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'Correct English' Takes on Wider Meaning
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The Global Language Monitor (GLM) recently published a report marking the Chinese influence on the English language.

English, as a global language, has been affected by the rise of China as it has been by numerous cultures around the world. China is responsible for such additions to the English canon of vocabulary as "long time no see," "Drinktea," "coolie" and "typhoon."

GLM president, Paul Payack, announced that Chinese and other words extracted from other languages have blended into English, greatly enriching its vocabulary. Latest estimates now suggest English contains as many as 986,120 words. Since last year, the GLM has added 20,000 new words to their database of English words, twice as many as last year. Chinese influence is responsible for twenty percent of these inclusions.

These "loan words" chart China's trajectory through history, a journey often reflected in the evolution of language. For example, certain words can be pinpointed to precise elements of ancient Chinese culture, such as Confucianism or the Four Books and Five Classics. Other influences have come from important regulations or social progression such as the family contract responsibility system, or from the social environment following China's reform and opening up.

The term "Chinglish" is used to describe the often unfortunate English grammatical errors found around China. A blog, written by a German living in China, Chinglish.de, laments China's clean-up of Chinglish logos in Beijing ahead of the 2008 Olympics, saying it marks the end of an era, rich in linguistic creativity. A young Dutch man even created Chinglish.com from Amsterdam to search for business opportunities tied to the Chinglish phenomenon.

(CRI February 15, 2007)


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