English Is Overrated
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English Is Overrated.
There I said it.
I have been trying to write this article for the longest time but kept putting off. But finally after posting this article: Should Pidgin English Be Allowed In A Children’s Book? and reading some responses, I decided I have had it. English … and I mean American/British English is highly
fucking overrated. And here is why…
We live in a world where the word “selfie” has become an accepted word in the Oxford dictionary. “Selfie?” Think about that for a second. Let it digest. Let realization set in, that “selfie” is an actual dictionary word in the Oxford dictionary along with “twerk” and “google.” But when you say “sabi” or “wetin” people … people will accuse you of contaminating English.
So we isolate our English, we hide it or give it funny names like “broken” and “pidgin,” while we exalt others people’s English, not realizing that that English, the ones in the Dictionary that we worship are really other people’s “pidgin” wrapped around in a black and white shit wrap called a Dictionary.
I mean, have you ever asked yourself, who writes the Dictionary?
We kind of think of the Dictionary as this perfect book that should never be challenged. So we build our definition of speaking English around it, failing to realize that the American Dictionary or Oxford dictionary that we revere are written by ordinary individuals who take words as seemingly ridiculous as “selfie” and “twerk” and vote to add them to their Dictionary.
But we see our own words as inferior and run to the safe haven of other people’s Dictionary. Why don’t we have a Nigerian dictionary? Not a pidgin Dictionary, but a Nigerian dictionary that takes words such as “wahala” and “sabi” and put it in a dictionary along with their root definition and pronunciation! Why!
That’s why when I ask Should Pidgin English Be Allowed In A Children’s Book?, I hear people say things like “I don’t want to mess with my child’s English!” Huh! What English are you messing with exactly?
But sadly this is the Nigerian reality.
Say something silly or illogical … as long as you cover it up with proper grammar and a foreign accent to match… people will gawk at your intelligence. But, if you have something brilliant to say but you are not communicating in that clear sophisticated English, people will gawk at your stupidity even though they understand every single word you are saying.
Why is this so? Why do we have this dual standard when it comes to our broken English?
I am an Engineer by training and I have been blessed to work with people from all parts of the world Brazil, India, Italy, France and even Ukraine. And when they speak English … likely it is “broken” with bad grammar structure but we listen. All of us listen…because we know what they are saying makes sense but more importantly because we can’t afford not to. I mean if I can pay someone on elance with poor English to tell me the same thing for 10% of the price it takes to hear it from a British person…I will pay! Because 1+1, no matter what language you speak or what accent you say it in is always equal to 2.
Because 1+1, no matter what language you speak or what accent you say it in is always equal to 2.
And that is my issue with English, in that it allows people hide behind the language and weakens the ones that know what they are talking about but are too hesitant to speak up for fear or mockery. I have seen this happen time and again in my Engineering profession. But sadly that is likely not going to change. American or British English will always be at the forefront of everything in Nigeria.Unless…
Unless you and me make the decision to do like Engineers and focus on a persons knowledge rather than get distracted by how they say what they know.
The irony is that the language that will change the world in the next couple of years, will not even be English, or Chinese or French or any of those languages. The language that we need to be focusing on, the language that will change the world is the Programming Language. Yes that HTML, JAVA, C++ and all those other programming languages are what will define the future in the next couple of years. And unlike English you can’t BS the java language, what you see is what you get, if your code input is jacked up …. then your output will be jacked up. And sometimes I wish English was like that!
Just a rant … carry on …
PS: If you see any grammatical errors … just ignore.
Written By Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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