"broken English"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Sep 20 22:38:49 UTC 2009

Not to deny the possibility you raise, but I suspect it was merely a simple
 way to express the idea that, "He's got a really strong accent and you may
not be able to understand what he's saying."

However, the usual practice nowadays is to provide subtitles.


On Sun, Sep 20, 2009 at 5:39 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at gmail.com>wrote:

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> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "broken English"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> In all probability, I doubt they were trying to extend the meaning of
> term. I don't really want to accuse them of subtle racism, but it's
> certainly what it sounds like.
> When I was a grad student at a math dept. at XXX, we had an incident
> where one student walked into the first class a couple of minutes late,
> took one look at the TA, yelled :"FUCK!!", slammed the door and left.
> Before the lecture was even over he was already at the department office
> complaining that his TA spoke broken English and he could not understand
> her and he wanted another class. The TA was Hawaiian and a native
> English speaker. Of course, he never actually heard her speak. There are
> similar episodes involving Moroccans and Turks in Germany in a couple of
> Fassbinder films (Ali, Fear Eats the Soul is one that jumps right out).
>    VS-)
> Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> >  Now it means "English spoken with a strong foreign accent." Before
> playing
> > the tape of a California  employee of ACORN defending himself
> > against alleged wrongdoing, FOX News warned that he would be "speaking in
> > broken English,"
> >
> > He did have a very strong Spanish accent, but his command of English
> syntax
> > and vocabulary seemed absolutely average to me.
> >
> > JL
> >
> >
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