WorldView: A Language Blog

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WorldView Good Reads: Off the Press for March 2019

Published: March 26, 2019

Here are good reads from around the globe that caught our attention during the month of March. 

Is Computer Code a Foreign Language? No, and high schools shouldn’t treat it like one, says Michael Egginton, a professor at Johns Hopkins University.

 A Danish word the world needs to combat stress: Pyt. Danes are some of the happiest people in the world, and they also happen to have a lot of cool words for ways to be happy. You may have heard about “hygge,” which has been the subject of countless books, articles and commercials. Often mistranslated to mean “cozy,” it really describes the process of creating intimacy. But another word “pyt” – which sort of sounds like “pid” – was recently voted the most popular word by Danes.

Working globally requires unlearning, as much as it requires learning. In our working lives we often interact with colleagues, customers and business partners with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, whether from around the country or across the world. How can we avoid letting cultural differences and communication challenges get in the way? Darren Menabney says it is as much about unlearning than learning. First thing to do? Drop your common sense.

Why Making Mistakes is Good for Language Learning. Many language learners are hesitant about making mistakes. They want to be sure what they might say is ‘accurate’ before opening their mouths. But mistakes are the engine of a language’s evolution. Better to try your emerging language skills and be wrong from time to time than to remain silent for fear of not being ‘correct.’

Brits and Americans No Longer Own English. The language doesn’t belong to the Anglosphere any more, says Leonid Bershidsky, who learned English in the former Soviet Union so he could understand rock song lyrics, watch Hollywood movies in the original, and read books that weren’t available in translation. Overall, the market for English in education is predicted to grow by 17 percent a year to reach $22 billion in 2024. That, in large part, is thanks to insatiable demand in Asia. “Euro English” is becoming a distinct dialect with its own quirks. Around the world, non-native speakers rely on English to communicate with each other, without native speakers in the conversation.

Pete Buttigieg: Why Would an American Learn Norwegian? Americans are much less likely to speak more than one language than people in other parts of the world, and the same holds true for their elected officials. But language skills have begun to be more discussed in U.S. campaigns; the BBC reports on how multilingualism is playing out on the campaign trail. 

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