History Repeats, Again!

History Repeats, Again!
History Repeats, Again!

Monday, April 4, 2011

English Rocks!

English, the ugly-duckling lovechild of a tense three-way union between Celtic, German, and French way back in 1066, is now the world’s flagship language of commerce. 

Why? Because learning English is easy—like driving the Spanish highways—no rules, only exceptions.

More importantly, it’s practical. A simple experiment reveals that English is more efficient than its three mother tongues. Counting the letters in “no,” “nein,” and “non” shows that using English conserves letters by a factor of two.

Mankind’s relentless search for efficiency routinely leads multi-national corporations to adopt English as their official idiom because fewer key strokes are needed to transmit unambiguous messages like, “To help reduce costs, your job will be moved offshore … tomorrow.”

A book printed in English requires fewer pages than its translation into any other language with the possible exception of the whistling tongue of La Gomera Island.  English saves tons of paper and millions of trees.

And English nouns have no need for sexist articles doting slavishly upon over-sensitive adjectives. Unlike the testy masculine and flirtatious feminine nouns in the appropriately named “romance languages,” calm, egalitarian English nouns don’t chafe against gender stereotypes. The politically correct ancient Germans tried to fix this and just made it worse. Hoping to reduce counter-productive sexual tension among nouns, Germans added  a futile “neuter” gender which, eunuch-like, confuses all and satisfies none.

By speaking English you can say more with fewer breaths. In dialogue-heavy French cinema, tightly crafted English subtitles typically finish long before the film ends. Why do defiant French film makers hold so desperately to their je ne sais quoi?  Why do French directors refuse to add the essential car crashes, fight scenes, and expensive special effects sequences needed to buy time while their ponderous dialogue catches up with the terse subtitles? Even tradition-bound British filmmakers have embraced English and gratuitous chase scenes.

But the real reason to learn English is so you can fully connect with humanity’s crowning cultural achievement: Rock and Roll.  As the universally acknowledged “Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World,” The Rolling Stones are in a position to choose any language on any planet for their official tongue. But when Mick’s lips pound out emotional, untranslatable poetry like “…yeah, yeah, yeah…. whoo!” and “I can’t get no! No, no, no! Hey, hey, hey! That’s what I say!” only English can do the trick.    

French may be the language of love, and German  may have a slight edge in heavy metal,  but rock-and-roll clearly works best in English. Thanks to pop music, five centuries of western culture have been distilled down to three guitar chords and clean, repetitive patterns that can accommodate even the shortest of attention spans while leaving plenty of time between tunes for commercial announcements.

 (Adapted from "The Expat's Pajama's: Barcelona by R.S. Gompertz
Available  wherever fine e-books are sold!)

1 comment:

  1. Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da! You nailed it on the Rock and Roll point! Different strokes for different folks, and so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby - as long as it's in English.