English First - Nashville

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Sun Jan 11 23:22:30 UTC 2009

I too disagree. Unless you lower the standard of what qualifies as "speaking
English" to an absurdly low level, there is no way that there are more than
300 million English speakers in China. That's one third of the population.

Personal observation: when I was in Beijing, we had to use an interpreter to
communicate with wait staff in restaurants, even those that catered
primarily to foreigners. (Hotel staff, on the other hand, pretty much all
spoke English.) Interpreters were a must in most business meetings. I was in
environments that would be particularly favorable to finding English
speakers, but they were relatively rare. Once outside of Beijing, Shanghai,
and Hong Kong, I'm sure the percentage of English speakers drops
precipitously. Compare this to Europe where most service workers in
metropolitan areas speak English quite well (even Parisian waiters, who
choose not to) and where business professionals virtually all speak English
pretty much fluently.

India, on the other hand, I would be more inclined to believe, but even
there, 300 million would be a lot.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Benjamin Barrett
Sent: Sunday, January 11, 2009 2:56 PM
Subject: Re: English First - Nashville

I find this difficult to believe. It would surprise me if it weren't
the case that applying the same criteria to the US would find that
America has the largest population of French speakers in the world.
After all, we do say adieu, double entendre, prix fixe, moi?, etc. BB

On Jan 11, 2009, at 11:58 AM, Wilson Gray wrote:

> Not to mention that English is the (foreign) language of choice
> world-wide. Isn't China reputed to be the largest English-speaking
> country after our own?
> -Wilson
> On Sun, Jan 11, 2009 at 9:00 AM, David Metevia <djmetevia at chartermi.net
> > wrote:
>> From today's NYT:
>> http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/us/11english.html
>> Councilman Eric Crafton hopes to make Nashville the largest city in
>> the
>> United States to prohibit the government from using languages other
>> than
>> English.
>> I don't understand the concern as we will continue to be an English
>> language country as long as the majority of the population is
>> monolingual.

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