English is the best language

Why English is not suitable as a world language

Men and women of the world speak English these days. It's so much easier, nicer, friendlier and, on top of that, more gender-neutral than German. Or maybe not?

Whoever rules the world also knows the language. When the Greeks were still at the controls in Europe, they coined a separate term for everyone who did not speak ancient Greek: barbarians. The Greeks were followed by the Romans, who were far from finished with their Latin even after the crumbling of their empire, and today we have the superpower USA with their English on our necks. Despite the change, the same applies then as it does today: Anyone who does not speak the predominant world language is considered a barbarian.

Now it is good and right to agree on a common language for the cross-border exchange. After all, you don't want to have to rely on an interpreter if you just want to ask for directions to the nearest toilet. Whether English is really an "agreement" or just the answer to the question of who has the biggest atomic button on his desk, I'll leave it open.

But now I keep making attempts to justify the predominance of English with a general linguistic superiority over German. I take up some of these arguments here. And as the title suggests: If it really is these arguments that qualify English as a world language, then this article explains why English is NOT suitable as a world language.

Languages ​​are not funny or pointless per se.

In a discussion I actually read the pseudo-argument once, German is "pointless". Of course, you can hardly refute that factually, because it is completely subjective. But I think it's similar to ice skating: As long as you're constantly with friends falls on your bum, it's quite fun. But if you then seriously try to get to the professionalto catch up with athletes, it becomes too serious work and therefore comparatively pointless.

It is very similar with foreign languages. When someone taught me a few first Latin words, it was still great. "Fenestra" means "window"? Yes, it's easy to remember! I still know after twenty years. I had never used the word more than to use it to refer to a spider on the living room window. But when I had to learn vocabulary books, declensions and conjugations by heart and apply them to texts by Ovid and Pliny that were thousands of years old, Latin was suddenly no longer so funny.

In English, most people just don't realize how bad they actually are. If it is only a second language for most of the communication partners, then you do not have the same yardstick as with the mother tongue. It is not for nothing that the saying exists "The most widely spoken language in the world is bad English."

Whether one perceives a language as pointless can also depend on in which form they are consumed. If you only watch dubbed versions of US productions on television - and that is what the entertainment program consists of for the most part - German naturally seems bumpy. Conversely, it is just as bumpy when you watch animes that are dubbed in English. A translation can rarely keep up with the original version - exceptions prove the rule. I can hardly imagine Austrian cabaret in English either.

Shorter = harder to learn.

On the other hand, it can be said quite objectively that English formulations shorter are as Germans. And that is always given high credit in the language. Wrong - I think.

If brevity is so desirable, the question arises why we don't use Kanji, the Chinese characters, instead of phonetic transcription. So you could say a lot more with a lot fewer characters. If you've heard of Kanji, you might be screaming right now: “Yes, but there are thousands of them. How are you supposed to memorize them all? ”And yes, I agree with you. The key point is only: You don't get the abbreviation in English compared to German for free.

The German is often criticized for word monsters such as motor vehicle liability insurance or synchronization conflict resolution. (I recently created the latter for my work time record.) The advantage of such compound words but is that they are simply deduce to let. You could also simply call the motor vehicle liability insurance Krafag. But no one who doesn't use this word stubbornly by heart has learned, will then still know what we are talking about. In English this is the normal case, as I demonstrate with the following mess:

EnglishGerman
pigpig
wild boarwild boar
warthogWarthog
swineDomestic pig
porkpork meat

Yes, English has a lot of really short words. But what use are they to you if you don't know the vocabulary and you can't logically derive it? German is often and rightly called complicated because of the grammar. But in the end, when someone mixes up articles, that's a much smaller problem than if they don't even begin to understand whole words.

Shorter = more difficult to understand.

Short expressions have a second problem: they are prone to failure. As one learns in the basics of information theory, one must always expect interference with the transmission of information. Fortunately, with digital texts like this one, it rarely happens that entire letters or syllables are lost. But to my chagrin as a passionate writer, German and English are spoken languages ​​- primarily intended to spoken to become.

And when speaking and listening are gross disturbances in everyday life. Accents, radios, noisy neighbors, a shootout in front of the house, ear wax plugs in the ear canal ... something always contributes to the fact that the listener does not receive everything that the speaker wanted to say. If words in all their crispness consist of only one or two syllables, nothing intelligible is left.

At the Christmas table it is easy to confuse “pork” (“pork”) with “fork” or “dork” (“dork”). To misunderstand "pork", however, a lot has to go wrong. Maybe that's the reason why there are people who think German is pointless - because you can't call your cousin an idiot at Christmas dinner with impunity.

English is a mumbling language.

German is often presented as a particularly aggressive language on the Internet, which is also reflected in various memes. This is of course a very subjective criticism, especially since German sounds very different depending on the region, regardless of dialects. As a Viennese, when I speak according to the Scriptures, I still sound different than someone from Berlin who speaks according to the Scriptures. And I think the prejudice affects Berliners more than me, as there are similar clichés here in Austria for Germany north of the white sausage equator.

What leaves a language but now aggressive sound? The linguist Lisa Davidson picks out the emphasis on the letter R as an example. This is a letter that to my ears in English only exists in theory, not in practice. Conversely, if a clear and precise pronunciation is considered aggressive, then English is a language that mumbled becomes.

In my English class at grammar school, I once wanted to describe a cat as "important". Since the "r" is more or less swallowed and the "a" in English is pronounced more like an "e" in German, the cat was ultimately not "important" but "impotent". Besides my classmates, even the otherwise dry teacher couldn't help but laugh heartily. Only I couldn't laugh because at the time I was apparently the only one who didn't know what impotence was. But there was one thing I had already thought to myself at the time: "Yes, English is a damned slush language!"

As I said at the beginning, that's it again subjective. As in German, there are very different pronunciations in English. Scots and pirates also like to use a rolling »r« - at least in various television clichés. The fact that German is considered aggressive is probably due not least to a historical figure with a Charlie Chaplin mustache.

English pronunciation is inconsistent.

Even if there is no mumbling and the sound quality is impeccable, English can still be difficult for inexperienced listeners to understand because from the written form can often difficult to conclude on the pronunciation. In German, the most frequently used letter, the "e", is actually always the same sound, with the exception of dwarves and foreign words. In the English word “men” the “e” is pronounced as it is in German, with “here” on the other hand like a German “i” and sometimes not at all. And these two terms are not exactly what you can call fancy foreign words.

Yes, maybe there is some systematic here too that I have not yet figured out. But if this has not yet become clear to me after more than twenty years of language use, it either does not speak very much for the alleged simplicity of the English language or I have a huge board made of German oak in front of my head.

Anyone who thinks that the "e" is always swallowed at the end is wrong again. With the - admittedly not so commonplace - words "Apache" and "adobe" it is pronounced again. About the Adobe company of the same name, which publishes the popular programs Photoshop and Dreamweaver, among other things, a web design instructor once said to me: »It is actually pronounced 'Aedobi', but when I do it in German, it makes me laugh out."

In English, you don't use the Duke.

That will be very happy English said that it was so relaxed and friendly because all by you are with each other and there is no you. After all, you already learn in school to translate "you" with "you". On closer inspection, this is not true at all, because the "you" is actually more of a "you":

singularPlural
1st personIwe
2nd personyou/youyou
3rd personhe she ityou
singularPlural
1st personI.we
2nd personthou /youyou
3rd personhe / she / itthey

If you look at the comparison, the "you" corresponds most closely to the ancient form of the Yours, as in the formulation: »Please give me more beatings, Father! You missed a spot that isn't quite blue yet. "

The correct English du is "thou", but it is largely extinct today. With a few exceptions, it is only used when something is deliberately intended to sound outdated. For people who speak German as their mother tongue, however, wording with "thou" reads strangely familiar. For example, "you love" becomes "thou lovest" instead of "you love".

The distinction between you and she is missing.

Now one can say: “It doesn't matter whether the“ you ”is really a“ you ”, a“ you ”, a“ your ”or something else. The main thing is that there is only one shape left today. You have to deal with that don't worry about how to address someone. "

But unfortunately that's not true either. How you address someone is very important in English. Only today this address is generated by various appendages that seem rather strange in German. "Sir, yes, sir" in various military films and even more pasties is certainly the most striking example. Woe to yourself if you talk to someone you respect in English and end up "Sir" or "Ma‘am" forgets!

Maybe it just seems like that to me, but I also generally get the impression that people in English are much more common addressed by name become. Of course, you have to distinguish whether you are using the first name or surname - or maybe even an abbreviation or a nickname. This is ultimately the same as the distinction between you and you.

Maybe that's where the impression comes from that in English almost everyone is per Du. Abbreviations like Bill, Bob, Dick and Mike seem to be the norm in the USA. Or have you ever heard of William Henry Gates III, Richard Bruce Cheney or Michael Gerard Tyson?

"There is nothing people like hearing their own name as much," someone suggested to me in a workshop last year. At least I think it was in a workshop. Maybe it was just a comment about Donald John Trump (- without the abbreviation - "Don John Trump" sounds too much like Long John Silver).

For my part, I have always found it practical to be able to talk to people and, despite not naming them, to be able to say a little something about distance, respect and closeness. If only because I have a terrible memory of names.

English is not gender neutral.

Universities are the refuge of the dead gendered language. Again and again I read from students whose theses are supposedly not even accepted if they do not comply with all the bizarre formalities of the gender fetishists. But just as often I read from those who think they are particularly clever that they do their work Write in English anyway, where this whole problem doesn't even exist.

The word “actor” was given as a very specific example. That can mean both "actress" and "actor" - a really great thing! Yet »actor« is one of the stupidest examples that can be given here. With »actress« there is also an explicitly feminine form of this word. There is practically no difference between "actor" and "actress" from "actor" and "actress". The German Word "actor" can equally for both - or even more - genders be used. But that's exactly what language feminists fight with all their might.

The only difference is that in German there are the articles »der«, »die« and »das«. And many people now imagine that anyone named "the" for some reason must be a man. The articles have absolutely nothing to do with biological sex. Conversely, "the person" is not necessarily a woman just because "she" is in front of it.

But even if it were different, the advantage in English would only last for a very short time. If you only want to refer to a person just mentioned one sentence later, you are faced with the problem of whether you can call this person "He" or "she" must denote. And in contrast to the German articles, it is difficult to disguise the biological gender here, because these two words only refer to men and women. A cake server that is male in German is not called "he" in English.

In case of doubt, either generically "he" or the word "they" is used, which otherwise actually represents the plural. This then results in sentences like "They is a doctor", which even many native speakers seem grammatically incorrect and is therefore controversial.

Generally speaking, men are the dominant gender in English. The English word "Man" namely not only means "man", but also at the same time "Human". Accordingly, "humanity" is called "mankind". Apparently there was no longer any room in humanity for women.

It is also interesting that it is for Women in English not one, not two, but the same three different forms of address gives: "Mrs.", "Miss" and "Ms.". The first two forms differentiate between married and unmarried women, just like "Frau" and "Fräulein" in German earlier. But while we did away with this discriminatory nonsense simply by deleting "Fräulein", the third form "Ms." was added as a neutral salutation in English.

Now I would have liked to have spelled out the words "Mrs." and "Ms." here in the text. The problem is, even though they look like this, they're not abbreviations at all. As the Oxford Dictionaries explain, "Mrs." originally stood for "mistress" ("Herrin", "Meisterin"), but has broken away from this meaning and is now a separate word with a different pronunciation. "Ms." can even top it and stands for nothing, because it's just an artificial mish-mash of "Mrs." and "Miss". Again, the pronunciation can therefore only be learned by heart.

Conclusion: English also only cooks with water.

So English is good as a common language for all countries suitable? No, definitely not. The brevity is not only spicy, but also a lot of pepper and language is less suitable for speaking than for writing.The personal address is not as casual as you might think and the German Binnen-I is only exchanged for a strange alternative.

With that I want the other way around not saying that another language would be better. In this article, I just wanted to refute a few alternative facts that wrongly praise English in the sky.

I don't have a sufficient overview to be able to really relate a single foreign language. Of course, as my mother tongue, German has a clear sympathy bonus, but I still believe everyone that at least German grammar is more difficult to learn than in English. As a third language, I could at best refer to a few more years of teaching Latin. But apart from a few pseudo-intellectual sayings, there isn't much left of that. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Actually, I am only happy if English remains the predominant language. Then at least I don't have to relearn. Yes, I am selfish and lazy. Of course it would be nicer sometimes if the whole world spoke German. But if that were just as poor German as is the case with the now predominant English, it would hurt my soul. I love the German language too much for that.

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  • Muvimaker

    Dear Mr. Treml!

    Your article was balm for my wounds, which result from increasing "Zwangsbeduzung", from "Deppenapostroph", "Schnodder synchronizations" and similar crimes against the German language.
    Except for a few small mistakes - already mentioned in the comments - I can endorse all of your arguments.
    I am not afraid that English will become a world language (as it is already as good as it is in my opinion), I am much more dreaded that the German language will become more and more brutal and that our beautiful language will eventually only be a gibberish . Riddled with Anglicisms, it is - strongly supported by the Internet, and there in particular via forums, blogs and social media - on the best way to rot in the direction of written colloquial language. This development is favored by the increasing laziness of many people and the ever-present auto-correction of text systems, mobile devices and the like. It is no longer written correctly, you just click or tap on suggestions. Since it has to be done quickly, the texts are rarely read for proofreading, but instead end up unchanged on the Internet. It even goes so far that people speak to each other in written dialect - an interesting, albeit terrifying, development. Fortunately, German is such a complex language that speech input systems have not yet been able to establish themselves on a broad level, but once this is really the case, who will write, and above all who will still be able to do it?

    But I don't want to digress too much. What led me to your article was a simple query to my trusted search engine (no, not the one with the "oo" in the name): "Why is Photoshop using you again?"

    You will surely have already recognized the reason for my comment: It happens more and more often that software of any kind suddenly addresses the user with "You". I don't want to mention the infamous "hello" here, that's a different story, you could live with that. But the "you" is clearly going too far.

    Google started doing this to the best of my knowledge. In the search query dialog it is now standard, but there is still a lot of restraint when it comes to important legal issues, but that is only a matter of time. Then Apple followed suit on the Mac. In the last few versions of the system, there is no longer a "you". The fact that the employees in the shops are so outrageous anyway and address you with "You" is one of the reasons for exclusion for purchasing a product from this manufacturer. At Microsoft, it will probably only be a matter of time before you come up with the idea that Windows users are a big family who definitely don't want to be together anymore ...

    From now on your article will be presented in a completely different light. We are international, so English, without you, because in this language there is only the "you". It is absolutely logical that you have to act in the same way on the German market, so in the future we'll be on the terms of each other. The fact that a "you" has to be earned first because, in my opinion, it is a sign of trust is another matter. This is also a sign of our times and, in my opinion, a loss of dignity, appreciation and respect. It would never occur to me to address a stranger with "you", but today's generation already assumes that. If you make these people aware of this, you will for the most part receive incomprehension, and in many cases even an insulting response.

    Another argument in favor of the increased "you" would be: It is much easier to have a conversation by "you" than to talk to your counterpart. The lower the level of education, the easier it is to use "you" in language. Even if the sound gets a bit louder, people tend to use their name on the other hand, especially when using strong expressions. Or would you scold someone and say "Well, you might be an A ..... oh!" say?

    I mentioned synchronization at the beginning. Here, too, I noticed that not only has the quality of speech decreased a lot, terms are also translated completely wrongly in many cases:

    Makes sense = makes sense (instead of makes sense)
    Place = place instead of place
    find him = find him (instead of looking for him)

    These are only three examples (I can think of more at the moment, but there are special pages on the Internet that only deal with such errors), but these errors have already found their way into us, for example "branch finder" instead of "branch search".

    Finally, there remains one of my favorite phenomena - the idiot apostrophe. PC's, CD's, Info's and, to top it off, words like nicht's and Monday's - often written with accented characters as the icing on the cake. But that is another chapter and to express yourself here would go beyond the scope of the comment.

    I love my mother tongue, but I also appreciate the English language. I cannot influence whether the latter will develop into the final world language, the chances are not bad. I could even live with it. However, the development of the German language makes me very sad. It is not doomed, but it is still important to maintain it and, above all, to use it correctly. As long as there are people like you who are obviously doing this by not only having the appropriate style but also worrying about it, there is still hope.

    Many thanks and best regards
    Muvimaker

    • Michael Treml (site operator)

      Reply to Muvimaker:

      Thank you for this detailed comment!

      I am pleased that you are commenting on this article, although my form fields also use them. Admittedly, it was always a difficult question for me to decide whether I should say "du" or "Sieze" my website visitors by default. Basically, I finally decided on the Duzen, because that's probably the form that most visitors expect. When I address specific people in the comment area, however, I always first take a look at which form the respective visitor is using himself.

      From my first long-term employer, I was also strongly influenced by you. Since I'm basically a somewhat distant person, I've never had a problem with that. Only later did I slip through my computer science studies and start-up ambitions into a professional environment in which the you predominate. That confuses me to this day.

      It used to be clear to me that you apply in the work environment and with strangers. But now there are people who are downright offended when you hear them. I therefore have the impression that the intention to abolish you only leads to the ambiguity that this action is actually intended to combat.

  • Rene Neumann

    Loved her article
    Maybe it will be a language that everyone has something. The internet could make it work, and words are developing that most people don't even know where they came from. E.g. Mobile.

    • Michael Treml (site operator)

      Reply to Rene Neumann:

      The planned language Esperanto, which Walter mentioned very briefly and concisely below, has at least influences from several European languages. Such planned languages ​​have so far not really caught on, but maybe in the future there will really be a natural convergence of languages ​​through permanent online networking. But I expect a process that will take centuries.

  • Anonymous

    The article doesn't convince me at all, the reasoning is so-so. Seems like someone is writing who simply has an antisympathetic attitude towards the English language.

    • Michael Treml (site operator)

      Reply to anonymous:

      The comment doesn't convince me at all. The reasoning is absent. It seems like someone is writing who simply has a sympathy for the English language.

  • Yessica

    I found your opinion on the subject really interesting, but some of your points are really problematic for me. First of all, just for context, I don't know anything about your life, but I assume that you have never lived in an English-speaking country or otherwise use English every day, because this sounds a lot like a comparison to the German one Language, which has nothing really to do with the world language.

    First, I'll take your point about the lack of you / her in English. It is not at all true that the "you" is more like a you (or even the old your-form). If you can find enough tables on the net, you can get the idea that you can even chat with friends and family in English-speaking countries. But you no longer live in the times of Shakespeare. To Germans or others who use a formal form of you / you in their language, it sounds unnatural, as if something is missing in the language. But you hardly ever use a you / she in Japanese, and if you do, it's the same word no matter who you speak to. The main thing is that it is easier not to have to worry about whether you should be using a person's name or using it, or if you should make the change. You use you for everyone, which is really easier and doesn't sound rude or weird at all once you get used to it. Is it really that hard to address a sir ma'am or just by name? You also pronounce names in German. And if you just don't want to, you don't have to do it in English. No matter what the films say, I myself don't address my American friends by their first names more often than in German.

    Well, secondly, I'll agree with you that a lot of similar words aren't really alike in English, and that isn't always practical. But it is also not practical that the words consideration, caution, oversight, respect, and opinion all have the same stem but all have very different opinions. That can probably be discussed.

    Well then. Oh, by the way, the Chinese characters are only called Kanji when they are used in Japanese texts.

    I don't think English is the best language in the world myself. For example, you don't use articles in Japanese or Chinese. How much paper is used per year for the words der / die / das, le / la, or the? But when it comes to languages, the writing system is too complicated for me.

    The world language should be a language that is relatively easy to learn as a second language. That means, no articles (German, French, Spanish, etc.) that are purely memory work, no complicated conjugations (hello, genitive, dative, etc.), no impractical characters, and so on. English is not a perfect language, maybe in 500 years Chinese will be used as the world language, with Roman characters. But I would rather accidentally understand "fork" instead of "pork" at the dinner table than memorize thousands of items for every word.

    • Michael Treml (site operator)

      Reply to Yessica:

      First of all, thank you for this detailed comment, with which you also address a few good things! You are of course right about Kanji. I didn't write that correctly.

      Regarding the world language, however, I find your statements a little contradictory. On the one hand, you define it as an easy-to-learn second language; on the other hand, you assume that I should have lived in an English-speaking country for a while or that I have to use the language on a daily basis.

      No, I have never lived abroad for longer, but as a computer scientist and future start-up founder, I also move a little in an English-speaking scene. Precisely because this scene is composed so internationally - a world language should actually be suitable for this - everyone has their own accent, which makes the already short English expressions even more incomprehensible.

      It is true that it is difficult to distinguish between you and you. But at the latest when you have to address someone in English by their first or last name, you have exactly the same dilemma again. Of course, you address your American friends by first name, but do you also do the same with bosses, doctors, strangers, etc.? I also find it interesting that you are bringing Japanese into play here, of all places. To the best of my knowledge, on the contrary, there are many more forms of politeness, some of which influence the entire grammar - and woe if you do not bow deeply enough to greet a respected professor!

      But that with the forms of politeness certainly also depends a lot on the environment in which you move. If you can only communicate with each other with your hands and feet, most native speakers will turn a blind eye.

      The fact that you are not perceived as yours today may well be true, but to attribute it to this you do not need to find "enough tables on the Internet"; you need a basic understanding of grammar. Of course, nobody will perceive it as yours when there is no longer a common alternative to it. You are right here that I am mainly referring to the comparison with the German language, because people are calling for the abolition of the Sie - but not the Du - again and again, referring to English. From a historical point of view, this demand is wrong and, from today's point of view, it is at best arbitrary.

      Regarding consideration, caution, supervision, respect and opinion: These words are not all that different in meaning, but as you already say correctly, they can be discussed.

      Regarding unnecessary articles and complicated conjugations, I agree with you, a little less for "impractical characters", because the basic alphabet is only an arbitrary consensus - an Ö is per se no more impractical than a B.

      Yes, confusing fork and pork can still be quite funny, but that was just a pointed example. If all the other words in the sentence are just as misleading due to their brevity, then one or the other misused article is ultimately the lesser evil ...

  • Andrei

    How can I sign this? What can we as EU citizens do against English?

    I don't want our children to be forced to learn English. I come from Slovakia. In our countries (Slovakia, Czech Republic, ...) you waste a lot of time and money on English because you think it is a simple language. The money (for textbooks, etc.) goes to England, of course, with the English and Americans having the worst foreign language skills. They speak to me in English on the street, of course, without thinking that they are not in England.
    I could also provide many examples of how bad English is as a world language. For us, German is no more difficult than English because it has similar rules (case system, duzen / siezen, etc.) as Slovak, Czech, Polish or similar.

    Perhaps now is the right time to do something where Britain is leaving the EU.

    • Michael Treml (site operator)

      Reply to Andrej:

      Actively doing something against English at EU level would be a bit excessive. As far as I know, there are several official languages ​​in the EU institutions themselves and if most of the world has at least a rough command of a certain language, I do not consider that to be a mistake - just do not persuade yourself that the language in which one has agreed there, is superior to others.

      I think the best thing you can do is to lead by example yourself by learning your mother tongue well and using it confidently. Even small things often show that one is not subordinate to oneself. For example, I've gotten into the habit of pronouncing my own name in German even when I introduce myself in English - conversely, nobody would think of pronouncing Michael Jackson or Michael Jordan in German.

  • Walter

    • Michael Treml (site operator)

      Reply to Walter:

      I know and I even started to study once.Given US independence alone, I would always prefer Esperanto to English. In the end, however, I didn't have enough motivation to teach myself more than two standard sentences.

  • Vaddern

    Pork is easy, but goose meat mo die Diere zuochn?

    • Michael Treml (site operator)

      Reply to Vaddern:

      A goose at the Christmas table is even more sophisticated than the pig. You don't even have to interrogate yourself to feel offended. According to dict.leo.org, "goose" can also mean "stupid goose" or "stupid".