Tuesday, February 28, 2012

English around the world

I'm a little tired from travelling in Southeast Asia for a month, and although I should be taking advantage of my little vacation in the region before I go home, I'm resting in my room and contemplating a nap. I'm also contemplating the ubiquity of English and thinking about how it's used around the world. I've been in Indonesia for the last week, and it's really interesting to me to see how much English has infiltrated their language, Bahasa Indonesia. A colleague told me the other day how they're trying to get rid of all the Dutch words in their language. The Dutch colonised this area for about 400 years. I don't know enough Dutch to see all its influence, but there are a few I can pick up, such as the word for bus stop, halte. It surprises me that they're more concerned about the Dutch influence than the English. You can take a yellow bas sekolah to get to school, and maybe you wouldn't be allowed to eat an apel while you're on the bus, but you might find it in your lunch. Sometimes a teksi is more flexible about what you can eat if you're running late for work perhaps, and need to get there in a jiffy. There are many places where you can find seks, but instead you can always find many other places where they serve fresh fruit jus of various kinds, and you can make them colder with es if you need to. There are many more like this that I can't remember off the top of my head, but I do find it funny. Generally a language will not have a word for which the speakers of that language have no concept, which is why many languages will adopt words from a language if they have been colonised, and often from English whether or not they have been colonised, and then those words are given a spelling and/or pronunciation to make it fit with the local language. It's quite entertaining. That still doesn't explain the Dutch.

My cousin in India suggested to me that Indian style English may soon become the norm because there are so many speakers of that style. Isn't that a scary thought! We'll have to read the Samosapedia dictionary to start practising now! :o)


  1. i wonder if i should show the corresponding English words..

  2. Well, I hope people can figure them out as written. I edited it a bit to add one more; many of them are phonetic, but if anyone comments that they didn't figure the English words out, I'll post the translation. Thanks for the offer!