Dixie Darr

One Thing Leads to Another: On the Trail of Global English

In Uncategorized on January 4, 2011 at 6:58 am

One of my jobs is reviewing student papers for the University of Phoenix Center for Writing Excellence. In many ways, it’s the perfect job for me. Because everything is done over the Internet, I can be hypercritical without ever having to face anybody in person. I also get to learn more about the topics the students write on and I learn more than I ever wanted to know about the kinds of writing mistakes people typically make.

On most tests of learning styles, I am classified a verbal learner. Stated simply, I love language: words and the way they fit together, whether written or spoken. I also teach writing and I’ve been telling my students for years that they are very lucky that their native language has become the global language. I used to show part of a video from an old (1986) telecourse called The Story of English detailing how this came about. Although the videos are no longer available, you can find an updated version of the accompanying book.

More recently on TED.com, Jay Walker talks about the world’s mania for English. All of this fascinates me, so I was intrigued when I ran across a reference to “Globish” while participating in an online faculty forum. A simplified version of English, Globish uses only 1500 words and can be used the world over by businesses and tourists from various countries who need to be able to communicate with one another.

After googling globish, I found a couple of books, one of which I ordered from the library, and a Newsweek article. Both the article and the book I ordered were written by Robert McCrum, who was also a co-author of my old favorite, The Story of English.

All of this took maybe half an hour and gave me new insight into a topic that has captivated me for years.

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