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April 14, 2005

Speak English Only as the English Speak It

There was an interesting letter to the editor in yesterday's Daily Yomiuri entitled "English should be spoken only as the English speak it." As it is not available online, I'll reproduce it here:

"Is there a language called American English? In my opinion, no! Why? English is the native language of England and not America. So English not spoken the way the natives of England speak is English spoken with a different accent or dialect.
If you say that everyone in the United States speaks American English, then everyone in India speaks Indian English, and the number of Indians speaking English is more than the total population of the United States.
One may argue that there are spelling and pronunciation differences between American and British English, but that is no reason to change the identity of the language. The inability of speakers is not the fault of the language.
Each language comes with a long history and the culture of its native land. The English language was not developed over 200 years like the history of the United States. The English language has a history that goes back more than 1,000 years. So adding a new identity to a language with history and culture is disrespectful to the native land of that language.
The bottom line is this: English is the native language of England, and it should be spoken like the natives of England. Any other form of English is not a new language, but a variation of English, and it should be referred to as "English spoken with a different accent or dialect." English spoken in the United States should be referred to as English with an American accent like the English spoken in India that is referred to as English with an Indian accent.
Let's not adulterate a language and own it by giving it a new identity. Learn it the way it is supposed to be used, and if you cannot learn it, deal with it but don't destroy it." - Fusun Yu, Shanghai

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