English First - Nashville

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jan 12 18:59:09 UTC 2009

At 12:05 PM -0500 1/12/09, Laurence Horn wrote:
>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.

Oops.  Just found this:
Apparently U.K. trails Nigeria, as well as India and U.S., even as a
first language.  I wouldn't have guessed there were 79 million
Nigerians who speak English as a first language.  On this table,
China comes in at 15th, with 10 million speakers of English as a
(non-first) language, basically tied with Spain.


>>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

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

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