chinese is the new english

At some point, we've all gotten a kick out of sites like Engrish.com, which point out examples of poorly executed English signage in Asian countries. For the past 18 months, teams of "language police" have been scouring Beijing on a mission to wipe out all such embarrassing mistakes before the world descends on the city for the Olympics next month.

But what if these sentences aren't really bad English? What if they're actually evidence that the English language is simply evolving into an entirely different, alternative language without us? This Wired article offers a very interesting theory: How English Is Evolving Into a Language We May Not Even Understand.
Thanks to globalization, the Allied victories in World War II, and American leadership in science and technology, English has become so successful across the world that it's escaping the boundaries of what we think it should be. In part, this is because there are fewer of us: By 2020, native speakers will make up only 15 percent of the estimated 2 billion people who will be using or learning the language. Already, most conversations in English are between nonnative speakers who use it as a lingua franca.

In China, this sort of free-form adoption of English is helped along by a shortage of native English-speaking teachers, who are hard to keep happy in rural areas for long stretches of time. An estimated 300 million Chinese -- roughly equivalent to the total US population -- read and write English but don't get enough quality spoken practice. The likely consequence of all this? In the future, more and more spoken English will sound increasingly like Chinese.
It's a fascinating thought. With huge, growing numbers of Chinese continually learning to read and write English, but without enough quality spoken practice, the language could very well take on a life of its own... and eventually look very different from our "proper" version. Hey, it could happen.

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