Saturday, December 17, 2011


One of my coworkers said that the Chinese for "English," 英语, applied only to the language spoken by British people—"It's only for British people"—something he wielded like an accusation, really, toward a native English speaker, like meaning to not include her as a real English speaker, like her language wasn't hers, wasn't what she thought it was. True enough, there's a word for "American English," 美语, which is cool, on the one hand, but it's always frustrating when this accusation, often slipped into a conversation that has nothing to do with the differences between these two Englishes (as though there were only these two)—as in this one, which was just a conversation about the right way to pronounce 英语—like we North Americans (yes, because one of us is Canadian, and unfortunately, for her, she gets lumped in with us, as American) don't speak the official language. And so we don't know the language as well as other English speakers? And so we're cheating our students?

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