English First - Nashville

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jan 12 17:05:36 UTC 2009

At 3:22 PM -0800 1/11/09, Dave Wilton wrote:
>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.

Why would that many be needed.  The claim reported by Wilson (not
that I'm endorsing it, or even that he is) concerns which country has
the most English speakers *after* the U.S., so the likely competition
would indeed be India, followed I assume by the U.K.


>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.
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list