Do you speak my language? If you ask that question at ROSL, the answer will more than likely be yes. A quick tally of staff members here at the London clubhouse revealed that between us, we speak an incredible 32 languages, including some exotic dialects such as Doric and Cherokee. Add to that our hugely diverse international membership and you are more than likely to find someone with your native tongue.
With that in mind, we have dedicated the next issue of Overseas to the theme of language. Due to land on your doorsteps on Friday 1 December, take a look at the cover below.
That ability to converse easily with your fellow man or woman is one of the things that can bring us together and unite humanity. Equally, the way language is used can also divide us. Those two sides of the same coin are explored in this issue of Overseas.
One of the most obvious examples is its use in politics, where a well-delivered speech can rally the electorate behind your cause and turn the tables on your opponent. Enoch Powell’s famous 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, which discussed immigration to the UK used incredibly evocative language and made him one of the most divisive politicians in Britain.
Decades later and with the UK having voted to leave the European Union, in part because of continuing unease over immigration, the EU has exacted its own language-based revenge, threatening to remove English as an official European language, should Brexit go ahead. Abi Millar asks how this may not mean English dying out on the continent, but instead giving rise to ‘Euro English’.
The current refugee crisis in Europe, which has seen millions flee to our shores because of the ongoing conflict in Syria, has provided fuel to this fire for anti-immigration politicians in many EU member states. But from a linguistics perspective, it has also given rise to a number of fascinating hybrid languages, like Euro English, which have grown out of immigrant communities as they attempt to integrate with the local population.Ross Davies speaks to world-renowned linguist Ghil'ad Zuckermann about their growth and variety, from widely known examples such as Chinglish to lesser-known dialects such as Belgrano-Deutsch.
Many may see these halfway houses as a terrible bastardisation of language, but from its earliest incarnation thousands of years ago, to modern street slang, the evolution in the way we communicate has been around as long as language itself, not that some quarters would have you believe that. Several countries devote entire government departments to the preservation of their national language and its perceived correct use. Miranda Moore looks at how this prescriptive attitude towards the written and spoken word came about.
However you choose to communicate, be it British English or Flemish Dutch, hieroglyphics or emojis, rest assured there’s someone who will understand you. Read it all from Friday 1 December online or in print.