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For the last 4 weeks I have been occasionally posting on this blog and I have been reading many other fantastic and interesting blogs (so much creativity out there). This has made my think about the languages used in blogs. Although I intended this blog to predominantly be about my artistic creative attempts, I have written some of these random (and sometimes disconnected) thoughts below.

I was born in England and as a child I lived in English speaking countries. My friends were often from many different countries but we communicated with each other in English. I was aware there were many other languages and not everyone spoke English and I picked up a few words of other languages as I went. That was fine with me.

As I travelled through different countries I became aware people were often using English to communicate with each other.

I was in a queue in German speaking part of Switzerland. The Spanish couple in front of me reached the front of the queue and, without any hesitation, started to converse in English with the German speaking ticket seller. That was real surprise for me. I hadn’t appreciated until then how English had become this common language for so many people.

I experimented with satellite TV in the 1990’s and that opened up TV from most of Europe and a little beyond. Suddenly there was French, Swedish, German, Spanish, Finish, Norwegian, Russian, Italian, Dutch, Luxembourgish, Arabic language being heard. Norwegian intrigued me – so many words that are still the same in northern England and Scotland. Why? What is English? Where does it come from? How does this all tie together? What were the reasons people outside the UK were using this language? I started to become interested in English.

The mist of confusion lifted a little when I found out how European Germanic languages developed.

English2

One year I did a crazy trip through Europe: UK, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Lichtenstein, Austria. By the time I found myself in an Italian supermarket being told the shop was about to close, I couldn’t think what to say in reply. English, French, German… I could hear Italian but my brain couldn’t work out which words in which language I should speak! I mumbled something in French. How do people cope with being multi-lingual???

In much of the world I can travel and only speak English. When I try other languages the reaction is often for the other person to start to speak English (probably because their English is better than my French, German, Spanish… anything!) This makes it easy for me and I am linguistically lazy. I am mostly thinking about conversations with adults – children are different as they almost always have one language and don’t learn another until later, but they rarely judge me as I converse with them in a few sentences of their own language.

Much of the Internet’s pages are in English. As the Internet was created in the US this may not be surprising. But is it good to have one predominant language? I can express myself best in English – does this mean I should always write in English? I am constantly surprised at how fluently and eloquently people write on the Internet when their first language is not English! Sometimes this leaves me with a dilemma – should I offer to correct slight mistakes, or would this be taken as criticism?

English is such a strange melting pot of different languages and I could write so much more… but that’s enough for anyone with the patience to get this far :o)


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_used_on_the_Internet

http://www.bl.uk/learning/langlit/changlang/across/languagetimeline.html

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