Jose Carillo's Forum


Asians outperform white students because they try harder, study finds

WASHINGTON, May 6, 2014 (Agence France-Presse)—Asian-American schoolchildren tend to outperform their white counterparts in school because they try harder, according to a US study out Monday.

The findings were based on an analysis of records from two separate surveys tracking several thousand whites and Asians in the United States from kindergarten through high school.

Scientists at Queens College of New York, the University of Michigan and Peking University in Beijing looked at grades, test scores, teacher ratings, family income and education level, immigration status and other factors.

“Asian-Americans enter school with no discernible academic advantage over whites,” said the study, noting that “advantage grows over time.”

By fifth grade, or age 10-11, Asian-Americans “significantly outperform whites,” and the peak difference is reached by grade 10, or age 15-16.

“Overall, these results suggest that the growing achievement gap can be attributed to a widening gap in academic effort rather than to differences in cognitive ability.”

Asian-Americans tend to be motivated by cultural teachings that instill the notion that effort is more important than inborn ability, researchers said.

Full story...

English use “most significant higher education internationalization trend”
By Chris Parr,

April 30, 2014—The use of English as the language of instruction is a “galloping phenomenon” across the world, according to a report.

According to the interim findings of a report by the British Council and University of Oxford’s department of education, English is increasingly becoming the lingua franca for education institutions across the world – from primary schools to universities.

University administrators tend to regard English as a Medium of Instruction, or EMI, as a facilitator to attracting financially lucrative international students and as a way to improve their institution’s position in global university rankings, the report says. Lecturers, meanwhile, are more idealistic, saying it could improve the exchange of ideas and promote better relations between countries.

Although institutions believe they can improve both financially and academically as a result of EMI, the report also finds that examinations and assessment are a “problematic area.”

“Lectures were sometimes in English while exams were in [the mother tongue] due to university policy, student pressure or the law,” the report says, adding: “Do teachers have a sufficiently high level of English to write and mark exams? What is being assessed: the English or the subject content?”

There was also concern about the impact of teaching in English on the home language and culture, and fears that it could foster inequality between those students who could speak English, who are often from wealthier backgrounds, and those who could not.

Full story...

Stop the presses: Is the dictionary dead?
By Alphonso Van Marsh, CBS News

OXFORD, England, April 30, 2014—Oxford English Dictionary Senior Editor Fiona McPherson has one of the toughest jobs in the English language. She’s part of a team of linguists, literature experts, pronunciation scholars and other “dictionary detectives” trying to get a grasp on an ever-expanding language - and fit all those words into a series of books, or dictionaries.

“We’re adding new words all the time. In the space of time that I’m talking to you, I dread to think of how many new words have been coined,” says McPherson.

But the future of the more than 130-year old Oxford English Dictionary (OED) may be headed further toward cyberspace. The dictionary detectives working on the dictionary’s latest edition are playing down speculation that the sheer number of English words put into use since the 20-volume, second edition was published in 1989 could make version 3.0 too big and too expensive to print. The next edition—expected to be at least twice the size of the last—may be released online only.

“We haven’t actually decided whether or not we are going to print, until we actually finish the [3rd edition] dictionary,” says McPherson, who in her 17 years working for the Oxford English Dictionary can credit the introduction of the words “jazz hands” into the publication.

Oxford University Press is quick to point out that the concise and compact versions of the Oxford English Dictionary, commonly on sale at bookstores, aren’t in danger of going out of print. OED editors say the decision whether to print the third edition of the complete OED—the multi-volume version more often used at libraries, universities and by scholars—is at least a decade away. Editors are say they’re only about a third done with the revisions.

In an age where many people turn to their desktop, laptop or mobile device to search for words and their definitions, the OED is learning to adapt to the Internet age. Since the year 2000, OED revisions have been released online only.

Full story...

Why some English words are controversial in China
By Yuwen Wu, BBC Chinese

April 30, 2014—Nowadays, if you eavesdrop on Chinese people’s phone conversations, it is commonplace to hear English phrases popping up here and there, like “Okay”, “Cool” and “Bye bye”.

In today’s Chinese publications, English abbreviations and acronyms also pop up frequently without any Chinese translations: GDP, WTO, Wifi, CEO, MBA, VIP, and the air pollutant term PM2.5 are among the most popular.

This phenomenon, termed “zero translation”, has sparked a fierce debate, with the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper People’s Daily the latest to join the fray.

“Why is zero translation so prevalent?” screams the headline in a recent commentary piece, citing as a bad example the text below, which considers the merits of an open source platform.


“Why do we have translations for Nokia and Motorola, but not for iPhone or iPad?” ask the authors.

What irritates them is the fact that these foreign terms are found not only in newspapers and online, but in serious science journals as well.

They claim that such practices damage the integrity and harmony of the Chinese language, dilute the richness of the Chinese culture and hamper comprehension. “How many people can understand these words?” they ask.

To put this in context - the Chinese language has over the years absorbed many foreign terms, especially English words. Early adoptions include 雷达 (leida) for “radar”, 坦克 (tanke) for “tank”, and 巧克力 (qiaokeli) for “chocolate”.

Full story...

15-year-olds in Asia are better problem solvers than in the U.S.
By Ivana Kottasova, CNN

April 1, 2014—Children in Asian countries are on average better problem solvers than their European and American peers, according to a new study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In 2012 the organization tested more than 85,000 15-year-olds in 44 countries and economies on their problem solving skills, testing their ability to explore limitations or obstacles and to understand information given to them.

While Singapore, Japan, China and Korea were among the top-performing economies, the United States scored just above the average and Russia and Israel lagged behind with lower-than-average scores.

Top 25 in problem solving:
1. Singapore
2. Korea
3. Japan
4. China*
5. Canada
6. Australia
7. Finland
8. United Kingdom
9. Estonia
10. France
11. Netherlands
12. Italy
13. Czech Republic
14. Germany
15. United States
16. Belgium
OECD Average
17. Austria
18. Norway
19. Ireland
20. Denmark
21. Portugal
22. Sweden
23. Russian Federation
24. Slovak Republic
25. Poland
*Combined results of Macao, HK, Shanghai, Chinese Taipei

Source: OECD Pisa 2012

The OECD says ability to crack complex problems is key to the economic success in the future.

"Today's 15-year-olds with poor problem-solving skills will become tomorrow's adults struggling to find or keep a good job," said Andreas Schleicher, acting director of education and skills at the OECD.

The problems in the test were designed to be similar to those faced by many workers in every day situations -- such as using an unfamiliar mobile phone or a ticket-vending machine.

Full story...

What big data can tell us about the relationships between world leaders
By Adam Taylor,

March 24, 2014—What can data reveal about international relations? That’s the question that the Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT) has sought to answer. By analyzing data from English-language news sources, they have compiled a huge database of people, organizations, locations, themes and events.

It’s an ambitious task. In the past, GDELT used their data to track violence in Afghanistan, map every protest since 1979, and chart the relationships between Iran’s leadership.

In a new project, GDELT researcher Kalev Leetaru has started making word clouds of world leaders, using GDELT data to show the top 100 names mentioned in articles about a specific world leader, and how often these names occurred. For example, the image at the top of the post shows the different names mentioned in articles relating to Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the president of Estonia, between April 1, 2013 and March 18, 2014. In that graph you can see that President Obama was the most mentioned in stories about Ilves, with Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of Lithuania, and Andris Berzins, President of Latvia, also mentioned frequently. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, famously involved in a Twitter spat with Ilves, also makes an appearance.

Obama, as you might expect, is mentioned frequently. Here's his own word cloud, which is perhaps most notable for not including as many international names as the others:

In an e-mail, Leetaru said that the only name that rivaled Obama's for dominance was that of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who appears in the top 100 names of world leaders 84 percent of the time, while Obama appears 96 percent of the time (though in the top 10 percent of names mentioned, Putin only appeared 42 percent of the time while Obama appeared 90 percent of the time).

Full story...

Quebec party promises to beef up charter to protect French from English

MONTREAL, March 28, 2014—The Quebec election campaign moved into a major Parti Quebecois comfort zone on Friday with Leader Pauline Marois vowing to bring in tougher measures to protect French.
Identity politics gave the PQ an edge in the 2012 campaign and language was to be one of its priorities in the campaign for the April 7 election, right behind the party's proposed secularism charter.

Both issues had to take a back seat to sovereignty only a few days after the election was called because of remarks by star candidate Pierre Karl Peladeau and Marois herself in favour of an independent Quebec.

The talk of another referendum—which is generally disliked by most Quebecers—derailed the PQ campaign and Marois has since been trying to get back on message.

The PQ got new wind in its sails Friday after Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard was pummelled during Thursday's televised debate and was accused of being soft on the protection of French.
Marois took full advantage during a news conference where she had already planned to discuss the PQ's plans on the matter.

“We think it’s important to adopt a new French Language Charter because I think in Montreal we have real problems on this issue,” Marois said, adding the Liberals are to blame for that.
“We want to live in French, to work in French. That is very important.”

Full story...

Student Achievement Test overhauled to align it better with schoolwork
By Tamar Lewin, The New York Times

NEW YORK, March 5, 2014—Saying its college admission exams do not focus enough on the important academic skills, the College Board announced on Wednesday a fundamental rethinking of the SAT, ending the longstanding penalty for guessing wrong, cutting obscure vocabulary words and making the essay optional.

The president of the College Board, David Coleman, criticized his own test, the SAT, and its main rival, the ACT, saying that both had “become disconnected from the work of our high schools.”

In addition, Mr. Coleman announced programs to help low-income students, who will now be given fee waivers allowing them to apply to four colleges at no charge. And even before the new exam is introduced, in the spring of 2016, the College Board, in partnership with Khan Academy, will offer free online practice problems and instructional videos showing how to solve them.

The changes are extensive: The SAT’s rarefied vocabulary challenges will be replaced by words that are common in college courses, like “empirical” and “synthesis.” The math questions, now scattered across many topics, will focus more narrowly on linear equations, functions and proportional thinking. The use of a calculator will no longer be allowed on some of the math sections.

Among other changes, the new test will not ask students to define arcane words, relying instead on vocabulary used in college courses.

The new exam will be available on paper and computer, and the scoring will revert to the old 1,600-point scale — from 2,400 — with top scores of 800 on math and 800 on what will now be called “evidence-based reading and writing.” The optional essay, which strong writers may choose to do, will have a separate score.

Full story...

Why the Student Achievement Test (SAT) underwent a major overhaul
By Todd Balf, The New York Times Magazine

NEW YORK, March 6, 2014—In July 2012, a few months before he was to officially take over as president of the College Board, David Coleman invited Les Perelman, then a director of writing at M.I.T., to come meet with him in Lower Manhattan. Of the many things the College Board does — take part in research, develop education policy, create curriculums — it is perhaps most recognized as the organization that administers the SAT, and Perelman was one of the exam’s harshest and most relentless critics. Since 2005, when the College Board added an essay to the SAT (raising the total possible score from 1,600 to 2,400), Perelman had been conducting research that highlighted what he believed were the inherent absurdities in how the essay questions were formulated and scored. His earliest findings showed that length, more than any other factor, correlated with a high score on the essay. More recently, Perelman coached 16 students who were retaking the test after having received mediocre scores on the essay section. He told them that details mattered but factual accuracy didn’t. “You can tell them the War of 1812 began in 1945,” he said. He encouraged them to sprinkle in little-used but fancy words like “plethora” or “myriad” and to use two or three preselected quotes from prominent figures like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, regardless of whether they were relevant to the question asked. Fifteen of his pupils scored higher than the 90th percentile on the essay when they retook the exam, he said…

Right around the time Coleman was appointed as the board’s next president, he read an article about Perelman’s research in The New York Times and decided to reach out to him. “Somebody takes a whack at the SAT, so what?” Coleman said when I met him in his office at the College Board headquarters near Lincoln Center last month. “They get some media coverage, it’s not that interesting. But this was a guy who devoted his lifetime to work you care about” — teaching students how to write — “and then looks at an instrument meant to celebrate writing and — “ Coleman’s words trailed off. “I wanted to go beyond the news presentation of his claim,” he finally added, “to the depth of his claim.”

Full story...

English media in Quebec request English-language leaders’ debate

QUEBEC, March 3, 2014—English media outlets in Quebec, including the CBC, are banding together to request an English-language leaders’ debate during the provincial election expected to be called Wednesday.

The CBC has formed a consortium — with CTV, Global, CJAD and the Gazette — and written to the leaders of the four main parties.

The request, sent Monday morning by email to the Coalition Avenir Qébec, the Parti Québécois, the Quebec Liberal Party and Québec Solidaire, was signed by CBC Quebec news director Mary-Jo Barr, CTV Montreal news director Jed Kahane, Global Quebec news director Karen MacDonald, CJAD program and news director Chris Bury and the Gazette Editorial page editor David Johnston.

The group is asking for a 90-minute debate in English, to be broadcast live on television, radio and online in the last two weeks of the campaign.

“We think it’s really important that English-speaking Quebecers get an opportunity to hear directly from the candidates in their language,” said Mary-Jo Barr, news director for CBC Quebec.

There have been a handful of English-language leaders’ debates in the past, but not for decades.

During the last provincial campaign, then Liberal leader Jean Charest and Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault agreed to an English debate, but Pauline Marois refused.

She said at the time she felt her English wasn’t strong enough.

Full story...

Possible PQ majority has Quebec anglos on edge

MONTREAL, February 28, 2014—As the Parti Quebecois stands poised to win a majority government, English-speaking Quebecers are once again nervous.

News about bureaucrats ordered to halt English correspondence with merchants, and language cops policing Facebook, has also stoked anglo angst in La Belle Province.

Polls indicate the PQ could win its first majority government in 16 years, a victory that would allow separatists to revive their proposed beefed-up language law.

Language Minister Diane De Courcy says laws do a better job than goodwill in promoting French in Quebec.

“We fell asleep on the issue,” the minister told a recent conference about French in the workplace.

“Businesses do a lot, but is it enough? It takes legislative and regulatory frameworks combined with goodwill.”

The PQ's proposed secularism charter, with its ban on religious symbols in the public service, has also alienated anglos as well as ethnic Quebecers.

Premier Pauline Marois is also pledging to start a new round of consultations on sovereignty, prompting many English speakers to ponder moving plans.

“I think it is fair to say that (a PQ win) is felt as more of a threat to anybody in a minority situation in Quebec, be it linguistic, cultural or religious,” said Sylvia Martin-Laforge, whose Quebec Community Groups Network represents 41 English organizations.

Full story...

A good English teacher will boost students’ math scores, Stanford study shows
By Subodh Varma, Times of India

NEW DELHI, February 26, 2014—If you have a great English teacher in school, chances are your math scores will get boosted. This is the startling finding of research done by Stanford University scholars. They examined the performances of 700,000 students in New York City from third through eighth grade during 2003 to 2010.

The researchers found that students of good language arts teachers had higher than expected math scores in subsequent years - a crossover effect. On the other hand, good math teachers had only small long-term effects on English scores.

While noting this relationship, the study is not conclusive about exactly why good English teaching matters so much in other subjects. The report points out other subjects require some amount of reading and writing - in other words, one must read and understand word problems to do well in math.

The mother tongue of the students covered under the study was presumably English, or at least for the majority of them. The medium of instruction was also English. In countries like India, where other languages are used by a majority of students both at home and at school, the effect of increasing language proficiency may become visible with their own language rather than English.

"What surprised us was how clear the distinction was between math and English language arts, with math teachers teaching almost exclusively subject-specific skills and English teachers teaching skills that affect students' later outcomes across other subjects," Susanna Loeb, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education, told Stanford News.

Full story...

Are “English only” science reports locking out the developing world?
By Bothina Osama, Sci Dev Net – WNN Science & Health

CAIRO, February 27, 2014—English is the language of science. Most international science journals are English, most scientific conferences adopt it and new scientific terms are almost always English.

Yet in many parts of the developing world few speak English. Often countries have multiple local languages; for example, South Africa has 11 official languages including English, and India 18. The challenges are global — any journalist writing in a language other than English has to cope with much of their source information being in English.

But the problem is more complex if your language is poorly acquainted with the fast-developing world of science. French, German and Spanish have large, established scientific communities that have translated even the most technical terms. This is unlikely for a regional Indian language, for example. But despite its difficulties, localizing science by reporting in native languages — in print, radio or television — is crucial to get information about science to wider audiences, allowing communities to learn about scientific developments in a meaningful way.

This guide provides tips on how to report science in local languages, from getting translations right to developing relationships with the experts who can help you. While aimed at print journalists, the guide is relevant whether you are working in print, online or broadcast media.

Tricky translations

Making sure you translate scientific terms and ideas as accurately as possible is perhaps the most important and difficult part of reporting science in another language. Badly translated science leads to inaccurate and sometimes misleading stories. Even a small mistake can shake readers’ trust in the whole story and discourage them from seeking local science coverage in future…

Full story...

UK says English test ban will not affect Chinese students

HONG KONG, February 24, 2014—British authorities’ decision to suspend English language proficiency tests organized by the US-based Educational Testing Service (ETS) over alleged fraud has raised doubts among many Chinese students hoping to study in Britain.

Since the British government’s move was announced earlier this month, reports suggested that many Chinese students were reconsidering Britain as a study destination.

Britain has long been one of the most popular countries for Chinese students—traditionally from Hong Kong but today also from the mainland. In 2011-2012 they numbered 83,000, the largest group of foreign students in Britain, according to the Institute of International Education.

Online chat about the incident was heavy at, China's version of Twitter. “Maybe it’s better to study in America,” one internet user wrote, speculating that organisers for the main rival English test might raise their fees in response.

The suspended ETS examinations are the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

According to ETS, TOEIC is a test of everyday English skills of people working in an international environment. Its scores are used by corporations and government agencies in 120 countries, and its main rival test is the Cambridge-designed International English Language Testing System (IELTS). TOEFL is the main English skills test for foreign students applying to universities in the United States.

Full story...

More and more companies worldwide adopting English as official language

February 15, 2014 (—Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo’s boss, hardly spoke a word of English until he was about 40: he grew up in rural poverty and read engineering at university. But when Lenovo bought IBM’s personal-computer division in 2005 he decided to immerse himself in English: he moved his family to North Carolina, hired a language tutor and—the ultimate sacrifice—spent hours watching cable-TV news. This week he was in São Paulo, Brazil, for a board meeting and an earnings call: he conducted all his business in English except for a briefing for the Chinese press.

Lenovo is one of a growing number of multinationals from the non-Anglophone world that have made English their official language. The fashion began in places with small populations but global ambitions such as Singapore (which retained English as its lingua franca when it left the British empire in 1963), the Nordic countries and Switzerland. Goran Lindahl, a former boss of ABB, a Swiss-Swedish engineering giant, once described its official language as “poor English”. The practice spread to the big European countries: numerous German and French multinationals now use English in board meetings and official documents.

Audi may use a German phrase—Vorsprung durch Technik, or progress through engineering—in its advertisements, but it is impossible to progress through its management ranks without good English. When Christoph Franz became boss of Lufthansa in 2011 he made English its official language even though all but a handful of the airline’s 50 most senior managers were German.

The Académie française may be prickly about the advance of English. But there is no real alternative as a global business language. The most plausible contender, Mandarin Chinese, is one of the world’s most difficult to master, and least computer-friendly. It is not even universal in China: more than 400m people there do not speak it.

Full story...

Pronunciation matters: How should Canadian athletes’ names be pronounced?
By Amanda Kelly, Global News

MONTREAL, February 11, 2014—A Sun News Network television personality has publicly apologized after criticizing the way CBC anchors pronounced the names of French-Canadian Olympic athletes in English.

Brian Lilley made his comments as the host of the program Byline, which runs on Sun News, an English-language television network owned and operated by Quebecor Media.

“Why am I showing you CBC and their coverage of the Olympics?” Brian Lilley asked.

“Why? Because of the ridiculous pronunciation of the names involved.”

While Lilley acknowledged that the athletes’ names were French, he suggested that because they were used in an English context, they should be pronounced with “a certain English pronunciation.”

“If you listen to CBC, you wouldn’t even know that Charles Ham-a-lin had won a gold because he’s Sharle Am-e-leh, oui,” he said.

“Broadcasters in this country think that they have to go all native and speak a foreign language just because they’re pronouncing somebody’s name.”

Lilley then turned to Harley Sims, a linguistics “specialist” in Nova Scotia, for some guidance.

“It was irritating because this is not how people speak,” Sims said.

“We have a phenology [sic] in English, the way we pronounce words, and this is not how they talk.”

Sims went on to suggest what he considered the motivation behind pronouncing Quebec athletes names as they are pronounced in French.

Full story...

Workforce “digital chatter” puts international businesses at risk

February 11, 2014 (Gnomes National News Service)—With company brands now being defined by employee “digital chatter,” a new report finds only 37% of today’s workforce is appropriately skilled.

84% of respondents feel social media has changed the nature of communications
83% see social media increasing in importance in the next three years

However, only 37% of the current workforce has the language and social media skills needed for the digital age.

Although four fifths (84%) of business professionals think social media has changed the nature of communications, only a third (37%) of today’s workforce have the English language skills required to communicate effectively through digital channels, according to a report published today by leading academic Professor Michael Hulme and Education First Corporate Language Learning Solutions (EF CLLS).

Leading the way in providing a positive digital communications experience are a young, motivated demographic – the “Linguarati.”  These employees have the level of English language proficiency and digital know-how to communicate effectively on social media and are eager to improve their skills.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Andy Bailey, CMO of EF CLLS, said: “Social media has radically changed the way that customers interact with brands, and businesses need to ensure they have the caliber of workforce to respond to that change.“

Professor Hulme added “businesses should train the many, not the few.  If you train only the Linguarati you will have areas of weakness. Failing to take advantage of many employees‘ appetite to improve their language skills could affect the international competitiveness and global brand of your business.“

Full story...

Many European languages under threat from the digital dominance of English

January 26, 2014 (Voice of Russia)—Many languages—many of them European—are losing out to the dominance of English, even when it comes to amassing written archives on the Internet. A forum is taking place at Cardiff University today to look at how technology and linguistics can come to the rescue of minority languages.

Voice of Russia’s Tim Ecott spoke to Dr Jeremy Eavis, Professor of Linguistics at Cardiff University.

Dr Jeremy Eavis told VoR:

“Of 7,000 languages in the world, on average, academic studies put around 90% of them in danger of extinction. Technology is one of a patchwork of things that can be used to revitalise languages. Most of us sit in front of a computer screen all day.

"Many of us sit in front of an English language one, wherever we are in the world and that software is very easily manipulable and can be translated into many different languages.

“My own machine in front of me now is in Welsh and that's thanks to a Microsoft programme. So that's the simplest aspect of it.

“We’ve got technology for translation. Now in Wales, much of the Welsh language we see in the linguistic landscape around us has been translated from English into Welsh. Technology can actually increase the throughput [and] increase translators' productivity. So we’ve all heard of Google Translate, which is quite a useful tool in the hands of a qualified human translator.

“And there are many other translation technology tools available as well. So it’s all about increasing the presence of these languages in the digital landscape and, who knows, in 50 years’ time English might be under threat from Chinese or another language,” he said.

Asked whether it was possible to use multilingual computer keyboards, he said:

“All those problems have been solved. We have diacritic marks—accent marks—on vowels, like in French and we have them in Spanish as well. But we have them on W and Y, and that used to pose a problem, but Apple and Microsoft have included that in their keyboard schemers, so it’s no longer a problem.”

Full story...

Asia, led by China, sweeps top spots in global education survey

PARIS, December 4, 2013 (AP)—Asian nations cemented their top positions in an eagerly awaited report on global education Tuesday, as their students continued to outshine Western counterparts in math, science and reading.

Shanghai again ranked first in math, science and reading in the three-yearly report by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), based on surveys of more than half a million 15-year-olds in 65 countries.

Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea rounded out the top five in math skills.
The so-called PISA report (Program for International Student Assessment) is the single largest study of global schooling and has been dubbed the World Cup of education.

It is highly influential among education officials, with participating countries representing more than 80 percent of the global economy and often adapting policy in response to the findings.
Shanghai’s top rankings means its students are the equivalent of three years of schooling ahead of their counterparts with average scores, including those of many wealthy Western countries such as Britain and France.

This year’s survey focused on math skills, with Macau, Japan, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the Netherlands rounding out the top 10.

Lacking a truly national sample in China, the report only includes some of the country’s most economically advanced regions, which the OECD acknowledges are not representative of the entire country.

Full story...

Nobel laureates call to inspire young people for new ideas

STOCKHOLM, December 8, 2013 (Xinhua) - Nobel chemistry prize winners Michael Levitt and Martin Karplus on Saturday called for “more attention and efforts” to young people to help foster new ideas.

“More attention and efforts should be given to young people, and make sure that the next great ideas come from people who are in their 20's, and not professors in their 60s,” said Levitt in a press conference in the middle of the ongoing Nobel Week.

He was echoed by Karplus, who added that it was the teachers’ and professors’ responsibility to help foster new ideas out of young people.

“We should make sure that when the young has original ideas, they have a chance to express themselves out,” said Karplus.

Meanwhile, Levitt also highlighted the importance of communicating with young people using new media.

“It’s an impressive TV program that prompted me to science. TV was quite new to me then. So I think in order to inspire young people, we should be talking in their languages such as Twitter, Facebook, “ said Levitt.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences decided to award the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Arieh Warshel, Martin Karplus and Michael Levitt, for their joint “development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.”

Full story...

Honda adopts English as official language in global meetings

LOS ANGELES, November 27, 2013—Honda Motor Co. (7267) made English the official language of global meetings as the Japanese carmaker shifts decision-making power to regional units.

Chief Executive Officer Takanobu Ito informed global employees of the change in April, John Mendel, executive vice president of the Tokyo-based company’s U.S. sales unit, said in an interview at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Mendel was promoted to Honda’s North American management committee in 2012, in an earlier move by Ito to localize business decisions.

The carmaker’s move follows language conversions by Japanese companies such as Fast Retailing Co. (9983), Asia’s biggest apparel seller, and Rakuten Inc. (4755), the country’s largest Internet mall. Honda’s new rule applies to in-person meetings and video conferences, raising the chances top executives will use interpreters, as Fast Retailing President Tadashi Yanai and Ito himself have done in news media interviews.

“Imagine the shock sent through the operation,” Mendel said in an interview yesterday. “The CEO stands up and says, ‘All discussions about global operations will be conducted in English and oh, by the way, if you don’t understand it, get an interpreter.’”

Rakuten announced its shift to English as the company’s official language in 2010 and phased in the language’s use over two years. The online retailer’s billionaire President Hiroshi Mikitani, Japan’s third-richest person, earned an MBA at Harvard Business School in 1993.

Full story...

Bahrain calls for adding Arabic to official languages used by WTO

MANAMA, Bahrain, December 2, 2013—A Bahraini parliamentary delegation has called for adding Arabic to the three official languages used by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

MP Abdul Halim Murad, from the lower chamber of the bicameral parliament, and Ahmad Ebrahim Bahzad, from the upper chamber, made the request at the Parliamentary Conference of the global world body in the Indonesian capital Bali on Monday, Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported.

English, French and Spanish are the languages that WTO uses for translations and interpretations and for official documents.

The request for the adoption of Arabic was reportedly supported by Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Morocco.

Arabic, spoken in more than 20 countries, is one of the six official languages used at the United Nations. Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish are the other languages.

The six languages are used at meetings of various UN organs, particularly the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and the Security Council.

Full story...

United Arab Emirates makes notable improvement in English proficiency
By Sara Sabry, Gulf News

ABU DHABI, November 9, 2013—The UAE has made significant strides in improving proficiency in English among adults, but the level of teaching English in the country is still low internationally, according to new data released by a global language training company.

According to Education First (EF), educational institutions, companies and individuals are increasingly embracing English language learning; however, many countries are failing to measure the results of their efforts.

“Although the Middle East and North Africa are the regions that are weakest in English teaching, the UAE has improved significantly this year as an exception to the region’s lackluster performance,” the EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI), announced in the study.

EF EPI is a report that attempts to rank countries by the average level of English skills among adults. It draws its conclusions from data collected via online English tests available for free over the internet.

The UAE has succeeded in developing knowledge economies before its oil production peaks and made vital progress in its ability in English. The UAE is now ranked number one regionally and 36th internationally in English proficiency among 60 countries, EF EPI confirmed.

Full story...

Dictionary of American Regional English is getting updated
By Patty Murray,

WISCONSIN, November 6, 2013—The Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) is getting updated, and University of Wisconsin researchers are curious about how the language has changed since data was first collected.

DARE was only recently finished – the words were collected in from 1,000 communities around the country back in the late 1960s.The project began in Wisconsin a few years earlier. Now, a new online pilot project will update the work.

“We've just launched it in Madison and Algoma, one of our small communities and a large community, to test it out and see if it works,” says Joan Houston Hall, DARE’s chief editor.

Algoma was one of 22 communities that were visited in the ’60s and will be studied again. Madison is one of 30 “official” places that were added.

Houston Hall says some people think the English language has become homogenized as the nation has become more mobile. “I'm skeptical of that,” she says. “It seems to me that what we find is that language does change, of course, but it doesn't change at the same rates or in the same ways in all places.”

Houston Hall says some obsolete terms from the original survey have been tossed out. New respondents will be asked about things that didn't exist 40 or 50 years ago. “We’ll ask, ‘What do you call the device you use to change the channel on a TV?’ or, ‘What do you call the cardboard thing you put around a cup of coffee so you don't burn your hand?’”

Full story...

Listen! Beowulf opening line misinterpreted for 200 years
By Jonathan Brown, The Independent UK
November 5, 2013—It is perhaps the most important word in one of the greatest and most famous sentences in the history of the English language.

Yet for more than two centuries “hwæt” has been misrepresented as an attention-grabbing latter-day “yo!” designed to capture the interest of its intended Anglo-Saxon audience urging them to sit down and listen up to the exploits of the heroic monster-slayer Beowulf.

According to an academic at the University of Manchester, however, the accepted definition of the opening line of the epic poem – including the most recent translation by the late Seamus Heaney - has been subtly wide of the mark.

In a new paper, Dr George Walkden argues that the use of the interrogative pronoun  “hwæt” (rhymes with cat) means the first line is not a standalone command but informs the wider exclamatory nature of the sentence which was written by an unknown poet between 1,200 and 1,300 years ago.

According to the historical linguist, rather than reading: “Listen! We have heard of the might of the kings” the Old English of “Hwæt! We Gar-Dena in gear-dagum, þeod-cyninga,  þrym gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas  ellen fremedon!” should instead be understood as: “How we have heard of the might of the kings.”

Dr Walkden said his conclusion – based on the positioning of the word relative to the verb within 141 other clauses studied – would put him at odds with the conventional wisdom on the subject.

Full story...

Language watchdog warns rites may cause “ugly” linguistic wars
By Mike de Souza, Postmedia News

OTTAWA, November 7, 2013—Parliament’s language watchdog is concerned that the Harper government’s plans to celebrate upcoming anniversaries of Confederation and military events from the two world wars may spark some “ugly” linguistic wars.

In his latest annual report to Parliament, Graham Fraser, the commissioner of official languages, said the anniversaries should serve as an opportunity for public education, while recognizing conflicting narratives in Canadian history.

“Events like the First World War stimulate different recollections, with memories of heroic sacrifice co-existing uneasily with stories of conscription, anti-French-Canadian insults and soldiers shooting on anti-conscription rioters in Quebec City,” Fraser wrote in the report, tabled on Thursday.

He also noted that the Second World War is remembered in different ways along linguistic lines, with about 80 per cent of Quebecers opposed to conscription and 80 per cent of Canadians in the rest of the country in favour.

“Thus, it is critical that these anniversaries become as much a time for reflection as for celebration, and for recognition that the events being remembered were often the source of bitter, divisive, even sometimes violent disagreement and debate at the time.”

“Any attempt to treat them as moments of uncomplicated flag-waving unity will be unconstructive at best and, at worst, inflame ugly linguistic emotions.”

Full story...

India outsourcing more call-center operations to the Philippines

BANGKOK, October 28, 2013 (Bangkok Post)—India was widely regarded as the global IT-BPO leader for many years but the Philippines took over the crown in the call-centre segment from India in 2011.

Some Indian companies have now expanded to the Philippines to take advantage of a large talent pool and low costs.

Avantika Desai, senior manager for corporate relations and strategic programmes with Aegis, said the company’s profit margin from the Philippine operation was as high as 40-50%. The Indian operation does not have such a high margin because most of the clients are local companies, while the clients of the Philippine unit are Fortune 500 companies.

Aegis expanded to the Philippines in 2008 through the acquisition of People Support. It was looking for new human resources for its voice services, and the Philippines was able to provide a pool of workers with good spoken English skills. It benefited initially from tax exemptions and reduced costs, but competition in the BPO industry has pushed up salaries and the government has increased the minimum wage, so cost savings are no longer as great.

“In India, the wage cost is now lower than in the Philippines, but we have to pay higher costs for taxes. In the Philippines, we pay less tax, but the wage cost is increasing,” said Ms Desai.

However, Aegis is still happy with the operation in the Philippines because it has the opportunity to serve international clients that pay more for its services, she added.

Asheesh Mehra, head of BPO for Asia Pacific, Japan and the Middle East with Infosys, said that the primary reason for doing business in the Philippines was the demand of customers who are looking for English-language support for voice-based service.

Full story...

China introduces education reforms de-emphasizing English

BEIJING, October 24, 2013—The Beijing Municipal Education Commission proposed education reforms that will de-emphasize English language curriculum in the gaokao, China’s national higher education examinations. The proposition aims to relieve pressure on China’s students to master the language and counteracts fears of the English language eventually overtaking Mandarin. The decision was met with conflictual opinions from China’s students, parents, and educators.

Beginning in 2016, Beijing’s English language higher education entrance exams will be reduced from 150 to 100 points while the number of points given to Chinese and mathematics will be increased; English, Chinese, and mathematics currently have the same weighting. An additional recommendation suggests completely removing English language classes from the country’s curriculum before grade three.

According to the Beijing Education Examinations Authority, the adjustments will “focus on English-language application and basic skills, while playing down its selection function.” Li Yi of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education said, “the change highlights the fundamental importance of [the] mother tongue in the curriculum.”

Sang Jinlong, deputy head of Beijing Academy of Educational Sciences explained, “the general public is dissatisfied with a school system that gives emphasis to English over Chinese.”

In contrast, a Chinese citizen reportedly called the proposal a “setback of history” and “complacent and conservative,” and urged citizens to give greater importance to the English language because it “empowers people to communicate with the world by themselves.”

Full story...

Research shows the English of the Italians, Germans, and French isn’t so great

THE NETHERLANDS, September 26, 2013—Italians, Germans and the French are the most insecure in Europe about their levels of English, with Swedes among the most confident, data showed Thursday.

In celebration of European Language Day, the Eurostat statistics agency said 66 percent of working age adults claim to know at least one foreign language, with English overwhelmingly the most popular except in the Baltic states, Luxembourg and Slovakia.

But asked if their level of English was “proficient,” “good,” or just “fair,” 64 percent of Italians said only fair, followed by 50 percent in Germany and 49 percent in France.

In Malta, Britain's one-time Mediterranean outpost, 53 percent of respondents judged themselves proficient in English followed by Sweden at 43 percent and Denmark at 36 percent.

The data showed a whopping 94 percent of upper secondary school students in the European Union choosing English as their second language, with French a distant second at 23 percent, and German at 21 percent.

Full story...

Ancient 4,000-year-old forerunner of English to be recorded soon

LOS ANGELES, California (September 30, 2013)—The Proto-Indo-European, or PIE language, was spoken throughout Europe and Asia about 4,000 years ago and formed the basis of the English language. The sound of this archaic tongue is set to be recorded for the very first time using ancient texts, thanks to modern day linguists.

There is no written record of the PIE language, but after decades of research, Dr. Andrew Byrd, a linguistics expert from the University of Kentucky, will read the parable of the sheep and the horses in the long-disused tongue.

Dr. Byrd was able to recreate an approximate version based on knowledge of ancient texts in Indo-European languages, such as Latin, Greek and Sanskrit. PIE was last spoken between approximately 4,500 and 2,500 B.C by our ancestors from all over Europe and Asia.

Written in 1868 by German linguist Dr. August Schleicher, the parable itself was translated into PIE as a way to experiment with the vocabulary. Byrd notes that there is no way to create a definitive version of the language and Byrd says his pronunciation is “a very educated approximation.

“Languages differ on how they pattern their sounds together, and they use those sounds to create new words. Proto-Indo-European is very guttural,” Byrd told journalists.

Full story...

China says 400 million can’t speak Mandarin as national language

BEIJING, September 5, 2013 (Reuters)—More than 400 million Chinese are unable to speak the national language Mandarin, and large numbers in the rest of the country speak it badly, state media said on Thursday as the government launched another push for linguistic unity.

China’s ruling Communist Party has promoted Mandarin for decades to unite a nation with thousands of often mutually unintelligible dialects and numerous minority languages, but has been hampered by the country’s size and lack of investment in education, especially in poor rural areas.

Officials have admitted they will probably never get the whole country to be able to speak Mandarin, formally called Putonghua in China, meaning “common tongue,” suggesting everyone should be able to speak it.

Ministry of Education spokeswoman Xu Mei said that only 70 percent of the country could speak Mandarin, many of them poorly, and the remaining 30 percent or 400 million people could not speak it at all, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The country still needs to invest in promoting Mandarin,” it quoted her as saying, ahead of an annual campaign to promote Mandarin held every year since 1998.

“This year the ministry will focus on the remote countryside and areas inhabited by ethnic minorities,” Xu said.

Full story...

Montreal holds rally to show concern over erosion in use of French language

MONTREAL, September 19, 2013–A protest to shine a light on the importance of French in Montreal took place on Wednesday night.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Place des Festivals, with many holding lamps. They grouped together to create an enormous glowing “101″ and “MTL 101.”

The idea behind the rally is to “highlight the fact that Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world.”

Billed as the “101 in Lights,” the rally was organized by Partenaires pour un Québec français (“Partners for a French Quebec”), which is made up of groups like the Société St-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal and the Mouvement national des Québécois, as well as several trade unions whose members care about the importance of French in the city.

The event took place as another group called for Montreal to have special status as a “city-state.”

Under Quebec’s Charter of the French Language, also known as Bill 101, all businesses in the province are required to have a French-language name and signage.

But many concerned about language erosion are frustrated with the refusal of some businesses to translate their names.

Full story...

Oxford Dictionary recognizes “to twerk” after Miley Cyrus offers visual definition
By Dave Itzkoff, The New York Times

August 28, 2013—In the days following Miley Cyrus’s much-discussed bump-and-grind performance at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards, the word “twerk” — that is, to dance “in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance” — seems to be ubiquitous. It’s on the tip of the tongue of nearly every television host, and a search of LexisNexis archives turns up the word in more than 250 news articles in the last week alone.

“Won’t twerking just go away?” the linguistically aggrieved ask. Well, no — and, in fact, the word is getting some acknowledgment from one of the English language’s most august reference volumes.

Oxford Dictionaries, which is responsible for the Oxford English Dictionary and other reference works, said that it would add “twerk” to its listings as part of a quarterly online update, The Associated Press reported. A definition for “twerk” can be found at (where helpful examples of the word’s use include “just wait till they catch their daughters twerking to this song”).

Though the word “twerk” may seem all too of the moment, Katherine Connor Martin, an editor at the Oxford Dictionaries site, told The A.P. that this verb was probably about two decades old.

“There are many theories about the origin of this word, and since it arose in oral use, we may never know the answer for sure,” Ms. Martin said. “We think the most likely theory is that it is an alteration of work, because that word has a history of being used in similar ways, with dancers being encouraged to ‘work it.’ The ‘t’ could be a result of blending with another word such as twist or twitch.”

Full story...

Woman says Richmond McDonald’s asked her to leave due to inadequate English

METRO VANCOUVER, Canada, August 23, 2013—People have the right to be served, no matter what their first language is. That’s the view of the son of Hai Xia Sun, who claims she was asked to leave McDonald's on No.3 Road and Granville Avenue last week after what the global restaurant chain is referring to as a “language barrier.”

The problem began when, after ordering a hot chocolate, Sun, 51, who’s lived in Canada for ten years, received a coffee instead.

And when she tried to have the mistake corrected, she claims she was dismissed by the manager on duty, who allegedly refused to serve Sun because staff couldn’t understand her English.

The only problem her son, Frank Zhao, has with that explanation is that he says his mother was speaking English and has never encountered an issue in ten years in the country.

“I think the point here is that people should get served no matter what their first language is,” Zhao told the News.

"My mom was speaking English, but what about tourists coming here who don't speak English? Are they going to get refused service as well?"

Zhao said his mom, who has to speak English first in her job in a local hotel, came to Canada because of the respect the country has for different cultures.

Full story...

Irate grammarians slam Google’s definition of the word “literally”
By Jaclyn Skurie, National Geographic News

August 16, 2013—The Internet is abuzz with irate grammarians criticizing the way Google defines the word “literally.”

In addition to the word’s original meaning—“in a literal manner or sense”—the Google definition also reads “used to acknowledge that something is not literally true but is used for emphasis or to express strong feeling.” The key words here: used to.

Bloggers are declaring it the end of the English language and a dark day for linguists. How can the definition of the word “literally” literally not be literal?

An employee at Words Worth Books, an Ontario bookstore, wrote on Twitter that “one of our staff was so upset about this, he had to go lie down. #literally.” “We did it guys! We killed English!” tweeted someone with the handle @magnus72.

But these quibblers are wrong. The un-literal definition of “literally” is not new. It has been used for at least 200 years, and we have the proof. Literally.

In 1769’s The History of Emily Montague, novelist Frances Brooke wrote, “He is a fortunate man to be introduced to such a party of fine women at his arrival; it is literally to feed among the lilies.” Was this lucky man of mystery literally eating lilies? No. He was simply surrounded by a selection of attractive women—figurative lilies.

The Oxford English Dictionary has also listed this secondary definition of the controversial term since 1903.

Full story...

Is the Oxford English Dictionary really redefining “marriage”?
By J. Bryan Lowder,

July 29, 2013—Following on an initial story last week from LGBT news site Gay Star News, news outlets across the Internet reported on Friday that the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary—the publication widely recognized as the premiere authority on the English language—are considering revising the definition of “marriage” to include same-sex unions. The change was attributed to recent decisions in favor of marriage equality in the U.K. and elsewhere and touted as a victory for the LGBT movement.

Though such a development would not be unwelcome, we had a sneaking suspicion while sorting through the coverage that this story might be a bit overblown. Here’s the original quote, from an OED spokeswoman, that caused all the hoopla: “We continually monitor the words in our dictionaries, paying particular [attention] to those words whose usage is shifting, so yes, this will happen with marriage.” By our reading, this statement simply confirms that the OED will consider revising the definition of marriage in the same way that it does for any word whose usage is changing—not that any new definition is definitely forthcoming. And indeed, the Director of U.S. Publicity for the Oxford University Press confirmed our interpretation today in an official statement:

Many of our dictionaries including the Oxford English Dictionary, as well as, already include references to same sex-marriage as part of their definitions. Dictionaries reflect changes in the use of language, rather than changes in law, and we are constantly monitoring usage in this area in order to consider what revisions and updates we may need to make. The English language is always developing and, along with many other words, we will continue to monitor the way in which ‘marriage’ is used.

Full story...

Facebook launches Graph Search to all English-speaking users
By Zach Miners, IDG News Service

August 7, 2013—Facebook is rolling out Graph Search, its newfangled social search engine, to everyone who uses the U.S. English language, the company announced Wednesday.

Graph Search provides a way for users to search for various topics and interests across the site based on their existing connections and friends. Graph Search lets users submit their queries in plain English, so people can search for things like, “Friends who live in my city,” or “Hotels in San Francisco visited by my friends,” or even, “Music liked by people who like the music that I like,” Facebook notes.

The company began rolling out the tool to a limited number of people in January. At an introductory press conference at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, CEO Mark Zuckerberg described Graph Search as an early stage feature that is still years away from being complete.

“Graph Search is a really big project, and it's going to take years and years to index the whole map of the graph,” he said at the time.

Following Wednesday's expansion, people can continue to search for friends and Pages by name, Facebook said, or use simple phrases to find something specific across people, photos, places, interests and more.

Since its unveiling, Facebook has had to address tough questions over Graph Search's privacy implications. One major issue is the extent to which the tool makes it easier for people to unearth content or information about others who do not want that content to be seen.

Full story...

Rude English word enters German language

July 2, 2013—Germany’s standard dictionary has included a vulgar English term, used by Chancellor Angela Merkel among others, as an acceptable German word.

“Duden,” the equivalent of the Oxford English Dictionary in the UK, said it was reflecting the common use of the word “shitstorm” among Germans.

The word, which is used in German to denote a public outcry, seems to have caught on during the eurozone crisis.

German language experts voted it “Anglicism of the year” in 2012.

One of them, Michael Mann, explained in a report by the Local newspaper, that the English word conveyed a “new kind of protest... clearly different in kind and degree from what could be expected in the past in response to a statement or action.”

In the past there have been controversies over German usage of words like “download”, “job-hopping” or “eye-catcher”, the BBC's Steve Evans reports from Berlin.

Full story...

No matter the cost, English-language requirements aren’t going anywhere
By Matt Berman,

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 27, 2013—In a sweeping new program to slash the welfare state, a government announced a statute on Wednesday that will prevent people who are not proficient in English—or at least enrolled in English language classes—from drawing unemployment benefits. This isn’t happening in the United States. This is a British proposal, announced in the United Kingdom, by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

But the emphasis on encouraging new residents to speak English isn’t just a British thing: It’s ingrained in the comprehensive immigration-reform bill that the Senate may pass Thursday, and it’s furthered by a big amendment that could go up for a vote from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

The new rule in the U.K. is pretty straightforward: As part of a program designed to cut £350 million in welfare spending in 2015-16, U.K. residents will not be able to receive unemployment benefits unless they are either proficient in English or enrolled in English language classes. The minimum level of language proficiency in the U.K. is that of a 9-year-old native.

In the U.S., as part of the Senate’s immigration bill, to receive a green card for permanent residency, immigrants must be either proficient in English or be taking English language classes. Under current law, English proficiency is required only to gain citizenship. Immigrants only need to have “developing” language skills to be considered proficient.

Rubio, however, is trying to make the English requirements in the Senate bill significantly stricter. He introduced an amendment that would require green-card recipients to be proficient in English—not just taking classes to get there. The fate of that amendment in the Senate isn’t clear, but it could be resolved Thursday.

Full story...

Japan’s public broadcaster sued over use of English words
By Justin McCurry,

TOKYO, June 27, 2013—Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK, is in a spot of toraburu with a disgruntled viewer who has filed a damages lawsuit against the company for the “mental distress” caused by its excessive use of words derived from English.

Hoji Takahashi, who says he represents a pressure group that protects the Japanese language, is seeking 1.41 million yen (£9,300) in damages from NHK, reports said.

In his suit filed with the Nagoya district court, Takahashi said the deluge of English words used in NHK’s news and entertainment programmes had caused him emotional distress, and accused the broadcaster of ignoring its responsibility to use Japanese alternatives.

Among the words he cited as particularly troublesome were kea (care), toraburu (trouble), risuku (risk) and shisutemu (system). He also noted the frequent use of loan words in programme titles, such as BS Kosheruju (BS Concierge) and Sutajio Paaku Kara Konnichiwa (Hello from Studio Park).

The 71-year-old claims he and other elderly viewers had been left baffled by some of NHK’s content. “I contacted NHK to inquire about this, but there was no response so I decided to take the matter to court,” Kyodo News quoted him as saying. “I want the broadcaster to take into account elderly viewers like me when it is creating shows.”

The frequent use of words derived from English, plus a smaller number whose origins can be found in Portuguese, Dutch and other languages, is not confined to NHK.

But Takahashi said that given its considerable reach and influence, the company had a responsibility to remain neutral and appeal to as many viewers as possible.

Full story...

French stands nary a chance against a global English-language tsunami
By Evelyn Leopold,

UNITED NATIONS, New York, June 4, 2013—French, once the language of high culture, kings and queens, and pin-striped diplomats, is drowning in a global tsunami of English usage in commerce, science, education—and even at the multilingual United Nations.

The United Nations has six official languages but English and French are considered the “working” languages. Yet without fluent English, journalists can’t understand press conferences, diplomats can’t negotiate resolutions and officials in the field can’t file reports.

Still, many of the U.N. peacekeeping missions are in Africa—and in French-speaking lands, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Mali. Too often senior U.N. officials heading these operations, while fluent in French, are not native French speakers.

At a recent session at the Consulate General of France in New York, Stephane Dujarric, director of the U.N.’s News and Media Division, said:

“So my simple answer is: learn English!

“It’s not abdicating in the face of an English tsunami. It’s about making sure you know how to swim.”

If you don’t speak and especially write English fluently you will not be hired in an international organization or you will not be able to prosper in it. Let’s recognize that in this very point in human history, English is the dominant language. Nothing lasts forever. Tomorrow it may be Mandarin and a few hundred years later Arabic. But today it’s English. That’s an indisputable fact.

Full story...

The English language in the “Asian century”
By Phan Le Ha, University world News

June 2013—Asia is seen as the future for the internationalisation of higher education, and the globalisation of English is enabling this future. Countries in Asia have therefore started to align their internationalisation strategies towards this Asia focus.

For example, Singapore’s Minister of Education Heng Swee Keat concluded in his talk at the Singapore Management University on 16 February: “Asia is going to be a critical part of our future. The more we understand what is going on in Asia, the better our future will be. We must position ourselves as a global Asian hub that connects Asia with the world.”

The internationalisation of higher education and the English language play a key role in Singapore’s endeavour to become a ‘global Asian hub’ and to identify and create ‘advantages that others find relevant’.

However, it seems that the internationalisation policies of countries and universities in Asia seldom question the global dominance of English and what consequences it may have for knowledge and scholarship building and the general well-being of Asian societies in the long run.

Let me now turn to a few interrelated issues to elaborate this problem further.

Scholars continue to raise questions related to the overemphasis on the English-only curriculum and the English-only mentality when it comes to what counts as valid knowledge and as legitimate intellectual sources in knowledge exchanges and knowledge production.

Full story...

Language authorities break rules, add “tweet” to Oxford English Dictionary
By Rosa Golijan, TODAY

June 14, 2013—Authorities on the English language — the folks behind the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), to be specific — have once again seen it fit to acknowledge the existence of some terms which techies have been mumbling (and typing) for years.

Yes, that’s right — you can finally talk about “big data,” “crowdsourcing,” “e-readers,” “mouseovers,” “redirects,” “streams,” and more without fretting that you’re using the terms in an unsanctioned manner.

And you can also use “tweet” — as a verb or a noun — to discuss social networking. “This breaks at least one OED rule, namely that a new word needs to be current for 10 years before consideration for inclusion,” John Simpson, chief editor of the OED, explains in a blog post. “But it seems to be catching on.”

It'll be a few more years before Twitter-related terms will actually meet that OED standard, of course. One of the very first tweets went out on March 21, 2006, though the service didn't truly gain popularity until the next year's South by Southwest (SXSW) conference.

Mind you, the Oxford Dictionaries Online (ODO) — which focuses on the current state of the English language and includes modern meanings and uses of words — has already included “tweeps” and other Twitter-related terms for quite some time.

Full story...

Copyright © 2010 by Aperture Web Development. All rights reserved.

Page best viewed with:

Mozilla FirefoxGoogle Chrome

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional

Page last modified: 25 May, 2014, 4:30 a.m.