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Imprisoned in EnglishThe Hazards of English as a Default Language$
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Anna Wierzbicka

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199321490

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199321490.001.0001

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From Ordinary (Anglo) English to Minimal English

From Ordinary (Anglo) English to Minimal English

(p.185) 14 From Ordinary (Anglo) English to Minimal English
Imprisoned in English

Anna Wierzbicka

Oxford University Press

This chapter, which concludes Parts I to V of the book, argues that if the historically shaped Anglo English is distinguished from the Minimal English embodied in NSM English, then English does not need to be a conceptual prison for anyone. On the contrary, in its “mini” version it can serve as a common auxiliary inter-language for speakers of different languages, and a global means for clarifying, elucidating, storing, and comparing ideas. Such a mini-version of English, trimmed to the bone and detached from the culture-specific conceptual heritage of “Anglo English,” can be seen, the chapter argues, as “Basic Human,” and can fulfill a vital role in today’s globalized and English-dominated world. In his introduction to a volume entitled Universals of Human Thought, philosopher Ernest Gellner (1981) wrote: “Unconvertible currencies are not suitable for trade.” As this chapter makes clear, a key characteristic of Minimal English is that it is “fully convertible.”

Keywords:   Minimal English, Basic English, Globish, Basic Human, moral universals, “a sense of right and wrong”, truth, postmodernists

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