For a time in the last century, and an even longer time in the centuries prior, European languages
dominated international communication. French was the global language of literature and diplomacy, German the language of science-technology, Italian the language of music, and
Spanish, the sometimes language of romance. Speak them appropriately at the appropriate occasion and you were considered civilized. Speak them not, and you were considered
provincial, back-water, second class, 3rd world.
Today, the Lingua Franca is English. Not the Queen's British English or the lyrically-melodic Irish English or the twisted-nose Australian
English or the potato-in-mouth American English. No, it is an international-English, what I like to call, Aenglish. It's a curdled stew of pidgin, business-speak, techno-speak,
Americo-grunt-speak, rap chatter, and the spitless mutterings of email, text messaging and all the rest of the internet's babble-lingo. There is no dictionary for it, no
guiding Academy, no usage horizon… unless you're a charismatic Christian speaking in 'tongues', which we all know dominates the twittersphere.
As air travel became the world's girdle, it was apparent that all involved, from pilots to reservation clerks, had to read from the same
page, an English page. When multi-nationalism became the marketing structure of the globe and the dollar became it's currency, English became its code. After the end of World
War II, with Europe and Japan in rubble, and China yet to heave its masses out of the countryside into the cities, American science-technology paraded across the surface of the
Earth singing in English. And then there was Hollywood, rock&roll, and television. It all said: "Move over." Or in pure body-language Aenglish: "Here's my
Travel anywhere in the world and you'll see, read and hear Aenglish, even if it's only a short-word vocabulary consisting of
'Helloh Mistuh', 'Wat you want', 'Hay Hansum', 'Tankyu', 'Byby'. If you're a Russian traveling in Madagascar, you're out of luck
unless you speak the local language or a few words of Aenglish. If you're a Chinese in Argentina, some Spanish please or just a little bit of Aenglish will do.
This planetary talk code is spoken fluently in many places and taught in many education systems, including America… but without the
background and underpinning of its mother-English: its syntax, Roman-Latin and Greek infrastructure, its roots. Thailand is a good example.
In the Kingdom of Thailand, English as Aenglish is prevalent… not quite a second language, but spread throughout signage and labeling,
with even short-word vocabularies among remote villagers. It's taught in many schools in the education system—taught by teachers who learned it from books and the
internet and from the very same classes they are now teaching. They seldom teach conversation, how to speak. The result is a strange phenomenon, awkward but interesting. It goes
Speak in English to most Thais, on the phone, on the street, in a shop, and unless you speak a little Thai, they will understand the Aenglish
parts, but that's all. If you write it out (print it out), the chances are they'll understand much of it. Why? Because they were taught to read and write, albeit, not too
well, but well enough. Speaking, rather "hearing speaking", remained a mystery.
Now, that's changing. The Covid pandemic and the TikTok epidemic are accelerating change. The Thai government and educational
institutions recently were on a high-horse campaign to encourage and insist that Thai students learn English and learn it well... read, write and speak. Their insistence said:
"In this 21st century, if you want to connect with the global community and its intersection with Thailand, if you want success and prosperity, if you want a piece of the
action and a piece of the pie, learn English!"
Interesting? Yes, especially given a history of slightly xenophobic cultural self-pride. But as they say, the handwriting is on the wall and
the signs are in the sky... and it's all in English. Let's hope that in the process the Land of Smiles doesn't lose its magic... something that even money can't