Trivia Teaser

Which word can be reading material or can mean to reserve a seat?

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Diary
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English as a Global Language

19
Mar
2008
 

By Christine Lovatt

English today is closer to being a world language than any other language has been in history – good news for you because if you’re reading this, you can understand English.

It’s the international language of science, air and sea traffic.  Diplomatic and sporting circles and trade conferences around the world all use English as their first language.

But the biggest trigger to catapult English into the most dominant position has been the Internet. No global communication could succeed without settling on one primary language.

Apart from the many variations to the rule in spelling and grammar, one expression has so many meanings. For instance, ‘work out’ could refer to working out the answer to a problem (or crossword), or the way a situation works out or turns out. You can also work out your notice, work out the seams of a coal mine or, if you’ve still got any energy left, exercise or work out in the gym.

I often receive letters from puzzle solvers who came originally from another country and have used our crosswords to help them improve their English. After spending your formative years speaking another language, to suddenly find yourself having to communicate in English must be a huge challenge. Words like ‘rough’, ‘cough’, ‘through’, ‘though’, ‘thought’ and ‘bough’ must present a nightmare with pronunciation and spelling!

So I take my hat off to all of our readers who have had to learn English as a second tongue – I’d love to hear from you and the problems you had mastering English.

 

Happy puzzling!

5 Responses to

English as a Global Language

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March 20, 2008 at 2:26 PM

 

Ah! So true! English is my first language, but I have heard a poem written by someone years ago for whom English proved a puzzle, particularly when it comes to the gazillion ways 'ough' can sound. It's be adapted over time, and you may have heard similar poems, but it goes... The wind was rough, and cold, and blough She kept her hands inside her mough And yet although there was nough snough The weather was a cruel fough. It made her cough (please do not scough) She coughed until her hat blough ough.

 

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muggins said:
March 20, 2008 at 10:29 PM

 

Yes it is a wonderful thing to have a global language like English and I too applaud all those whose native tongue is other than English who have made the effort to learn. However, being a British citizen resident in Spain I see the other side of the coin. There are too many people for whom English is their mother tongue, who do not make the effort to learn other languages. Without wanting to sound pompous, I have always taken the effort to learn at least a little of a language when going abroad on holiday or business. Having holidayed in Spain for many years I eventually became proficient in the language. I see too many British people here who refuse to make the effort and expect our Spanish hosts to learn English - what arrogance. Come on all you idle ex-pat Brits, get off your bums and show a bit of respect for our host nations around the world.

 

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nan6 said:
March 21, 2008 at 3:02 PM

 

Have you thought of starting up a kids site, where immigrants learning English as a second language could learn the basics. Using from simple words (easy) to harder words (med) then more complex words (hard). Or is there such a site in existence.

 

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Staff

March 25, 2008 at 10:55 AM

 

Thanks nan06, we do have a kids' puzzle site at http://www.lovatts.com.au/pf4k/puzzle-fun-for-kids.php which would be a good place to learn new words.

Hi muggins, I quite agree with you - many English speakers expect English to be understood abroad. Growing up in Britain, I remember holidays in Spain and Italy where the waiters who didn't understand English were sometimes shouted at, as if they were stupid or deaf! Learning a new language is fun and also keeps your brain young.

I love your poem, naturalkiwi – and how true. It must be hard to learn all those words with irregular spellings!

 

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JoNec said:
April 02, 2008 at 2:32 AM

 

Christine, me german! So it would be tough for me, zis to tell to you: When the going gets tough, the tough gets going! But YouPlay is a nice challenge to improve my skills in english. On the other hand, when I read the comments on Youtube, I see that wonderfull language lying in debris. The dark sid(t)e of the net…