Sunday, December 24, 2006
An ex-vice president of IBM in charge of world trade made some interesting observations of how all non-english speaking countries' natives have developed what he has termed Globish. In addition to the wonderful tool the internet serves global communication, this "English-lite" way of speaking may very well be the healing of mankind's fractious wound in Babel. Now if we could get the doctors, lawyers and priests to quit babbling in latin…
Thanks for the link to this article. It tends to the academic in using big words to show how simple ones are better. Still, it is very interesting in a practical sense. Confused communication in this Forum and many internationally used web sites are good examples. It can often be seen in our Chat Room where "Could you repeat that plainly?" is a common cross cultural question.
It is not always the bigness of the word that gets in the way but rather the limited contextual or geographic area in which it is used and for what. Think jargon and slang, used in both cases so outsiders won't know.
The problem centers often on habitually not thinking beyond assumption that one's own way is the norm, or should be. Local people from my area can tell by word habits in which of four or so few kilometer separated small villages a person lives. On a larger scale, though you will not find it in a book on Spanish, people in this part of Mexico often use "eh" instead of "si" for the English "yes". Maybe there is some magic in the sound of "eh" shown by the habit of many Canadians hanging it on the end of every sentence.
Lack of word simplicity often covers for but can flag cloudy understanding. Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead worked together on Principia Mathematica, one of the most profound papers at basis of math and physics. Russell wrote simply. Whitehead did not. One gets the sense Russell understood their work better than Whitehead. Einstein's theory of special relativity was itself the best of its popular explanations. Meaning of his following theory of general relativity can hardly be put to words, let alone mathematics. Einstein himself understood the first more than the second. It has been said that the job of a physicist is not done until discoveries can be explained to a seven year old child.
"KISS" is short for a slogan taught every student of computer system design (Note: I did not use "acronym") taken from "Keep It Simple Stupid". It is too bad it is more often repeated than applied. KISS fits well to language use also. It is what Globish really comes down to.
There is a question worth asking as we cast thoughts across space. Are we really trying to aid others' learning and thus in turn learn from them? Or, are we more interested in showing ourselves how smart we are by remaining un-kissable?
Those who are not trying to improve communications to increase the general wisdom of mankind must be lying, or, at least spinning the truth to corral mindless believers. Look at the specializations that use Latin, though no country still speaks it: Religion for spiritual control, Lawyers for physical control, scientists for mythical control, doctors for health control.
kissed = Keep it simply said education delight
Just to play the devils advocate here, I will suggest there is a need for complex words (those with multiple roots) to convey complex meanings. If people have to ponder a little bit, or even grab a dictionary, it is not such a bad thing.Decreasing standards of explanation can have serious negative effects, as I think the national discussion of politics demonstrates.
it's not too different from the 100 word essential word list that my son had to learn in Kidergarten last year, but it's extended to 1500 words.
It's actually the 1500 most common words in English as used today by most people. Most high school students of today would do really well in knowing how to spell them all and knowing which ones to use when. I.e. their, they're and there.
Yes, we call it Arabeeze. It's one word in Arabic, 5 in English and 2 in some mix between. What have become of Esperanto?
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