Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Who owns the English language?

It is obvious that English has its origin in Britain. It started out as one of low-profile European languages. As the British Empire prospered, English also spread across the world. It has been spoken as one of the official languages in the former British colonies since then. After Britain had lost its power, the United States overtook the dominance over the world. Even though there's signs of American power decreasing, US is still the world's most influential nation in terms of technology and international regulations.

Historically speaking, British people used to be Caucasian people with their distinct culture. However, the characteristic has got blurred because of the large scale introduction of immigrants from the rest of the world. US began its history as British colonies. Even after its independence, US was a country where white people are dominant for many years. But now Caucasians are increasingly becoming a minority - its population has been largely replaced by people other than Caucasians such as Hispanics, Asians and Africans.

Therefore, we have to be aware of the fact that, even though Britain and US are still the leading countries in the English speaking world, many members consisting of them are no longer traditional "white" people. English is becoming a global language, which is now spoken by many different people with different backgrounds.

Usually a language is spoken in a certain cultural context. English is not an exception. English is still strongly associated with the cultures of Britain and US. As a Japanese person, I find some difficulty in accepting certain aspects of the British or American culture. Probably, if English wishes to be a truly global language, it should be more culturally neutral. Or it should be tailored to the situations of each region where it is spoken. For example, English should be customized to accommodate the needs of Japanese people when it is spoken in Japan. New vocabulary and expressions should be added to English depending on the English users' demand.

It's important for us to have a recognition that English is not "theirs" but "ours". Although I am not a native English speaker, I am still entitled to use it to convey my ideas to the people across the world. In order to keep it possible to communicate with many different people, I should use a standard English. However, the standard English itself should be determined by the needs of all the people in the world, but not by only those of the people in the English speaking countries.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I wish I could read English as fast as Japanese

I have been studying for US CPA(Certified Public Accountant) exam for one month. It would take a several months before I pass all the four subjects(FAR, BEC, REG and AUD). I use Wiley textbooks. The four textbooks have more than 3,000 pages. Each page is printed in a very small font, which makes my eyes very tired.

The content is difficult. But a bigger problem is my reading speed. It takes too much time to finish reading one chapter in a textbook. I have been studying English for many years but I can't read English very fast. It is not quite comfortable to read long complicated English sentences.

This is a depressing fact. My native tongue is Japanese and it is only hindrance to master English. This is a situation very different from when a Dutch person tries to learn English, for instance. Since Dutch is a close relative of English linguistically, the fact of being a native Dutch speaker does help to have proficiency in English. Being a native Japanese speaker does not. The ways of thinking are so distant between English and Japanese. That precisely explains why so many Japanese people are still struggling with improving their English skills after a tremendous amount of effort to learn it has been made.

As economic globalization penetrates across the world, the influence of English language is significantly increasing. No matter how you hate it, you can't avoid using English in the international business context. Japanese people incurs a great disadvantage in this situation because their lack of proficiency in English is inherently caused by the influence of their native language, Japanese.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Preparing US CPA exam

I am currently studying accounting. I am planning to sit for US CPA exam in May 2010. The reason why I am studying accounting is not that I want to audit the accounts of company as a certified public accountant. I would like to understand more about corporate finance to help more IT ventures grow in Japan.

Japanese economy is now in a great slump. Japanese economy has two bottlenecks, which are the labor market and the capital market. The both markets lack vivid dynamism. In order to rejuvenate the long-stagnated Japanese economy, we need to activate these two markets. I would like to help grow a healthy capital market in Japan ... eventually.

Of course, I have to confess that I would be rewarded monetarily if I succeed in the financial market. Greed can do a good thing in the market. That has been a common belief among economists since the age of Adam Smith.