English First - Nashville

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Mon Jan 12 21:38:12 UTC 2009

Oops, I misread the claim as China having more English speakers than the US.
My bad.

The Wikipedia article says the 79 million in Nigeria are the figures for
those that speak Nigerian Pidgin, an English-based creole, as a first or
second language--not just as a first language. Of these, 3-5 million are
native speakers of Nigerian Pidgin. The article that is cited as the source
for the 79 million figure
(http://www.njas.helsinki.fi/pdf-files/vol15num3/ihemere.pdf) gives no
ultimate source for these figures, only saying "it is estimated."

(I would be skeptical of the reliability of some of the figures cited in the
Wikipedia article, especially those from Africa and other locales where
census data is questionable. But the figures all have source citations, so
they're probably about as good as you can get.)

Also, the 10 million figure for China excludes Hong Kong, which adds another
2.5 million English speakers to the total. If you add in Hong Kong, China
would rank 13th, between South Africa and The Netherlands. (The Netherlands
has a whopping, and unsurprising, 73% of the population that speaks English,
nearly as high as Canada's 75.7%.)

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Laurence Horn
Sent: Monday, January 12, 2009 10:59 AM
Subject: Re: English First - Nashville

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
>>English" to an absurdly low level, there is no way that there are more
>>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
>>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
>>environments that would be particularly favorable to finding English
>>speakers, but they were relatively rare. Once outside of Beijing,
>>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
>>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
>>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

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

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