In a room full of non-native speakers, ‘there isn’t any chance of understanding’. It might be their language, but the message is often lost
Source: BBC – Capital – Native English speakers are the world’s worst communicators
The BBC has done it again with another excellent article about English language. I have to admit, even though I am a native English speaker, there are times that I don’t understand some of the abbreviations used, and I prefer to spell things out (I think that abbreviations can be a little bit lazy sometimes). But this article makes a fantastic point that native speakers don’t always think about the larger audience of those who speak English as a second or third language. I have no problem asking what something means even in my own language, but that shouldn’t be necessary. One of the things I didn’t like about a job I had was that I was expected to write content in native English, and not try to make it closer to some sort of standard English. “Leave that to the translators to figure out,” I was told. That response irritated me, but I had to comply with what they wanted, even though that’s the wrong way to approach it.
With the advent of the Internet, global communications are much more frequent and common now than even 10-15 years ago. While other countries are making an effort to use the lingua fraca of the Internet, native English speakers should make more of an effort to meet the non-native English speakers part way in being more clear in our communications as well. If someone says they don’t understand me, I’d rather they tell me, because then that’s MY fault, not theirs.
What do you think? Include your thoughts in the comments below.
I often enjoy reading the blog/website Anglotopia, as it is written by a person who loves England and UK stuff as much as I do (if not more) and is making a living doing it (lucky!). This latest article that was posted there is yet another example about localized English, and in this case, translation. We talk about standardizing English for easier translation, whether it’s for machine translation or localization purposes, and this article is a perfect example of how even an American like me would need a translation of the “Yorkshire” English first, but fortunately I understand enough French that I can figure out the translation of the expressions from the French instead. This had to be a little bit complicated to do, but it’s an excellent exercise!
Read the article here:
Le Tour Yorkshire: Translating French into Yorkshire English For the Tour de France in Yorkshire – Are You Watching?
Evidently, Siobhan Thompson is back, and BBC’s Anglophenia must be doing a series on the difference between British English and American English. Here’s another gem on British colloquialisms–some you may have heard before, and some that, well, my British friends will have heard more often than we Yanks….
As I find more, I will continue to post these! I find these fascinating!
If you have suggestions for articles or videos you’ve seen for other versions of English for comparison as well, email me and let me know so we can share with everyone! For example, I’d love to see a video comparing Canadian English and American English, or even Canadian English and British English. Or Australian English, Indian English, or South African English, for that matter. 🙂
It seems these kinds of articles are coming out nonstop these days. While this one doesn’t have a video (awwwww), it’s short and to the point, and is another example of why spoken English can be rather confusing. We have pronunciation confusion here in the States with certain towns and such, some due to the same issue mentioned in this article from the names of towns that we took from Mother England, but also incorporating other languages like Native American, Spanish, and French just to name a few.
Read this and enjoy:
As a follow-up to my fun post, “No Wonder (Verbal) English is confusing!“, here’s a follow-up that really shows how crazy it can get. Although I think in the end, there is some (okay, a lot of) Celtic actually thrown in there rather than simply English spoken with a Scottish brogue, it proves that even in the United Kingdom–other than Wales who definitely have their own language with Welsh–that English is NOT the same everywhere. Here to prove that is Karen Gillam, who played Amy Pond on Doctor Who.