Thursday, November 03, 2011
Don't teach the 'Queen's English' to foreign language students, linguist urges
The guy below is off his head. He is right that English is used in many nations in a way that diverges from standard English -- but have you ever tried to understand (say) Indian English? It can get close to impossible. I have even seen signs up outside shops in Bombay saying "Indian English only spoken here". The Indians themselves know the difficulties concerned. If the aim is to communicate with other English-speakers, standard English must be taught, despite small differences between British and American usage.
The very idea of there being a standard English will no doubt arouse great huffing and puffing from the guy below but if there is no such thing, how come these comments written in Australia will be completely understood in the USA, the UK, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand -- places literally worlds apart?
Update: I suppose that the "linguist" below MAY simply have been speaking about the accent that is taught, though it does not appear so. Accents CAN indeed be a problem. A Northern English person who visited a shop in the South and asked for "booblegoom" (where "oo" is pronounced as in "look"), could well be not understood at all -- even if all he wanted was bubble gum.
But in practice that problem rarely arises. Most English learners outside Britain itself learn a generic version of American English pronunciation
People learning the English language around the world should not adopt the 'Queen's English', a linguist said today.
Dr Mario Saraceni, of the University of Portsmouth, called on native English speakers to 'give up their claim to be the guardians of the purest form of the language'.
He argued that the ways it has been used and changed by millions of people around the world are equally valid.
Writing in the latest issue of the journal Changing English, he suggests the way English is taught to non-native speakers, but whose mother tongue is English, needs a dramatic change. He said: 'It's important the psychological umbilical cord linking English to its arbitrary centre in England is cut. 'The English are not the only legitimate owners of the language.
'English is the most dominant language on the planet and though it is spoken widely in the western world, westerners are in the minority of English language speakers.
'For many around the world, the ability to speak English has become as important as knowing how to use a computer. 'But the myth of the idealised native speaker needs to be abandoned. 'How it is spoken by others should not be seen as second best.'
Dr Saraceni, of the School of Languages and Area Studies, said it was time English language teachers abroad took down posters of double-decker buses and Parliament Square from their classrooms and taught English in a purely local context.
He said: 'Critics might feel uncomfortable with what they see as a laissez-faire attitude but language use is not about getting closer to the 'home' of English, and it is not about bowing deferentially and self-consciously to the so-called superiority of the inner circle of the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand.
According to Dr Saraceni, the widely-held view that English has spread around the world from its original birthplace in England can be challenged.
He said: 'The idea seems natural and unquestionable, but if you examine it closer it is patently untrue. 'It is impossible to identify any point in history or geography where the English language started - one can talk only of phases of development.
'The origins of English are not to be found in the idea of it spreading from the centre to the periphery, but in multiple, simultaneous origins. 'The concept of a single version of any language is always questionable.'
Dr Saraceni said that English had been 'reincarnated' throughout the world, including in Malaysia, India, China and Nigeria, and therefore England should not be seen as the linguistic 'garden of Eden' where the language was pure and perfect.
The de-Anglicisation of English needs to take place primarily in classrooms and the 'whole mystique of the native speaker and mother tongue should be quietly dropped from the linguist's set of myths about the language', he said.
Betrayal of the family: Despite all those Tory promises, fathers and grandparents will still be denied the right to see children after a divorce
Fathers and grandparents will not be given any legal right to see children after a break-up, under the biggest changes to family law in a generation.
In what was immediately denounced as a ‘betrayal’ of the family, a major report today rules against giving men shared or equal time with their children when a relationship ends.
It suggests fathers will even be denied the legal right to maintain a ‘meaningful relationship’ with their families, as this ‘would do more harm than good’.
The review also kicks into touch Coalition pledges to make it easier to maintain contact with grandchildren when parents separate, a problem that usually affects those on the father’s side.
The long-awaited Family Justice Review was branded a ‘monstrous sham’ that undermines David Cameron’s pledge to lead the most family-friendly government in history.
The independent report was commissioned by ministers to examine the case for reform of a family law system repeatedly accused of putting rights of mothers over those of fathers and grandparents.
But its proposals – likely to form the basis of future government family policy – sparked an immediate Cabinet revolt.
Allies of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said he would fight to ensure the Government’s response – due to be published in January – will do more for fathers and grandparents.
A source close to the Cabinet minister said that the findings were ‘absurd’, warning that they undermined attempts to tackle the generation of fatherless youths blamed for the summer’s riots.
But Justice Secretary Ken Clarke is expected to back the review, chaired by former civil servant and Marks & Spencer executive David Norgrove.
His report was commissioned by Labour and dismissed by the Tories in Opposition as inadequate but will now form the basis of Coalition legislation.
The review comes against a backdrop of soaring divorce rates and increasing numbers of children being born out of wedlock, often to co-habitees who are more likely to break up than married couples. Last year there were almost three million children aged under 16 living in a lone-parent household – or 24 per cent of the total.
Mr Norgrove’s findings fly in the face of studies showing that it is best for a child to have extensive access to both its father and mother. The report says: ‘No legislation should be introduced that creates or risks creating the perception that there is a parental right to substantially shared or equal time for both parents.’
Mr Norgrove has even watered down his own interim report, published in March, which said there should be a legal presumption that children should have a ‘meaningful relationship’ with both parents.
Mr Norgrove believes that enshrining such rights in law could slow down already lengthy and expensive custody cases. Instead, the courts will simply have to consider the benefits of a meaningful relationship when they decide where children should live and how often they should see each parent.
The final report flatly rejected claims by fathers’ rights groups that the current system is biased – despite figures showing that 93 per cent of custody battles are won by the mother.
Nadine O’Connor, of the Fathers 4 Justice campaign group, said: ‘The review is a monstrous sham and a bureaucratic exercise in improving the efficiency of injustice. It will feed the epidemic of mass fatherlessness and lead to further social unrest. ‘This report condemns children to a life without fathers with catastrophic social consequences.’
The report also contradicts pledges by senior officials earlier this year that grandparents would be given far greater rights. Instead, they will still have to apply to court twice to see their grandchildren: once for the right to begin a case and then to seek access to their loved ones. The Norgrove panel merely issued a tepid recommendation that their role should be ‘emphasised’.
Instead of legal protections for fathers and grandparents, the Norgrove report laid out plans to encourage parents to settle disputes before they get to court.
All parents will be given advice on drawing up ‘parenting agreements’ to divide the care of their children.
James Deuchars, of Grandparents Apart UK, said: ‘The Tories said before the election that grandparents were going to have more rights. This is a betrayal of that promise. It was all a con and a gimmick. ‘This report is trying to do away with the traditional family. The result will be more bitter and disillusioned young boys who join gangs.’
A source close to Mr Cameron said the Government has ‘certainly not’ pledged to adopt all the report’s recommendations. But a source close to Mr Clarke described it as ‘an authoritative account of the problems and a thoughtful look at the solutions’.
The report also said no childcare case should last more than six months and recommended the creation of a Family Justice Service to focus the work of all agencies for the 500,000 children and adults caught up in the family courts each year.
Offices of French magazine torched after latest edition mocked Prophet Mohammed
Molotov cocktails were today used to burn down the headquarters of a leading French magazine because it mocked the Prophet Mohammed.
Arsonists struck shortly after 1am at the Paris offices of Charlie Hedbo, a Gallic version of Private Eye which prides itself on its mix of cutting satire and investigative journalism.
Its latest edition carries a cartoon image of a bearded Mohammed - something which is blasphemous under Islamic law - and pretends that it is being 'guest edited' by the Prophet. It is accompanied by the slogan '100 lashes if you don't die of laughter', and the magazine is renamed 'Sharia Hebdo', after Sharia law.
A source at the magazine, based in Boulevard Davout in the city's 20th arrondissement, said: 'Molotov cocktail petrol bombs were used to attack the offices first thing this morning. 'The attackers concentrated on the computer system, literally melting it. The offices were empty so nobody was injured, but thousands of euros worth of damage were caused.'
Charlie Hebdo's editor-in-chief, a cartoonist known only as Charb, said: 'We no longer have a newspaper. All our equipment has been destroyed or has melted. 'We could not put a paper together today, but we will do everything possible to produce one next week. 'Whatever happens, we'll do it. There is no question of giving up.'
The magazine's website was also hacked, with messages appearing in English and Turkish denouncing its journalists for causing widespread offence.
Armed police were this morning surrounding the charred remains of the building, which is close to a number of housing estates where the occupants are predominantly Muslim.
Many regularly complain about discrimination in a country where racial and religious tensions often boil to the surface in riots.
Six years ago, Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard provoked anger across the Islamic world when he published 12 satirical images of the Prophet in a Danish newspaper. The then editor of Charlie Hebdo was prosecuted in France for 'insulting Muslims' after he reproduced those images, but he was acquitted in 2007.
Despite this morning's attack, the special edition of Charlie Hebdo was still on newsstands this morning, complete with an editorial 'by the Prophet' on Hallal drinks.
There were also features on 'soft Sharia', concentrating on the emergence of Islamic parties in Tunisia and Libya following the Arab Spring revolutions.
It also has a women's section called 'Sharia Madame', which concentrates on Islamic veils, which were recently banned in France.
There are around six million Muslims living in France - the largest Muslim population in western Europe.
A Paris spokesman said there had been no arrests, but witnesses had seen the petrol bombs being thrown and two men fleeing the scene.
Architects make me thankful for Prince Charles
He may be a bit dotty but he does a good job of keeping architectural ugliness out of London. We need him in Australia too. Look at the scrappy thing below. It looks like some kid has been playing around with bits of string. I drive past the absurd thing frequently. It is just a jagged mess
THE striking Kurilpa Bridge [above] linking Brisbane's CBD with South Brisbane has wowed the judges at the World Architecture Festival awards.
Designed by local firm Cox Rayner, the pedestrian bridge has beaten stiff competition from the United Arab Emirates, China, Sweden, UK and the Netherlands to be named best World Transport Building.
The Brisbane structure - dubbed the fiddlesticks bridge by some - now goes into the running for the top award at the festival to be announced on Friday.
Costing $63.3 million to build, the bridge carries an estimated 50,000 pedestrians and cyclists each week.
It is the world's largest structure to be based upon the principles of 'tensegrity', the term coined by Richard Buckminster Fuller to describe a system of balanced compressive and tensile forces.
Stretching 360m across the Brisbane River, the Kurilpa bridge also connects to 1.5km of continuous pathway from South Brisbane, through the Arts precinct, across the river into the CBD and on to Roma Street parkland.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.