(Ch)Inglish gets a life of its own

As the use of English as language of global communication is on the rise, an increasing number of conversations in English happen between non-native speakers.

English is the second most spoken language in the world, and it is estimated that by 2020 native speakers will make up only 15% of those using or learning the language.

Photo: The Chinglish Files by olr

According to Wired magazine the massive numbers of Chinese speakers using English in daily life is leading to an English of the future which will take on more and more aspects of Chinese translation quirks. Others believe that Chinglish’s days are numbered.

With increasing use of English as lingua franca between different nationalities (as opposed to conversations with at least one native speaker), it was inevitable that the ‘international English’ used would evolve into a pared down, simplified version of the language. And a native speaker in a room of non-native speakers has to adapt or risk not being understood by the rest of the group.

It remains to be seen whether Chinglish will grow in strength or blend into other versions of ‘international English’ as China-based English speakers come into contact more and more with the outside world.

Read more:
Next week we will be posting an interview with Oliver Lutz Radtke, author of the book Chinglish: Found in Translation. (Read the interview here)

About the author

Lucy (Liz) Chatburn
Lucy is English and first ventured out of the UK she was 19. Since then she has lived in 4 different countries and tried to see as much of the world as possible. She loves learning languages, learning about different cultures and hearing different points of view.
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  • Thats pretty understandable. English have ruled every part of world . However , i believe in next 50 years , some other computer language can overpower English.

  • indeed. I have for a long time doubted the origin of “long time no see” . it must come from Chinglish. but I can’t abide Chinglish-my motto is the old saying”when in Rome,do as Romans do”.so if sb learns English, he must try to be as native as possible.
    since there’s Chinglish,I don’t doubt the existences of Arabinglish,Spaninglish and whatnot. gee if things go on like this,maybe decades later we will have no cultural differences-for the cultures may have long been a hodgepodge.

  • I can understand how Chinglish comes about though.

    For example imagine I am working, and one day I discover I need to speak Mandarin for my job. It will be very difficult for me to speak natively however hard I try, just for lack of time.

    I agree it will be interesting to see how much the different versions mix in the future.