Full Circle David Crystal The Future of Englishes

hello like the way he's looking at me yeah well thank you it's a delight to be here it really is and are you aware that there's a Twitter storm going on at the moment pointing out that that there's me here and there's also Marks and Spencers coming somebody has started this from here I don't know who it was right thank you it's out there it's all over the place now Marks and Spencers are furious about this being upstaged in this way oh dear anyway thank you full circle yes wow what an organization I've never been in a club like this before I've never seen one like this before so if I were to say to you that full circle refreshes the parts that other clubs do not reach how many of you recognize that illusion interesting everybody over a certain age yeah it's true because it was some of you will think it's simply a metaphorical expression of some kind but no of course it isn't if you are over that certain age or have a grandparent who was over that certain age who has told you about this you will remember that it was a slogan of Heineken in the 1970s the longest-running advertising slogan in English advertising history the original one was Heineken refreshes the parts that other beers do not reach the idea behind it was simple Anakin thought that if they could persuade everybody to buy their lager they could do so by telling everybody that it would improve your mind would improve your body you'd become a better person generally it refreshes the parts of the body and the mind that other beers do not reach and it was hugely successful it lasted for over 20 years as a slogan in Britain and anybody growing up in the seventh season 80s will remember it because it was part of everyday life it was headlines people would play with it in The Guardian and newspapers like that and it then died away of it and then it came back for a second run in the 1990s and still is part of linguistic consciousness now now the way that they made it last for 20 years was by playing with the slogan of course it wasn't the same slogan all the way through this is how it started it started with situational comedy so for example in one of the earlier campaigns you saw a three part poster in the first part there was a man looking glumly at his back garden he hadn't looked after it the grass had grown up to here the lawnmower was rusting in the corner in the second set poster he paused the logger into the lawnmower and in the third poster the lawnmower mows the lawn by itself with him sitting back of course and drinking another can of lager Heineken refreshes the parts other beers do not reach the parts of the lawnmower in that particular example that's how it started what's that got to do with language nothing but after a while they decided to make it a linguistic joke and what they did was they looked for words that could replace the word parts beginning with P and having one or two syllables in that sort of way so for example a little later there is now a three part poster campaign but this time in the first poster you see the hero of Treasure Island Long John Silver he is standing there only he has had a bad time you know he has a wooden leg it is fractured you know he has a crutch to help him around that to is broken you know he has an eyepatch the elastic is broken and it's hanging down over his cheek you know he has a hook for a hand it's broken you know he has a parrot the parrot has had a heart attack and is lying over his chest he is not in a good way in the second picture he drinks the lager and in the third picture now he's standing there with two wooden legs two crutches two eyepieces two hooks the parrot has turned into a vulture and the slogan now is Heineken refreshes the Pirates other beers do not reach you get it Heineken refreshes the parts Heineken refreshes the pie ruts that's how it started for 20 years they punned on the word parts you think there aren't that many words in the English language to allow it hoho there are a little later the bird drinks the lager in another scenario the slogan now is well you know it already Heineken refreshes the parents other beers do not reach a little later the person who drives an aeroplane gets into trouble drinks the lager you know what the slogan is now the pilots other beers do not reach it went on and on and on like that my favorites is the voiceover on a television campaign that was done I forget where and you can see it on YouTube it's around still where you see an eighteenth-century gentleman looking over a lake and you hear the voiceover saying I can't remember it exactly but it was something like this I went down the road with my phone oh dear oh dear no no no out I went today in the Vale no dodo oh dear and then you hear look and then you hear I wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o'er vales and hills where all at once I saw a crowd a host of golden daffodils and the slogan is Heineken refreshing see poet other beers do not reach wonderful the daffodils for those of you who don't know this is a poem you have to learn in a British primary school at the age of about 2 and it sort of last you forever you never never forget it Wordsworth's poem so here we are a slogan and all its linguistic variations now what does that got to do with the future of English and the future of English is well let's fast forward now some years from where was it be about 1978 70s early 80s and I'm now teaching on a summer school in somewhere London Hank and I have a group of Japanese teachers of English who have come to this summer school and we're going out on the streets looking for authentic English and we find it all over the place and we pass a poster and it's the one about the parrot Heineken refreshes the parents other beers do not reach they stopped in front of this poster and they look at it and then as Japanese do when they're confused they talk at a million kilometers an hour to and I say excuse me your problem your problem and they say please Heineken Refresh parrot what what is it now here's a group of English teachers who understand the sentence no question the grammar they have understood it they were able to pronounce it they were able to spell it they knew the punctuation of it they knew every word in it and yet they did not understand it why not obvious isn't it because they don't know the cultural background of that particular sentence and I had to explain to them like I just did to you how it came to be and the story of the future of English in a nutshell is that Heineken story because as English has become a global language now spoken by over 2 billion people around the world in places where you would never have dreamt of it turning up and becoming either the first foreign language to be taught there or if not the first definitely the second and spoken by increasing numbers of people as a first or second language you'd never have thought that it was going to stay the same and indeed you would not have anticipated just how much it was going to be different and the reason for the difference is and nothing to do with linguistics really it's all to do with culture as the language arrives in a particular place people adopt it then they immediately adapt it to their own cultural background and as you travel around the english-speaking world this is what you find you find cultural adaptations everywhere and these are the this is the Heineken problem writ large if you like it's an example I went to New Zealand I get off the plane going into the city and so on with my guide and I see the year right campaign you know about this first what is yeah right well you know some things happened and you say oh yeah right yeah right it means that's rubbish that's ridiculous no it didn't happen come on stop pulling the other leg and all the rest of it Yeah right gotta get with the right intonation of course for it to make that negative kind of impact so it's a common phrase in the English language I get off the plane and we go into the city and there I see a billboard and it's from tui beer this time not Heineken tui which is a New Zealand bird and it's the name of a very popular beer in New Zealand and the book the Billboard says you can't hear the wind farm from here and underneath it says yeah right I say what's this all about he says it's the right campaign what is the right campaign well apparently there are ads all over New Zealand at the time and they're still there by the way in which you make some sort of fatuous statement or some sort of obvious statement and then underneath you go yeah right I thought ah this is lovely I find some more examples in fact I didn't need to look for the examples we simply went into a bookstore and the campaign is so famous there is a book of all the year right posters that there have been there are now two books of yeah right posters examples from around things like the cheque is in the post yeah right of course I remember your name Yeah right one careful lady owner yeah right for that one of course you need a little bit of cultural background you have to know that it's a phrase associated with buying a second-hand car which has had only one careful lady owner and therefore is going to be in lovely condition yeah right so I was assimilating this new campaign and as we turned around another corner I saw let Paul fly you there yeah right I'm now in the position of the Japanese to English teachers I look at this let Paul fly you there I turned to my guide what does this mean he falls over in astonishment what this means no what does it mean who's Paul who's Paul you don't know who Paul is no I don't know who Paul is tell me who Paul is I had no idea I was in exactly that Japanese tourist with the difference that I'm a native speaker of English and here's my language on a poster and I don't understand it something odd is going on here I asked he explains turns out this is Paul Holmes he is the voice of breakfast radio and television in New Zealand or at least was at the time so whichever country we are in or come from there is somebody you know reg you listen to them every day you might even call them by their first name whoever it might be in Britain it might be I - no no Jeremy Paxman or John Humphrys or some famous name like that in Britain but outside are these people known anywhere you know but - you there with you every day now this is Paul Holmes he's apparently so well off or was that he bought an airplane and he flew from A to B and as he landed crushed it and survived he bought another airplane and flew it from C to D and then crashed it and survived so let Paul fly you there yeah right now I understand I understand and looking at those two books of collected year writes containing all together I suppose about couple of hundred I understood only about half of them the other half were so culturally specific to New Zealand that I had to have an explanation in order to understand them now New Zealand is not alone everywhere you go in the english-speaking world this is what's happening at the moment and has been for quite some time now I got at South Africa all right there we are British Council driving me around we're going down the road there's a sign coming up robot ahead I turn to the driver robot ahead what's this he nearly goes off the road he says robot you don't know what the robot is I said no what's a robot robot it said he could hardly articulate it do you know yes a robot is a traffic light that's all it is local word for a traffic light in South Africa and also Zimbabwe and one or two of the other areas around traffic light so people use sentences in South African English like you know the robot is broken turn left at the robot you'll see it three robots ahead for me I thought you know have they landed idea that is one of how many words in South African English are now distinctive to that variety you can get the dictionary of South African English it's that's it it contains about 10,000 words and idioms but our idiosyncratic to South African English either because they're loanwords from British English like robot which incidentally started in in Lancashire and wrote traffic lights were first invented back in the 1920s it travelled to South Africa but to no other part of the english-speaking world why not I have no idea anyway at about ten thousand words of course a lot of them are loanwords from the other languages of South Africa from Afrikaans and Zulu and Kosar and all those other languages and the dictionary is quite big and that dictionary is now one of dozens of dictionaries as you go around the english-speaking world so go to the Caribbean and you hear you get the dictionary of Jamaican English which contains 15,000 words and idioms from local expressions of one kind and another not many of these make the newspapers but they're still part of the everyday life of that particular part of the world wherever you go where English is spoken you see that immediate adaptation this is the future of English's if you like they're calling them English is now English is plural oh I was in a hotel in some part of southern Europe once and I come into the hotel lobby and my talk which was called the future of English's was stuck up above the reception in letter-by-letter stickies you know th e fu T and it said the future of English and I said to the manager said it's not called that it's called the future of English is and he looked at me in horror and said it cannot be there is no such word I said no there is there is really I wanted cultured no there is no word I said yes there is can I have my ending please yes and he goes ok it's in in the office I expect and he goes on to the tannoy and says to his secretary who's listening upstairs presumably you know professor Cristal has lost his ending please send professor crystals ending to reception please and sure enough I thought my ending was fine but but he brought certainly an E and an S comes downstairs and stick them up and I'm a happy chappie now because of that mmm wherever you go these differences are culturally important then people tend to neglect them they tend not to recognize them for what they are the reason is that when you are when your language is culturally influenced because it's so everyday so routine you don't even notice that you're saying something that is culturally so idiosyncratic that anybody from outside that culture will not understand it the distinction between native and non-native speaker is irrelevant here you know it's not just foreign as you see who have trouble with English here its native speakers having trouble going to new zealand and not understanding what's going on I first discovered this without realizing how important it was when I first went to America and so I'm in my hotel area in America and I go downstairs to have some breakfast and I go to the to the cafe next door no sorry the diner and stand in a queue no a line in order to get my breakfast and I guess the guy comes up to me and says what do you want and I say can I come and have some eggs and this is the 1970s he says how do you like your eggs and I had no idea what to say no idea at all it wasn't a British question you see and in those days one did not get us that sort of question then so I looked at him and I said um cooked and he looked at me and said hey buddy where are you from and I said I'm from Wales and he looked even more puzzled and said what Wales is that near Russia I said you know yes he said he thought it was a communist then I think I'm not quite sure anyway he then rattled off to me look buddy you can have them once over lightly sunny-side up and went like that now I know you know 20 30 years on you'll get that question you can answer it more Britain or virtually anywhere so you know times have changed I still have trouble with American sandwiches though you know if you weren't asked for a sandwich and Mayo I didn't get the first 30 words I don't know what's in the sandwich I've just been given so anyway that kind of culturally specific influence has always been around in American versus British English as much as anywhere else but multiply that by all the places in the world where English is now being used and you see now the extent of the problem and as I said before people don't realize what they're saying when they do these things I've made quite a collection of these culture specific things as I've traveled around here are a couple from British English so that you can sort of clue yourselves in things you might say without a second thought which can be extremely confusing to anybody who doesn't share your cultural background oh gee it was like Clapham Junction in there please it was like Clapham Junction in there now to understand that you've got think how much you've got to know you've got to know a that Clapham Junction is a railway station in South London be you've got to know that it is the most complicated railway station in the history of British Rail with more platforms going in more directions than any other station and when it goes wrong it goes catastrophic ly wrong as it did just a week ago to say it was like Clapham Junction in there means it was totally chaotic in there okay now you're a translator you're an interpreter and you're politician says it was like Clapham Junction in the meeting this afternoon how you going to translate that what is the equivalent in your language of Clapham Junction is there a rail is it MIDI here I probably haven't gone through it last night I'm not quite sure but I mean is there an idiom in your language which is anything similar or do you have to kind of rephrase the whole sentence in order to get at it this is an example of what I mean by a culture specific thing that one takes for granted one to think twice about it oh this watch hmm it's more Portobello Road than Bond Street what am I saying more Portobello Road than Bond Street if it were Bond Street it would be a really swish watch wouldn't it because Bond Street if you know and I suppose most people do is a very upmarket Street so the watches are going to be high-quality but Portobello Road how many people in the world the english-speaking world know of Portobello market where the watches are likely to be replicas and probably will break very quickly after you buy them who knows maybe they're good quality these days but the point is I'm making a cultural contrast there what is the equivalent in Brussels of Portobello Road and Bond Street is there an equivalent would one routinely say something like that I don't know but imagine a situation where I'm now talking to you in English about Brussels you will drop that kind of thing into the conversation without a second thought and me being a polite guy will just sort of say you know oh yeah yeah sure yeah yeah and what the heck is she talking about I have no idea what what is Portobello Road you you know that's the thing sometimes you actually because you want to be affable and social you will make a remark and realise you've said the wrong thing so now I'm in the Czech Republic this time in a little town near the border called in the South called who Heskey radish G and I'm at a film festival and afterwards I'm talking to a couple of guys about the festival they're from the Czech Republic but they're up we're all speaking English and one man says to the other well they'd not met before where do you live and he says such-and-such a street and you have a man-sized foot I'm amazed I live in that street - really says the first one what number do you live up so three hundred shall we see the other one says well isn't that extraordinary I live at 302 and I say so you can wave at each other every day then haha and they go No I think God said you know how the idea of their wives falling out you know what one I say well I mean you see you see each other going off to work in the morning at least no and I'm feeling Oh God you know I just shut up then and let them carry on later I asked my host what did I say wrong and he explained can any of you guess what did I do wrong what have I not understood culturally to do with streets and street numbering in that part of Europe and maybe elsewhere then oh yeah see we're used to a contingent situation aren't we if we live at 300 then 302 is either next door or across the road I mean that's the way it is in Britain and the way here - yeah I mean you'd expect so but not ya with exceptions but not there their house numbering depends on when the house was built and registered so number 300 might have been built at that end of the street on January the 1st 1906 number 301 might have been that end of the street number 302 might have been that end of the street and so there's no reason on earth why they should be able to see each other every morning and wave to each other it simply wasn't something that was in their conceptual makeup and I got it horribly wrong not anymore of course so this is what I mean by cultural development of this kind and the thing is that it it's very understandable how this kind of thing developed when you think of the way in which English has become a global language over the past 50 years 60 years only English has been a global language forever no no in the 18th century in the 17th century in the 16th century English was being given no future at all Richard mulcaster head teacher of merchants school in London writes in 1582 that there is no reason for anybody in the world to know English it is of no use he says beyond our shores why would anybody want to learn it anyway it has no literature what a bad year to be saying such a thing 1582 when Walter Raleigh is planning the first of his expeditions across the Atlantic and eventually of course it comes out as Virginia and 1582 now we don't know very much about this but in November 1582 a young man from stratford-upon-avon got married that we know he then went to London and presumably to be an actor on the stage the theaters were closed because of the plague so he started to write poems and then if you believe the latest research he spent one night with Gwyneth Paltrow and as a result wrote Romeo and Juliet which is amazing though understandable so some people say they would do the same Shakespeare of course changed the course of English literature so within a hundred years or so people were beginning to study English now because a it was beginning to be global it was established in America and B it had a literature to die for not just Shakespeare of course but the whole period in question and you get the concept of esp coming to the fore English for Shakespearean purposes that's an in-joke for English teachers 400 years on the situation has changed dramatically two billion people speaking English around the world but the statistics of everybody in the world speaks English I put into the shade there by that aren't they I mean the Sun at one point you the Sun newspaper at one point had a headline which said you know everyone in the world speaks English now well a third of them do and you don't have to go far off the beaten track before they find the people who don't but still that two billion is interesting because when you break it down into first language and second language and foreign language these are the statistics that you get I should qualify this by saying never believe anybody who gives you statistics about language anybody because nobody no country keeps accurate language statistics in censuses and the if they do they're very general and they're not very precise so I'm going to tell you now how many people speak English but don't believe it well what I'm going to do is I'm going to tell you the best guesses that people make how many people speak English as a first language as a mother tongue father tongue if you prefer parent tongue if you don't like either of those about 400 million or so only about 400 million some people say it's a bit less some people say it's a bit more it all depends on whether you count under that total the various pidgin and creole english is around the world where people are not quite sure whether they're english or not well how many people speak english as a second language that is in a country where it is an official second language of some kind about sixty countries around the world do this the answer there is again nobody knows but it must be six hundred million seven hundred million maybe more it all depends what's happening in India in India something like a third of the population are supposed to be able to speak English these days that's over 400 million people that's more than the entire native speaking population of the of the world so say six or seven hundred million and in the other countries of the world where it's simply a foreign language like Belgium and everywhere else in Europe virtually and South America and Central America and China I mean China is the big player here now how many people speak English in China nobody knows in the early 2000s I said it was about 200 million and they said they were going to double that figure by the time of the Olympics so they probably did who knows but the British Council whom god preserve say that at any one time in the world there's about a billion people learning English in some shape or form as a thousand million that includes everybody from beginners to advanced so if we allow say two-thirds of them in as competent speakers of English then we've got 400 million plus 6 or 700 million plus another six or 700 million there's your 2 billion you see more or less the important statistic to note is that for every one native speaker there are now five non-native speakers that's the statistic to note so the center of gravity has shifted in the last 50 years from people like me who have English as a first language to people like many of you who have English as a second language or foreign language and this has huge implications straight away what it means is that as you travel around the english-speaking world you see these new varieties of English growing up very very rapidly indeed the reason is all to do with identity let's do a quick thought experiment you're in charge you're in charge in Nigeria when Nigeria became independent what do you then do to show your independence linguistically you will not want to keep with English none of the colonial X colonial nations wanted to keep the language of oppression as they saw it but you're in charge in Nigeria so what are you going to replace it with you look around you you see four hundred and fifty languages which one are you going to choose you choose that one they will not like it if you choose that one they will not like it it's a recipe for disaster and so most countries not all but most X colonial territories like this well um we better stay with English then better the devil you know at least everybody hates it equally and then the magic happened they adopted English and then they adapted it in other words as soon as they took on the language in their independent ethos they started to change it quite consciously by the way I wrote you know I was around in those days and I was in charge of a project called a dictionary of english-speaking peoples and I wrote to every newly independent nation that had English as a historical language and asked them are you doing anything in relation to making English your new language and they all wrote back the universities and so on they said of course we are and that's where these dictionaries of South African English and so on come from you see because at the beginning they were saying yes we are going to make it our English now it was a quite conscious process to develop a local identity through chiefly vocabulary and to a smaller extent grammar and pronunciation chiefly vocabulary and as you go around the english-speaking world now this is what you encounter straightaway not just the scenario that I mentioned a little while ago of all right but in perfectly routine situations you've all had this experience I'm sure you go into a restaurant in some part of the world and you say can I have the English menu and they give you a menu and you look at it and you say sorry you can have the English menu and they say that is the English menu and you can't understand it because all the local foods and all the local drink is not translatable and you have to learn that back on culture once again in order to understand what's going on and you only have to think about what culture means in these environments in order to see the extent to which a vocabulary of thousands can grow up very quickly not just food and drink but myths and legends fauna and flora the political situation oh yes the political situation David hates Nick what does that mean who are we talking about Tories and Lib Dems what is that all about I mean just think of all the vocabulary of politics that relates to your part of the world all the nicknames all the abbreviations and all of that you can quickly see how that vocabulary builds up when you go around the english-speaking world just for the last couple of minutes of the talk it is mainly vocabulary but don't ignore grammar grammar does occasionally turn up to have local differences here and there it's not such a big deal pronunciation is the interesting one let me just end with the formal part of the talk whether it's a comment on that because when you go around the english-speaking world what you notice is not just the standard English and the standard accent which makes us all understand each other you notice also the local dialect the local accent which expresses local identity and so as you go around the english-speaking world what new accents are emerging and there is one particular feature I want to draw your attention to and the reason why I do it is because it's actually very difficult to read up about this thing in any book you can't easily read about accents can you in a book even no one tries and it's the change in rhythm that is so noticeable around the english-speaking world these days English traditionally has what's called a stress timed rhythm ttang ttang ttang ttang ttang it's the heartbeat of English poetry it's Shakespeare it's grey the curfew Tolls the knell of parting day t-tom T Tom Tita that's stress timed rhythm because the beats the stresses fall and roughly regular intervals in the stream of speech if you've learnt English as a second language you've probably had drills teaching that to you the other kind of rhythm of course is syllable timed rhythm which is ratatata Pat okay so if I now start to speak English with a certain type of accent you will understand me straight away in fact that this is typical French typical Spanish there are lots of languages where it's ratatata now no English speaker until recently ever had that syllable timed English but as you go around the english-speaking world now this is what you're increasingly hearing and not just from foreign learners but from people who have learnt English right from the very beginning you'd call them native speakers even though it might be a second language context and they now speak English in a syllable timed way so if you go to South Africa and you say to somebody there where are you from and he says I'm from South Africa he doesn't say I'm from South Africa he might do there are some people who speak like that but if he's Afrikaans for example he'll say a from South Africa I'm from South Africa let that bet bet bet that go to the subcontinent of India and virtually all of those 400 million people will speak in a syllable timed way they will not say the consequences of what I'm saying are very important they will say the consequences of what I am saying are very important the consequences of what I am saying of they're really important it's rad and of course the famous case the one you might think is that ever going to influence English you think well maybe maybe not in the long term it might do but the variety that has influenced English already amongst young people at least is from the Caribbean we're rapping and hip-hop our syllable timed English they do not say they're most of them you know I'm from Jamaica t-tom t-tom TZ I'm from Jamaica let that man know it is rocket artistic are you looking at me there's very serious sort of way there but you know this cat what's happening around the english-speaking world is that this kind of new rhythm is becoming the norm in so many places and so if one looks at the future of English and in the discussion there are all kinds of other aspects of this that I haven't yet a time to go into like the technological side of things and so on but the thinking ahead I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that in 50 years time or a hundred years time anybody giving a lecture to full-circle will have a very staccato syllabic kind of rhythm and it'll all sound very very different thank you very much