Sunday, March 19, 2017

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - “An advice, ” “a good news”: Errors of Pluralization in Nigerian English

Toyin said:

In terms of development generally, the reality is that English is the language of modernity. Take it or leave it, it makes no difference. The Asians etc are scrambling to learn English. Why? The 20th century onward is dominated by Anglo-American civilization, as demonstrated by the cultural sweep of this civilization, as suggested even by the origins of this medium in which we are communicating.

I think he sums up an indisputable argument, in the claims that English is the language of modernity.

But that language that toyin identifies is really what Farooq has been calling standard English.

That means, as I understand it, not the language of a specific culture, but rather, as toyin said, perfectly, the language of modernity.

The language that airplane pilots all around the world have to master adequately to land a plane in an airport. Or for technicians to learn, or those whose livelihood depends on global traffic.

Like kids learning what to say to tourists. Not the language of anglo-american civilization, toyin, as far as I can see. There is nothing whatever that is specific to a given culture. That’s why the words that are culturally specific, like slip or underpants or shorts or vest—all those words that are different in given cultures—are not the words that really matter in standard English, unless you are selling them as commodities. But when it comes to something like barrels of oil, or dollars, or Chinese words for currency, etc., become universal.

Words you need to know if you go to a hotel, or, more importantly, if you run the hotel; not words that are used in people’s homes.

Foreign words, flat words, professional words, words for those who are trained, not those who just grow up hearing the words.

Words like thanks and goodbye; not like how much? Where?

See ya’


Or words that change, quickly, like slang, in contrast with words used by tv announcers whose broadcasts are seen around the word.

By the way, what language is now being taught across the united states, not just increasingly in universities, but in high schools, middle schools—schools that advertise themselves as up to date, globally relevant? Chinese. mandarin Chinese. Meanwhile all those prestigious European tongues have practically disappeared: French, Italian, even german; while Spanish is managing to hang on, but, I recently learned, also struggling….



Kenneth Harrow

Dept of English and Film Studies

Michigan State University

619 Red Cedar Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824



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