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Has anyone heard anything about this "Globlish"?
Thread poster: Rafa Lombardino

Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:53
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Globlish is a controlled/simplified language May 18, 2005

VBaby wrote:
Actually, globish shouldn't figure in an "Artificial languages" forum at all, since it's the ultimate natural language.

What is referred to as Natural Language Processing (NLP) covers both spoken utterances and written texts. I've been working in the NLP field for 10 years. Yet, the only true natural language is the one that we speak verbally.

Allen, Jeff. Issues in Multilingual Speech Technologies: The differences between written and spoken language must be taken into account when developing a speech system. In MultiLingual Computing & Technology, 2004, Number 63, Volume 15, Issue 3.

As well as:

LINGUIST List 8.73
Wed Jan 22 1997
Disc: Ebonics
From: Tom Sawallis
available at:


LINGUIST List 8.49
Sat Jan 18 1997
Disc: Ebonics
From: Charles J. FILLMORE
available at:

This article and 2 discussion list postings clearly show that the spoken language is the real "natural" language. Written language is simply a "learned" 2nd language at school, to be used long-distance and permanent tracing communicative purposes beyond what can be expressed verbally face-to-face (or now by phone).

Some people master the written language well, and others do not, even when the written language that corresponds to one's spoken language. The simple test of this is that when you are translating something and run into an ambiguous sentence, you stop and pronounce the written sentences "out loud" as spoken utterances to determine if it sound "natural" to your ears and inner guts.
And for the term or phrase or full sentence that sounds most appropriate, you then write it down.

VBaby wrote:
Jeff Allen writes: "Such types of simplified languages are more successful in environments where the usage is enforced and the users see the benefits. Proposing a generic simplified language to the public at large without any type of reinforced motivation will probably not be successful."

This may well be true for artifically-created languages, but this doesn't apply here. Users - the Spanish peacekeepers and Indian soldiers in Ben Macintyre column - ARE seeing the benefits and globish is taking root because it isn't "proposed to the public at large" by anyone. It's just there and fulfilling a need.

In addition, it is very important to make a difference between artificial languages and simplified or controlled languages.

Simplified/controlled language take the natural written language and do the following:
1) standardize the lexical terminology so that there is one term per concept as much as possible, rather than 5 terms and meaning for a single concept;
2) standardize the grammatical patterns (already in the written language) to follow consistently.
In both cases, nothing is invented. These are word and sentence structure forms which already exist in the written language. The aim is to standardize their use, especially for writing and translation purposes.

Artificial languages are an attempt to invent new ways to communicate. Some of them (like Esperanto) take language items for difference languages and try to merge them into a new language. Other articifial language create new symbolic codes to express the same concept as can already be described in spoken or written language. Yet the focus is for terseness and reduction of items to master for that ability to express the idea. Programming languages like Perl, C++, Java, etc are an example of this.

Globlish is therefore a controlled (simplified) form of language which uses a restricted vocabulary set that is intended to have the highest communicative impact in international communication contexts.

There are pros and cons to the use of any controlled or simplified form of language. I think that the creation and use of the GM Global English was a good idea. Would I use it for international communication needs. Of course. Would I teach it to my son as the language for him to speak naturally. Not at all. It is something that he could learn later in addition. Would I teach Globlish to learners of English in a Learning Global English courses. Yes, quite possibly. Would I claim it to be the highest level or natural language. As a trained sociolinguist and psycholinguist with degrees and much teaching experience in these areas, not at all.

VBaby wrote:
Quote: "Globish is not quite a language: it is a means to an end, a way of bringing millions into a global economy without the privilege of formal education, a world dialect, an international über-slang that, for the most part, leaves local languages intact. It may be a limited form of communication, but at least Globish means that we are talking to each other."

And as for using the word dialect to describe Globlish, I very much disagree, having spent many years working in the area of dialectology along with sociolinguistics.

From a purely linguistic dialectology point of view:
* idiolect = the individual way that anyone uses phonological, syntactic/grammatical, lexical/terminological, and semantic forms in their spoken form (and even written form)
* patois = a community (or up to district) level variety that represents the variety used by one community versus another. A patois can be easily identified by specific phonetic/phonological and lexical traits which can be traced on a dialect atlas of a country.
* dialect = a group of patois (usually within a given region) which have several sets of similar phonetic/phonological and lexical traits
* language = a group of linguistically defined dialects. The group called "language" distinguishes itself from other group "languages" which themselves also contain subset dialects and patois.

In non-linguistic circles, the word "language" often has a positive connotation, whereas the word "dialect" usually has a negative connotation as a substandard form of a language. Very often the word "patois" is referred to as a "broken" language. We must remember that these are not real definitions, but rather a "feeling"-based idea that changes from one individual to another based on their life experience and how they view "language".
In this case for Globlish, the word "dialect" is used to mean something completely different than either its true linguistic definition (further above), its typical connotation of being a sublanguage (immediately above), its cultural definition of being a language different from others but in isolated areas, etc. This new use of the word dialect is just a marketing thing that can be confusing.


[Edited at 2005-05-18 18:03]


Local time: 02:53
Esperanto to English
+ ...
Reinventing the Wheel Nov 30, 2005

Balasubramaniam wrote:

Rafaela Lombardino wrote:

But if an American or British businessman were observing the two foreigners talk, they would not be able to make sense of much of it...

How can it be "global english" without the Americans, the "first nation" of the world, and the British, "the copyright holders of English"?

I am only joking of course.

Globish can serve for the most elementary form of communication, but for all higher purposes regular languages will continue to be indispensible.

[Edited at 2005-05-02 11:33]

All those who propose new international languages are reinventing the wheel. Esperanto functions admirably and has done so for over one hundred years. It threatens no existing language or ethnic group.


Local time: 17:53
Italian to English
The basics Apr 17, 2007

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