May 25th, 2010

(no subject)

One of the amusing ways I have come up with to think about what one might call language environments is to think of them as subtitled films. The language environment as I think of it includes both actual printed signs as well as conversations.

In that framework, I offer this progression:

United States:
English, with Spanish subtitles in specific areas.

English, with Chinese subtitles. Occasional Malay and Tamil subtitles, but you should not rely on them.

Hong Kong:
Chinese, with English subtitles which are generally spot on.

Chinese, with intermittent English subtitles of varying factual and/or grammatical accuracy. As you travel away from the big international cities these subtitles gradually fade out until in the countryside, all you get is Chinese.

Some other places, for comparison:

Anglophone Canada:
English, with French subtitles.

New Brunswick province:
English, with even more French subtitles.

French, with English subtitles.

South Africa:
English, with Afrikaans subtitles. Subtitles in IsiNdebele, IsiXhosa, IsiZulu, Sesotho, Setswana, and the other four official languages are very intermittent and should probably not be relied on.

Western Europe:
local language with fairly consistent English subtitles.

Malay, with English subtitles.

Thai, with English subtitles.


This is a framework I've come up with because it amuses me, not because I take it particularly seriously.