Speak you English?


Speak you English?

By Pratibha Umashankar

ENGLISH IS supposed to be an international language. But you will be surprised to discover how many people around the world don’t speak English, or speak a version that sounds like a distant cousin of the Queen’s English.


Is it still English if someone gesticulates wildly with their hands and asks, “Train train, go go where time Moscow?” Yes it is. It is Globish.


 Globish is English spoken around the globe. It is a simplified version of English spoken by many non-native English speakers. It is so simple that the English might not recognise it as English. It is, in fact, a proposed form of English that uses a limited vocabulary and basic syntax — sentence structure — to help non-native speakers of English to communicate. Globish might become Denglish when English is mixed with German. Language purists in Germany have been concerned for some time about the increasing use of English in German, both spoken and written. English words are surreptitiously creeping into German ads. Why Denglish? Why not Genglish, if it is a mixture of German and English? Simple. Denglish is a combination of Deutsche (it is the German word for ‘German’, and is pronounced ‘doytsh’) and English. Do guys feel that they can’t really understand girls when they say “Don’t be mean” or “Cho Chweet!”?

And do girls just gawk when two guys talk, because it is like listening to another language, though it sounds like English? Yes, it is another language.


It is Menglish. Menglish is language used of, by, to, and about men. Yes, there is a gender barrier within the language. It is like men and women belong to two different planets. Yeah, men are from Mars and women are from Venus. When guys and girls think differently, naturally, their language will sound different. And if men speak Menglish, what do women speak? Yes, you guessed it — woMenglish.


First they tried to remove the word ‘man’ from all those male-dominated words for fear of sounding sexist and politically incorrect. From airman to chairman, the word ‘man’ was replaced by ‘person’. But then, you can’t really get rid of either male or female idiosyncrasies. Also, more and more men are taking on what was traditionally considered female-oriented jobs. (You thought it was the other way round. Ha, ha!) We have mannies — male nannies.


Do you want those around you to not know what you are talking about? Do you want to form an exclusive clique and keep others out? Try antilanguage. It is a collection of words and phrases used to exclude outsiders from a particular group. It could also be used to hide the group’s activities. One of the examples of antilanguage is Mobspeak — the language of the Mafia. Do you often wonder about the language of those corporate head honchos when they talk about their business organisation? They use words that, when analysed carefully, don’t mean anything. Yes, it is Spinnish.

Spinnish is the language used by spin doctors and other corporate or political movers and shakers. If someone’s speech is sprinkled with expressions like ‘think out of the box’, ‘ballpark estimate’, ‘rightsizing’, then you can be sure he is a spin doctor who is trying to manipulate language to con you.


Netspeak is a different ball game altogether. All of you practise it. It consists of words, idioms and peculiarities of spelling and grammar that are typical of Online documents and communication. Why only Online, the Net language is making inroads even into other arenas, including Literature.


Linguist David Crystal in his new book Language And The Internet calls it ‘computer-mediated language. Experts claim that Netspeak is going to change how we write. So, kudos to you guys! You will have created a revolution by using Internetese and Netspeak with scant regard to spelling, grammar and literary style, and the tense going for a toss. Don’t be surprised if an entire novel is written using BTW, UR grea8 and the like.

 Then all of you can be cyberscribers — a person who writes about the Internet.

Oh, for LOL!  


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