International English

October 20, 2006

Felipe Fernández-Armesto's argument contains something of a contradiction (Opinion, October 13). On the one hand, he praises the English spoken by the Dutch in Leiden for its greater "respect for tradition" than the English spoken by its native speakers in Oxford. On the other hand, he points out that "the English the world speaks" is different from that spoken by the British.

The English spoken by its non-native speakers in international contexts is not an English that respects "tradition", but an English evolving in its own right, without regard for that spoken by its native speakers.

But Fernández-Armesto is spot-on in arguing that the British, with their inability to adjust their English in international communication and their reluctance to learn other languages, risk being left out in the linguistic cold.

Jennifer Jenkins
King's College London

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