English as your second language


The boy said, I want to kiss you here. The girl stepped back and said, no way — so many people here. The boy said, just a light one on the nose. She did. He pressed her cheek, and said “thank you.”

A sweet love scene recorded in China by Ernop. In Chinese? Or English?

Wired magazine notes that English is fast becoming a foreign language. By 2020, only 15 percent of English speakers in the world will live in countries such as England, Australia or the United States where it is a native tongue — the other 1.7 billion people will be Chinese, Japanese, Romanians, and hundreds of other nationalities who are learning, and shifting, English as the worldwide language of business.

Wired notes that this global usage is creating dramatic shifts in English grammar. In China, adding “did” or “do” to questions is being dropped. The sound of vowels is changing, and subjects are disappearing. It’s a fascinating combination of how language has always evolved, and how the removal of geographic barriers means your own tongue today may be owned by others on the other side of the world tomorrow. “Soon,” Michael Erard writes, “when Americans travel abroad, one of the languages they’ll have to learn may be their own.”

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