Sunday, April 1, 2012

cost of illiteracy. Globish critique

(D - the G&M this weekend claimed that a single PERCENT of increased literacy is worth $34 BILLION to Canada.)

A new report released on Thursday shows the social and economic impact of literacy to Japan is $87.78 billion.

The report, from the World Literacy Foundation, shows that more than 800 million people across the world lack the basic reading and writing skills needed to accomplish simple tasks such as reading a medicine label or filling out a job application, costing the global economy more than $1.19 trillion a year.

“The Economic and Social Cost of Illiteracy” looks at the cost of illiteracy in emerging and developing countries, as well as the cost of functional illiteracy in the developed world. It shows more than one in five people across the globe can’t read or write, and more than 100 million children don’t go to school each day.

The report’s co-author Andrew Kay says Japan needs to do more to make serious in-roads to addressing the level of illiteracy in the country.

Often, the end result of low literacy levels is trapping people in a cycle of poverty, poor health, limited employment opportunities, reduced income potential and low productivity in businesses


D - I was watching a video on Globish. In the tradition of Ogden, the author claims only 1500 words can serve the needs of international business.
This controlled language (a subset of Standard English)

Globish is a subset of the English language formalized by Jean-Paul Nerriere.[1] It uses a subset of standard English grammar, and a list of 1500 English words. Nerriere claims it is "not a language" in and of itself,[2] but rather it is the common ground that non-native English speakers adopt in the context of international business. (Wiki)


- According to CIA's "World Factbook", native English speakers represent only 4.68% of the world population.
- Globish is criticized because the systemic principles for its elaboration are nowhere explained.

D - my critism is as follows. While it may render ESL as spoken easier for a native English speaker to understand (more regular, less mistakes), Globish will NOT render spoken Standard English any easier to understand in return.
In fact, the (false) expectation of regular rules and single ways to say things in English will lead them astray. A native English speaker will not be clearly understood when he responds to fairly understood Globish by an ESL speaker.
Globish also ignores certain integral and unremovable elements of English that will be difficult for foreign speakers. Reforms (or a revolt) of sufficient radicalness to address these concerns would render such a "Globish Plus" difficult to understand for a Standard English speaker. Examples include a broad selection of phonemes (about 40), as well as complex consonant clusters and the use of vowel diphthongs, as well as an elaborate syllable stress system.
Here we see the conundrum of attempting to reform an existing natural language that was NOT rationally designed from carefully selected core principles. The speakers of cultural and national Englishes find it either unacceptable to learn a "lite" more limited version of English to communicate with ESLers (English as Second Language), or find limiting their usage of possible ways to express ideas in English as difficult as simply learning a new IAL (aux-lang - auxiliary language) in the first place! A simple example of this would be as follows:
1) we posit that our special "English Lite" can only use the terms "more" or "less" to denote comparative terms.
2) E.g. we cannot use the terms "bigger", "smaller", "better" or "worse" now.
3) I.e. we must use the terms "more big" and "more good" instead.
How long before the Standard English speaker stops concentrating on HOW to say an idea, and defaults to Standard English as they fixate on WHAT they wish to say?
This is only 1 of a great many factors such a speaker of "lite" English would need to keep in mind.


D - this seems to be the most complete listing of it. I was hard pressed to find written examples of Globish.

The listing of my 1,500 basic "Globish" words (black-underlined) is quite similar to the existing Internet Globish listing (in bold letters). Some 195 words that have been added (++) (underlined), and 195 words that have been combined, removed or substituted by existing words are in bold (--). When the two listings are the same, the word is made bold and underlined (XX). When words are combined (e.g. with + in) or are forms of a basic stem (e.g., inform and "information"), we include both under one heading.

ACT -s, -ual, -ually, -ed, -ing Activity lack of {on, up, with}
of doing "Action"
-- [Actor] lack of Inactivity
++ Active Activity
-- [Activist]

D - note that activist if derived from "ACTIVe" and not just "ACT".
Contrast with a term I pick randomly, Marxist.
Contrast with made up terms such as countryist and whiteist.
What Sapir said still applies.
" Anyone who takes the trouble to examine these examples carefully will soon see that behind a superficial appearance of simplicity there is concealed a perfect hornet's nest of bizarre and arbitrary usages. "
D - explicitly acknowledging what complexity is actually required for overt clarity is better than hiding behind the mock simplicity of a nat-lang (natural languuage).

D - while pondering how simple English could be made, I came up with the following 2 examples for a "lite" version.
1) YOUR. Your XYZ. the XYZ of you. Ergo, replace "your" with "of you". Also, "of" is quite vague, and does not clearly denote possession.

1. (used to indicate distance or direction from, separation, deprivation, etc.): within a mile of the church; south of Omaha; to be robbed of one's money.
2. (used to indicate derivation, origin, or source): a man of good family; the plays of Shakespeare; a piece of cake.
3. (used to indicate cause, motive, occasion, or reason): to die of hunger.
4. (used to indicate material, component parts, substance, or contents): a dress of silk; an apartment of three rooms; a book of poems; a package of cheese.
5. (used to indicate apposition or identity): Is that idiot of a salesman calling again?

2) QUICKLY. With quickness. This suffers from the fact that quick - an adjective- is the simplest form, while in many English words, the adjective is not the more basic form.

D - in summary, an attempt to rationalize an existing natural language, in this case English, rapidly suffers from a lack of mutual intelligibility with native speakers if it gets more than just superficially reformed.

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