In February, a language inspector cited the swank supper club Buonanotte, which occupies a stretch of St. Laurent Boulevard, Montreal’s cultural and commercial artery, for using Italian words like pasta on its otherwise French menu. The ensuing scandal, which has come to be known as “pastagate,” took social media by storm. “These are problems we had in the 1980s,” says restaurant owner Massimo Lecas. “They were over and done with; we could finally concentrate on the economy and fixing potholes. And then this new government brought them all back. These issues might never go away now, and that is a scary sort of future.”

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The number of English-speaking imams in Britain is rising at last

LONDON, April 13, 2013—On Fridays about 6,000 men and women gather for prayers at the East London Mosque in Whitechapel. They are a diverse bunch: Algerian, Bangladeshi, Indian, Moroccan, Pakistani, Somali, South African. The mosque’s imams preach every sermon three times, in different languages. They are now looking for a new imam to join them. Among the requirements are that he be British-born and speak English.

The Muslims who came to Britain in the 1960s and 1970s, mostly from Bangladesh and Pakistan, brought their religious leaders with them. Few spoke English, nor did the government require them to do so. Stranded in the smokestack towns of northern England, struggling to decode the broad local accents, Muslims found comfort in hearing their mother tongues at the local mosque.

That is now changing. Nobody knows exactly how many imams there are in Britain, let alone what languages they speak. But Muslim leaders such as Ibrahim Mogra, a Leicester imam and senior member of the Muslim Council of Britain, say that the number of English-speakers is growing. And fewer preachers are coming from abroad, he reckons.

Official pressure is one reason. In 2006, the year after Islamist suicide-bombers killed 52 other people in London, the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board was established to develop standards on issues such as the accreditation of imams. A government review published in 2010 concluded that imams were not equipped to help young British Muslims cope with problems such as unemployment, racism and drugs. It suggested better accreditation and more thorough training in subjects beyond theology. The visa regime has gradually tightened and English language requirements have been introduced for those who wish to enter Britain specifically as religious ministers.

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China officials call for reform of English language assessments

March 22, 2013—Chinese political advisers have called for reforms of the English language testing system to make it more effective in cultivating actual language ability.

“Currently, the English testing system in China puts too much pressure on students to get high marks and ignores the development of their comprehensive language capabilities,” said Yang Xueyi, a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee member and Party chief of Beijing Foreign Studies University.

“Some changes in the evaluation procedures of English examinations are necessary for the sound development of the national English education system,” he said.

Yang said the English component in the National College Entrance Examination for senior high school students, or gaokao, should diversify its evaluation criteria to get a more objective assessment of the students' English abilities.

“For English, the students' daily achievements in studying the language should be taken into account, instead of judging their ability with just one test,” said Yang, who is also a professor of English language and literature.

He pointed out that one of the biggest challenges in developing English education in China is a traditional lack of emphasis on spoken English.

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Japan takes aim at English education, seeks to boost TOEFL levels

March 29, 2013—The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is on a quest to reform the educational system in order to foster global talent to reverse the nation’s declining competitiveness on the world stage, and English-language studies have been especially targeted for improvement.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to spend ¥1 trillion to create a “globalized” workforce via educational reforms.

A key component will be English education. Abe set a goal to double the number of doctorates in the language to 35,000 and distribute tablet computers to all students from elementary school to high school by 2020 in a bid to rejuvenate science studies.

The LDP plan would mandate that people reach or exceed a threshold in scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to gain college admission and graduation, and to qualify for government jobs.

The LDP’s education revitalization headquarters sought approval Thursday from its member lawmakers before submitting the plan to Abe on Monday, but some lawmakers argued that high TOEFL scores do not necessarily equate with English fluency.

“Mandating (certain TOEFL scores for) all Japanese college (students) sounds to me like colonial policy,” said one LDP lawmaker who is against the introduction of the tests administered by an American company. “We should instead teach Japanese history and culture.”

In 2010, Japan’s average score TOEFL iBT score was 69 — among the worst three out of 33 Asian countries. The LDP plan would require that students at 30 select colleges score 90 to graduate and mandate that all high school students score 45 or better to earn a diploma.

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English language debated, faces uncertain future in Quebec with proposed rules
By Nadine Kalinauskas, Daily Brew

QUWBWC, March 22, 2013—Pauline Marois' proposed Bill 14, the first substantial revision of Bill 101, Quebec's 1977 Charter of the French language, has sparked a language crisis in the province.

Bill 14 contains a whopping 155 proposed amendments to the Charter of the French Language, all of which are designed to enable francophones to never have to speak a non-French language as long as they reside within Quebec's borders. Bilingualism will be a thing of the past.
Barbara Kay outlines what she considers “a pathological attack on the sin of speaking English” in the National Post:

“To this end Bill 14 would co-opt all public institutions, municipalities, school boards, unions, private enterprises and even ordinary Quebecers as participants and – not to put too fine a point on it – occasional spies in the great common project of suppressing English. That the project would radically diminish the freedoms and quality of life of non-francophones seems irrelevant, perhaps even a matter of satisfaction, to this government,” she writes.

She lists some of the proposed amendments by the Parti Quebecois:

1. English-speaking members of the Armed Forces living in Quebec temporarily will lose their right to send their children to English schools. Language Minister Diane de Courcy calls this current provision a loophole for people to use to bypass the French education system, something she wants to put an end to.

2. Municipalities with less than 50 per cent anglophone residents will lose their bilingual status.
“French as a common language is a noble, unifying objective. Apparently some Anglophones in these municipalities think that if they want to buy a bus ticket they should be able to buy it in English…can't they even use French that much?” Charles Castonguay, a member of Syndicalistes et progressistes pour un Québec libre, said at a hearing on Wednesday.

3. Employers will be required to justify their need for employees who speak any language other than French — and risk being sued by employees required to speak English.
On Thursday night, during a two-hour long panel on the future of English in Quebec, notable Quebecois raised their voices in heated debate.

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English-language studies “destructive” to China’s education, says Chinese official
March 13, 2013—The head of a national research institute in China said English-language studies were “destructive” to education, which is facing an “unprecedented crisis.”

Schools are placing too much emphasis on English, said Zhang Shuhua, head of the Intelligence Research Academy, adding that language studies should be treated as a means for social reform and development, but, instead, they are seen as an end.

He called it putting the cart before the horse. Zhang made the remarks on Monday at a discussion session during an annual gathering of China’s political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

Zhang said many students with good academic performance have been blocked from universities because of poor English test scores, government news portal reported on Monday.

He added that recent “English enthusiasm” in China has taken up a large chunk of educational resources, at a high cost but with little gains.

Zhang argued it was “absolutely unnecessary” to impose English-language studies on students who pursue professions in Chinese medicine, ancient Chinese language, Chinese history and others that do not require the use of a foreign language.

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English-language invasion troubles Finnish academia

FINLAND, March 3, 2013—Today more and more university courses are being offered in English but not everyone’s happy about the development, which is seen as undermining Finland’s official languages.

“It’s hard to say what will happen if English continues to take over,” said Taina Saarinen, who researches languages in higher education at Jyväskylä University.

Saarinen calls the phenomenon—which is also being seen in the other Nordics—”anglophone asymmetry”.

“We’re small countries who want to use attractive English-language programmes to draw in foreign students and researchers,” she explained.

Nowadays it’s not uncommon for Finnish researchers to only publish scholarly papers in English.

Given the dominant role of English in the wider academic world, wouldn’t switching to English make sense?

Not according to Pirkko Nuolijärvi, who advocates on behalf of the country’s two official languages.

“It’s important that both languages are used in academic circles. If we don’t, we may start losing words and expressions, which will lead to impoverished vocabularies in daily life, too,” said Nuolijärvi, who heads the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland.

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New Folio Prize opens for all English-language fiction published in UK

LONDON, March 13, 2013—A new literary prize is hoping to beat the Booker to the title of Britain’s most prestigious fiction award—in part by including Americans.

Unlike the Booker Prize, which is open to British, Irish and Commonwealth writers, organizers said Wednesday the new Folio Prize will be open to any English-language writer whose work has been published in Britain.

The Folio Prize will hand out its inaugural 40,000 pound ($60,000) purse in March 2014.

The award was set up by a group of writers, publishers and agents amid debate over whether the 44-year-old Booker Prize is guilty of dumbing down. Recent Booker winners have included relatively best-selling authors such as Hilary Mantel and Julian Barnes, leading to criticism that edgier voices are being overlooked.

The new prize is named for its sponsor, publisher The Folio Society.

The prize rules state that each year a panel of five judges will be drawn by lot from a 100-strong Folio Academy of “highly respected, award-winning writers and critics from across the globe.” It’s a high-profile group, dotted with Booker and Pulitzer winners, that includes novelists Margaret Atwood, Pat Barker, Peter Carey, Mohsin Hamid, Junot Diaz and Salman Rushdie.

The five judges will include three members from Britain and two from elsewhere, and can contain no more than three men or three women.

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Germany’s president advocating English as EU’s official language

BERLIN, February 22, 2013—Germany’s president has called for English to be made the language of the European Union as he appealed to the UK to stay in the EU.

Joachim Gauck earned applause for his remarks, made in Berlin on Friday in a speech on Europe’s future at a time of rising German skepticism towards Brussels.

“Dear English, Scots, Welsh, Northern Irish and new British citizens, we want to continue having you on board,” he said. “We need your experience as the oldest parliamentary democracy, we need your traditions, your sober-mindedness and your courage.”

He said that to encourage a greater sense of commonality, Europe needed a common language as well as encouraging multilingualism. “I am convinced that, in Europe, both can live side by side,” he said. “The sense of being at home in your mother tongue, with all its poetry, as well as a workable English for all of life’s situations and all age groups.”

Appealing to Britons’ sense of historical responsibility he emphasized the formative role the UK had played in founding modern Europe by its fight against Nazi Germany; if only for that reason, he said, the UK had an important role to play.

“You helped to save our Europe with your engagement in the second world war – it is also your Europe, and more Europe cannot mean a Europe without you. Only with you can we tackle the future.”

The remarks, which took up two minutes of his hour-long speech, followed David Cameron’s pledge to call a referendum on Britain’s EU relationship, a prospect that has caused much consternation and criticism in Berlin.

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English teenagers “worst in Europe” at languages
By Andrew Marszal,

February 15, 2013—British teenagers are trapped in a “vicious circle of monolingualism”, a report warned yesterday as figures showed English youngsters are among the worst in Europe at foreign languages.

Teenagers in 14 different European countries were tested on their ability to speak the first foreign language taught in schools, which for England was French.

In reading, writing and listening tests, English pupils were ranked bottom.

The study suggests youngsters are lagging far behind their European peers, with many unable to understand more than basic words or phrases.

Just 11 per cent of English pupils studying French were considered “independent users” in writing – the lowest in Europe for a first foreign language. In comparison, across all countries, two-fifths of students were at this level.

Only 9.2 per cent were ranked in the top category for French reading – again, the lowest in Europe for a first foreign language.

The highest performers overall, based on reading, listening and writing skills, were Sweden, Malta and the Netherlands, the research found.

But France, where students’ English skills were tested, also performed badly, perfoming second-worst in all three disciplines.

The study, conducted as part of the European Survey on Language Competences (ESLC) was released on the same day a new report from the British Academy found that the UK’s poor foreign language skills were hurting the economy.

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Why speaking English can make you poor when you retire
By Tim Bowler, BBC News

February 23, 2013—Could the language we speak skew our financial decision-making, and does the fact that you’re reading this in English make you less likely than a Mandarin speaker to save for your old age?

It is a controversial theory which has been given some weight by new findings from a Yale University behavioral economist, Keith Chen.

Prof. Chen says his research proves that the grammar of the language we speak affects both our finances and our health.

Bluntly, he says, if you speak English you are likely to save less for your old age, smoke more and get less exercise than if you speak a language like Mandarin, Yoruba or Malay.

Prof. Chen divides the world’s languages into two groups, depending on how they treat the concept of time.

Strong future-time reference languages (strong FTR) require their speakers to use a different tense when speaking of the future. Weak future-time reference (weak FTR) languages do not.

“If I wanted to explain to an English-speaking colleague why I can’t attend a meeting later today, I could not say ‘I go to a seminar’, English grammar would oblige me to say ‘I will go, am going, or have to go to a seminar’.

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Polish is second most-spoken language in England and Wales

LONDON, February 1, 2013—Polish is the second-most spoken language in England and Wales, figures from the 2011 census have revealed, followed by Punjabi and Urdu.

More than 92 per cent of residents spoke English as their main language, and most of the rest spoke it well, although 138,000 residents—less than 0.5 per cent—did not speak English at all, the Office for National Statistics said.

One per cent, or 546,000 people, listed Polish as their main language, a reflection of the wave of eastern European migrants who moved to Britain after the enlargement of the European Union in 2004.

This week the former prime minister Tony Blair was given an award by Polish business leaders for opening the British labour market to Poland during his decade in office from 1997 to 2007.

Polish speakers were concentrated in London, which unsurprisingly had the highest proportion of non-native English speakers. Twenty-two per cent, or 1.7 million people, listed a main language other than English in the capital.

The figures are likely to fuel a row over immigration from Bulgaria and Romania, as the British government prepares for the lifting of controls on new EU arrivals at the end of the year.

Nationwide, Punjabi was the third most common language, spoken by 273,000 people or 0.5 per cent, concentrated in the West Midlands, where it is the second most popular language.

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Hong Kong trails rival Singapore in students’ English skills

HONG KONG, February 3, 2013—Every Saturday afternoon Cindy Tse takes her eight-year-old son to a private class near his school, where he joins other children for two hours under the guidance of an expatriate teacher.

“We want to increase his chances of listening and talking in English, as he goes to a Chinese-medium school,” says the doting mother.

Many others like her spare no efforts in brushing up their children’s language skills—and not just in English. Demand for Putonghua teachers is soaring as China’s clout in the global economy increases.

Since 2009, the Education Bureau has delivered HK$10 million under a special grant to 47 schools to promote six languages other than Chinese and English - Urdu, Hindi, German, Japanese, French and Spanish.

About 15,000 people study French in Hong Kong in primary, secondary and tertiary education classes, with private tutors, at private centres or at the Alliance Francaise—a global institute promoting French language and culture. The French consul said last year that French had become Hong Kong’s fourth language.

But while it has long been a key goal of the government to foster bilingualism in Hong Kong, the language skills of the city’s young people have become a cause of significant concern.

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The five most persuasive words in the English language
By Gregory Ciotti,

December 12, 2012—When it comes to assembling persuasive copy, like any other construction job, you need to rely on your skills, experience, and toolbox.

The toolbox of the writer is filled with words.

In defining what I believe is a critical element of crafting effective copy, I’ll make my case by amending the famous quote from Animal Farm: “All words are equal, but some words are more equal than others.”

And there are certain power words that hold more sway over our decision-making process than others. You might be surprised to find that these “power words” don’t seem ... well, all that powerful.

This speaks to just how damned efficient they are. Simple language is crystal-clear language, and these words make it clear just what you want your reader to do.

And you might be surprised just how effective these deceptively simple words can be.

I’ve listed these words below (along with studies related to their power) that will show you how to speak more persuasively to your audience.

[The words are, according to the author, “you,” “free,” “because,” “instantly,” and “new.”]

Warning: I can’t stress enough—just as in the application of writing headlines that work -- you must understand why these words are persuasive, and you must use them in the contexts that make sense for your audience and your business. If you just start slapping them on every piece of content you create for no apparent reason, you’ll quickly see just how unpersuasive they can be.

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Top 10 best U.S. universities in English language and literature

IRELAND, December 28, 2012—The English language is universal. If you know how to speak and write it well, there is a greater chance you’d be understood by people you meet even in non-English-speaking regions or countries. The thing is more and more people learn the language each day and as technology evolves, people are given easy access to tools they could use to learn to either speak, write or both.

Students majoring English Language and Literature can pursue careers in journalism, education and even technical. One of the countries people can learn correct English is the United States for two reasons; (1) English is the primary language and (2) there are many universities and colleges offering English Language and Literature courses. Here are 10 of them…

Harvard University. Being America’s first institution of higher learning, it is expected to excel in almost all curriculum. Many of the most successful personalities in print media, television and the internet come from Harvard. Based on the data presented by US News, the university comes with an overall score of 85.3 with academic reputation of 84.0.

Yale University. It is one of the most successful universities. It never stopped growing and expanding ever since it was founded in year 1701. It is ranked second after Harvard University because it has an overall score of 82.4 and academic reputation of 81.4.

University of California, Berkeley. Widely known as “Cal,” the university is popular for the size and quality of its laboratories and library, the scope of its research and publications, and the distinction of its faculty and students. With 81.1 as its overall score and academic reputation of 81.2, it is the closest rival of Yale.

Columbia University. It is one of the most important centers of research while being a good learning environment for undergraduate and graduate students. Columbia University comes with an overall score of 81.0 and academic reputation of 80.8.

Stanford University. Founded in 1885, Stanford is one of the leading educational and research institutions in the United States. An overall score of 79.2 and an academic reputation of 78.0 put the university on the fifth place in this list.

Princeton University. It is the fourth oldest university in the U.S. and considered one of the most historic universities. In 1783, Nasau Hall, which is located inside its campus, was the temporary capitol of the United States. Ranking data put it in the sixth place in this list for it has an academic score of 77.7 and overall score of 78.0.

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Learn English online: How the Internet is changing language
By Jane O’Brien, BBC News Magazine

December 14, 2012—Online, English has become a common language for users from around the world. In the process, the language itself is changing.

When America emerged from the ashes of a bruising war with Britain in 1814, the nation was far from united. Noah Webster thought that a common language would bring people together and help create a new identity that would make the country truly independent of the British.

Webster’s dictionary, now in its 11th edition, adopted the Americanised spellings familiar today - er instead of re in theatre, dropping the u from colour, and losing the double l from words such as traveller. It also documented new words that were uniquely American such as skunk, opossum, hickory, squash and chowder.

An American Dictionary of the English Language took 18 years to complete and Webster learned 26 other languages in order to research the etymology of its 70,000 entries.

The internet is creating a similar language evolution, but at a much faster pace.

There are now thought to be some 4.5 billion web pages worldwide. And with half the population of China now on line, many of them are written in Chinese.

Still, some linguists predict that within 10 years English will dominate the internet - but in forms very different to what we accept and recognise as English today.

That’s because people who speak English as a second language already outnumber native speakers. And increasingly they use it to communicate with other non-native speakers, particularly on the internet where less attention is paid to grammar and spelling and users don’t

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“Apocalypse” dominates the English language in 2012

December 27, 2012—“Apocalypse” is the most popular English word on the planet, at least according to the Global Language Monitor, a Texas-based research group that uses computer tracking technology to follow the frequency of actual word and phrase usage across 275,000 print, online and social media sources on five continents.

The choice “reflects a growing fascination with various ‘end-of-the-world’ scenarios, or at least the end of life as we know it. This year the Mayan Apocalypse was well noted, but some eight of the top words and phrases were directly related to a sense of impending doom,” said Paul JJ Payack, president of the group.

“These included apocalypse, Bak’tun, Frankenstorm, global warming, climate change, God Particle, rogue nukes, solar max, near-Earth asteroid,” he explains. Even fleeting references to the U.S. presidential elections references such as “Obamageddon” or “Romneygeddon” come into play, he says.

No. 2 on the word list? It’s “deficit,” Mr. Payack advises.

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Professors claim English descended from Scandinavia, not Anglo-Saxon

November 30, 2012—Two leading Professors have rejected the idea that English descends from Anglo-Saxon, and instead claim they have proof that its origin derives from Scandinavia.

Professor of linguistics Jan Terje Faarlund from the University of Oslo and his colleague Professor Joseph Emmonds, from Palacký University in the Czech Republic, believe that English comes from the Northern Germanic language group, just like Norwegian. This breaks with other language researchers and the rest of the world, who believe that English descends directly from Old English.

Professor Faarlund says, “Modern English is a direct descendant of the language of Scandinavians who settled in the British Isles in the course of many centuries, before the French-speaking Normans conquered the country in 1066.”

He points out that Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is a West Germanic language, which the Angles and Saxons brought with them from northern Germany and southern Jylland when they settled in the British Isles in the fifth century.

The Professor continues, “Old English and Modern English are two very different languages. Why? We believe it is because Old English quite simply died out while Scandinavian survived, albeit strongly influenced of course by Old English.”

While many native English-speakers struggle to learn Norwegian, Professor Faarlund believes it’s no coincidence that Scandinavians, especially Norwegians, learn English relatively easily. He says: “It’s true that many of the English words resemble our own (in Norwegian, for example). But there is more behind it. Even the fundamental structure of the language is amazingly similar to Norwegian. We often avoid mistakes that others (speaking other languages) make in English, because the grammar is much the same.”

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English test creates workplace risks, says Australian nursing federation

November 30, 2012—Patients are at risk because some foreign nurses have poor English skills, the nurses’ union warns.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation claims a flawed English language test is responsible for unnecessary workplace risks and has called for it to be scrapped and replaced by one focused on testing language used in the workplace.

“It is not beneficial for the patients, colleagues, or that person to be floundering in an environment that is fast-paced because they are struggling with their English communication,” the federation's state secretary Elizabeth Dabars said.

 “There could be particularly unfortunate consequences and people who make mistakes have to live with that for the rest of their lives.”

The International English Language Testing System was adopted by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia in July 2010.

It requires a seven out of 10 pass mark in each of the listening, reading, writing and speaking tests.

The system is used as a test for “entry into an academic institution,” according to its website.

Examples of the tests include answering questions about an essay on introducing dung beetles into a pasture and answering questions after listening to a verbal description of how to send a package by ship.

New research by the Adelaide University Nursing School into the language test found foreign nurses whose secondary schooling was in English  such as in the Philippines  had a lower pass mark (17.7 per cent) than those who didn't, such as China (18.5 per cent).

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How trench talk from WW1 entrenched the English language

LONDON, November 26 (ANI)—In a new study, researchers have revealed the impact the First World War had on the English language and the words it introduced.

The new research has shown how the conflict meant that hundreds of words and phrases came into common parlance thanks to the trenches.

Among the list of everyday terms found to have originated or spread from the conflict are cushy, snapshot, bloke, wash out, conk out, blind spot, binge drink and pushing up daisies.

The research has been conducted by Peter Doyle, a military historian, and Julian Walker, an etymologist, who have analysed thousands of documents from the period - including letters from the front, trench newspapers, diaries, books and official military records - to trace how language changed during the four years of the war.

They found that the war brought military slang into the mainstream, imported French and even German words to English and saw words from local dialects become part of national conversation.

“The war was a melting plot of classes and nationalities, with people thrown together under conditions of stress,” the Telegraph quoted Walker, who works at the British Library, as saying.
“It was a very creative time for language. Soldiers have always had a genius for slang and coming up with terms.

“This was a citizen army—and also the first really literate army—and at the end of the war, those that survived took their new terms back to the general population,” he said.

The results of the research are included in a new book Trench Talk: Words of the First World War, which documents how new words and phrases originated, while others were spread from an earlier, narrow context, to gain new, wider meanings.

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Most European languages unlikely to survive online, says report

A new study warns that less-common languages are in danger of disappearing from the Internet.

Tongues including Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian and Maltese simply have too few speakers to gain a foothold, and too few examples online to power translation engines. While they are among those with the highest risk for digital extinction, no language — other than English — is safe.

Even Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish were shown to have no better than “moderate support,” when it came to resources to fuel increasingly sophisticated technology such as speech-to-text and voice-controlled devices.

The study, “Europe’s Languages in the Digital Age,” was carried out by META-NET, a European nonprofit that aims to future-proof at least 30 of the 80 languages spoken in Europe. META-NET has designated Sept. 26 as The European Day of Languages.

The researchers assessed language technology software, including spell and grammar checkers, virtual personal assistants such as Siri on the iPhone, online translators such as Google Translate and car navigation systems to see how well languages are represented digitally.

Languages are often automatically translated by comparing each new sentence against thousands of sentences previously translated by people and stored in a database. The better the match, the more accurate the result. But statistical methods are doomed to fail in the case of languages with smaller pools of sample data, the study said.

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Language teaching on the rise, English still dominates

September 25, 2012—An increasing number of students are taught foreign languages in European schools, according to a new report.

From 2005 to 2010, the percentage of students enrolled in primary education in a European school and learning a foreign language rose from 67.5% to 79.2%.

This is one of the conclusions in the newly released report Key Data on Teaching Languages at School in Europe 2012 by Eurydice and Eurostat, produced in cooperation with the European Commission.

The survey, which covers 15 educational systems in Europe, also found that while the age of students starting to learn a foreign language has decreased, the amount of time taught has not significantly increased.

“Taught time dedicated to foreign languages is rather low compared to other subjects,” the report stated.

In Europe, students are generally between 6 and 9 years old when they have to start learning a foreign language. In Belgium, children in the German-speaking community are even younger and start their first foreign language in pre-primary education from the age of 3.

Many other countries have in recent years introduced reforms which begin foreign language classes at an earlier age.

In the majority of European countries, learning two foreign languages for at least one year during compulsory education is an obligation for all students.

On average, 60.8% of students enrolled in lower secondary education in Europe were learning two or more foreign languages in the school year 2009/10 compared to 46.7% in the year 2004/05.

English is still by far the most taught foreign language in nearly all countries from primary level and onwards. Overall, English is a mandatory language in 14 countries or regions within countries.

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Chinese Internet users to overtake English language users by 2015
By Conrad Quilty-Harper,

The number of internet users accessing the web in Chinese is set to overtake English language users by 2015, according to a report by the UN Broadband Commission.

In May 2011, there were 565 million English internet users, compared to 510 million Chinese users, representing 27 per cent and 24 per cent of total global internet users, respectively.

The report predicts that if current growth rates continue, Chinese will overtake English as the main language used by internet users in 2015.

This switch is largely due to China’s massive population, now over 1.3 billion people.
Just under 40 per cent of people in China use the internet, compared to 82 per cent in the United Kingdom, and 78 in the United States.

Internet adoption in China is happening with a stronger emphasis on mobile phones. Nearly half of all smartphones are now sold in China, but only 12 out of every 100 individuals have a fixed broadband subscription.

The report ranks every country on various different measures of connectivity, including households with internet access, the number of individuals who use the internet, and the number of mobile and fixed broadband lines.

Nearly 2.26 billion people, a third of the world’s population, were using the internet by the end of 2011. By 2016 this number is expected to rise to 40 per cent, or 3 billion people, thanks in large part to the widespread adoption of mobile internet usage.

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Hong Kong loves weird English names
By Joyce Man,

HONG KONG, October 1, 2012—Devil. Whale. Chlorophyll, Violante, Treacle—you name it, Hong Kong probably has someone who goes by it. The former British colony is obsessed with weird English names.

Unusual appellations have been found on people of all kinds. The secretary for justice is Rimsky Yuen and the previous secretary for food and health was York Chow. Among celebrities, there is a Fanny Sit, Moses Chan, and Dodo Cheng. Models? We have a Vibeke, Bambi, Dada, and Vonnie. But lawyers take the prize. There is a Magnum, John Baptist, Ludwig, Ignatius, Bunny and four -- yes, four -- Benedicts.

Odd names make for odder situations. Last July, police arrested a woman named Ice Wong with 460 grams of ice—the drug, not frozen water. Months earlier, the law caught up with Devil Law when he was brought before a judge for drug possession and crashing his car into a bus. In 2010, a woman called Cash Leung was jailed for paying cabbies with fake cash.

There are so many examples that one blogger keeps a list titled “HKSAR Name of the Day.” HKSAR Blog, which is in its third year running, has almost 2,000 entries in the list.

Linguistics experts say English names, including unusual ones that would not be found in Western English-speaking countries, are becoming more prevalent, though they cannot pinpoint when the trend began.

“There are no signs of abating,” said David Li, a professor at the Hong Kong Institute of Education's department of linguistics and modern language studies. “There are more and more exotic or unusual names if one cares to collect and document them.”

The immigration department, the government body overseeing identification registration, does not compile statistics on categories of names, but a cursory inspection suggests the experts may be right…

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Scholars upset with Modern Chinese Dictionary for including English phrases

August 30, 2012 (VoANews)—A group of scholars in China is calling for the removal of English words from a respected Chinese dictionary, saying their presence is harming the purity of the Chinese language.

China’s Xinhua news agency says the scholars have signed a petition arguing that the latest edition of the Modern Chinese Dictionary violates Chinese law by including 239 English words and acronyms.

Fu Zhenguo, a journalist who signed the petition, told Xinhua that if Chinese people continue to use English abbreviations such as “ATM” or “GDP,” they will eventually be speaking “a bizarre mixture of Chinese and English,” known by some as “Chinglish.”

The editor of the dictionary, Jiang Lansheng, tells the Shanghai Daily she does not want to replace Chinese words, but is only trying to make it easier for people to understand English phrases that are already commonly used in China.

It is not the first time that the dictionary has included English phrases. In its previous edition, the Modern Chinese Dictionary defined more than 120 English words. An earlier edition published in 1996 reportedly contained just 39 such terms.

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English standards in UK universities being set below recommended levels
By David Matthews,

LONDON, August 23, 2012—Nearly two in three UK universities are setting English language requirements below the recommended level for undergraduate students from outside the European Union, according to aTimes Higher Education survey.

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS), which is one of the most commonly used tests and is partly owned by the British Council, recommends that a score of at least 6.5 is needed for any degree course.

Yet 58 of the 88 universities that responded to a THE Freedom of Information request say that their “standard minimum” requirement for undergraduates is 6.0, which IELTS says is “probably acceptable” for students on “linguistically demanding” training courses such as air traffic control, but not academic programmes.

The University of West London, Queen Margaret University and Glyndwr University have minimum entry requirements of 5.5, which IELTS says is “probably acceptable” for “less linguistically demanding training courses” in subjects such as animal husbandry and fire services.

Standards are higher for postgraduates, with no university accepting a score of 5.5, but 39 respondents say their minimum is 6.0.

However, many institutions point out that for some linguistically demanding subjects such as law or journalism, the entry requirements are higher at the undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Geoffrey Alderman, professor of history and politics at the University of Buckingham and a critic of standards in UK universities, said he thought that some institutions were setting English requirements “deliberately low in order not to discourage students.”

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