I speak Globish

Written by on April 1, 2010 in Food and Miscellany, Notes By The Way with 5 Comments

I’ve been living abroad for years, and now I naturally simplify my spoken English to accomodate whoever may be listening. I filter out complex grammatical structures and choose simple words. Sometimes when I want to say something too complicated to express in simplified language, I stop as if lacking the language. Or I switch to Japanese. The same thing  happens in writing if I know the audience are not native English speakers. The difference is more pronounced in Cambodia. The language of Cambodia, Khmer, doesn’t have verb tenses. When speaking to shopkeepers and tuk-tuk drivers, they understand better if I keep all verbs in the present tense. This naturally spills out in more and more conversations in Cambodia.

On my last trip, I discovered it took a conscious effort to speak like a native English speaker. Rather, simplified English is becoming my default.

Now I have a word for what I do: globish (global English). Do you speak it?

Globish is a “decaffeinated English” that is increasingly becoming a widely used international language. (h/t Kottke)


About the Author

About the Author: Andy Gray is a writer and photographer living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and working with Alongsiders International. You can find him puttering around the streets of Phnom Penh on his Suzuki Viva 125, running stoplights and driving on the wrong side of the road or on the sidewalks like a local. If you see him in a coffee shop, he'll be the one typing and deleting the same line over and over again. .


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  • Globish reminds me of another project called “Basic English” Unfortunately this failed, because native English speakers could not remember which words not to use 🙂

    So it’s time to move forward and adopt a neutral non-national language, taught universally in schools worldwide,in all nations.

    As a native English speaker, I would prefer Esperanto

    Your readers may be interested in the following video at http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=_YHALnLV9XU Professor Piron was a translator with the United Nations in Geneva.

    A glimpse of Esperanto can be seen at http://www.lernu.net

  • Wow, Khmer sounds like it’ll be easier to learn than Japanese!

  • Term Globish is used differently.
    Refer index page of above website and note (e) therein.
    That would clarify 2 Globishes. Thank you.
    You can see Glimpses of Globish (Parallel English, neat spellings)
    via a hidden pdf.

  • Refer indexpage of (www.mngogate.com)
    and note (e) therein.
    That would clarify 2 Globishes.
    A hidden pdf opens to show Glimpses of Globish (Parallel English, neat spellings)
    Also see E01, E02, biodata on website. Thanks