The Linguist

The Linguist 57,3 – June/July 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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@Linguist_CIOL JUNE/JULY The Linguist 27 OPINION & COMMENT whether the growth of different forms of the vernacular in English provide us with evidence that the mother tongue itself is destined (or even doomed) to fragment and break up into related but not always mutually intelligible languages. After all, Latin blended into the Romance languages in all their wonderful variety. Singaporean English is frequently cited as an example of a language in the process of moving away from Standard Modern English, which may be true in terms of everyday communication but is unlikely to happen in more formal contexts, such as business contracts and school textbooks. This raises the question as to whether there is a sufficiently formalised structure for a particular variety of English to be taught. Fanakalo is a curious case in point. A pidgin which emerged in the mines of southern Africa, drawing initially on Zulu and English and then Shona and Bemba, it was once taught to migrant workers by the management before they moved to the mining districts (15 hours being considered sufficient preparation time to get started). Will modern-day pressures create genuine divergence between what are now termed World Englishes? It must be recognised that English always has been a flexible language and one responsive to change, though it English in all its richness The need to communicate is part of the human drive, but ever since the first homo sapiens gazed at his first Neanderthal, the question has been how to do this. Pidgins and creoles are to be found all over the world (on islands in many cases, interestingly enough), and have emerged in places as diverse as the mines of South Africa and (it is said) the playgrounds of London. Linguistic theory has not always been kind to pidgins and creoles, dismissing the former as a primitive form of communication, emerging in low-level and often fragmented societies. Creoles are at least given the dignity of their grammars being recognised to the extent that they can be recorded and taught. This negative view, however, seems rather outmoded. Tok Pisin is now one of the official languages of Papua New Guinea, and patois has been formalised in many ways in Jamaica, with a translation of the Bible and a listing among the languages assessed by the DPSI (Diploma in Public Service Interpreting). At CIOL Members' Day, Professor Jennifer Jenkins of Southampton University considered Exploring the history of pidgins and creoles, and what it means for English resisted some of the modifications recommended by Noah Webster in America. English in the UK has changed even during my lifetime, with the virtual death of 'whom' and the irritating confusions between singular and plural, which are even to be heard on BBC Radio 4. The increasing Americanisation of English seems inevitable, but then much of what is considered 'transatlantic' is merely the earlier English usage coming home. This issue has been explored expertly and in some detail by Mark Abley (The Prodigal Tongue, 2009), Jacques Arends, Pieter Muysken and Norval Smith (Pidgins and Creoles: An introduction, 1995), Melvyn Bragg (The Adventure of English, 2004) and David Crystal (e.g. The Stories of English, 2004 and English as a Global Language, 2012). The standard use of English on the internet, the power of film and the status of English literature will probably conserve the formal variety of the language. What happens to spoken varieties is anybody's guess. Professor Tim Connell FCIL is a CIOL Vice-President. TIM CONNELL TALKING CREOLE At CIOL Members' Day, Jennifer Jenkins considered what the emerging forms of English globally might tell us about the future of the language © CHRIS CHRISTODOULOU

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