I can’t lay my hands on the reference, but David Crystal has reported an increase in the use of informations by native speakers, as a result of its use by non-native speakers. The OED has 59 citations showing its use.

@Barrie England (link)

Recently, I posted a question hinting that the non-native speakers' request: "How do you call [it]?", was slowly becoming more common even among native speakers, even Barak Obama (one of the most eloquent orators in today's politics) used this construction in a recent speech held in Germany.

  • What expressions by non-native speakers are being used/adopted by English native speakers today?
  • How has global English affected “English as she is spoke” by BrEng, AmEng and AusEng speakers?
  • 9
    This may be too broad a question; you may wish to focus on grammatical issues, for example, and exclude loanwords. Otherwise we'd be here all day discussing how Romance languages infected and changed the Germanic Anglo-Saxon to form Middle English and then recount everything bat has happened since then.... For what it's worth, I think both "how do you call it" and "informations" are unacceptable and immediately (again, to me) mark the speaker as an ESL. – Dan Bron Jun 1 '16 at 10:15
  • 5
    Honestly, "How do you call it?" doesn't sound all that bad to me; it's like a blend of "How do you say ___?" and "What do you call it?" (Though I grew up in a family of immigrants, so it's possible that certain non-nativisms sound less bad to me than to others.) – ruakh Jun 5 '16 at 4:19
  • 2
    @ruakh thanks for confirming what is my gut feeling, but it seems many native speakers on this platform seem to disagree. As for Obama's speaking deliberately "like a learner" which was suggested by Colleen, I ... I... I'm lost for words. Germans are notorious for being extremely competent speakers of English, if the President had been speaking English to an Italian audience be certain there would have been an interpretor on stage with him. Although nowadays there are more Italians who manage (struggle) to hold a conversation in English than in the past. – Mari-Lou A Jun 5 '16 at 8:19
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    It's those damn Frogs, for whom informations is 100% correct. Poor ol' English has been suffering from their influence for centuries now. A particularly impressive onslaught occurred on and after 1066 AD. – Drew Jul 18 '16 at 20:00
  • 1
    You likely know of it already, but the Dictionary of American Regional English (daredictionary.com) is a gold mine of words and idioms that have been introduced into the English language in modern history, along with documented origin. It is a true word nerd companion and can be accessed via site subscription or five very thick (and heavy) volumes. – Gracie Jul 18 '16 at 20:49

This is a very broad question, even if we limit ourselves to changes within the last, say 20 years or so. I'll make a start, though, working from first principles.

Two extremes of learning a language are memorise everything independently and find general rules. The first can lead to difficulties with new words or contexts, while the second tends to generalise too broadly, leading to instances such as your example of informations constructed as a plural of information. Where a student is surrounded by corrective influences such as competent teachers, this can mature to generalisation plus exceptions, which tends to lead to greater fluency. In the absence of corrective influences, however, it is possible for instances of incorrect generalisation to become established in local populations. Over time, this can migrate further afield, particularly if those local populations become recognised authorities in some field.

A second tendency in learning new languages is word-for-word translation, leading to the how do you call it phrase, presumably borrowed from languages such as French, Spanish or German. Examples include various instances of 'ethnic-speak', such as Finglish (Finnish + English) and Chinglish (Chinese + English).

A third tendency is to simplify grammatical structures based on structures in the native languages. An example is the tendency of native Russian speakers to drop articles (a, an, the) in English. Of course, some languages have more complex grammar than English, but if the complexity cannot be expressed in English because English isn't sufficiently expressive in that way, then the complexity tends to get lost in translation (literally).

Putting these all together produces a simpler, more grammatically uniform version of English. That has been the tendency historically, and it is perhaps natural for this to continue in modern times.

  • As a matter of taste, I enjoy the richer vocabulary and interesting turns of phrase of the more traditional BrE, but popular opinion does matter when it comes to what's 'correct' English. – Lawrence Jul 21 '16 at 9:06
  • @Mari-LouA Given the breadth of the question, I'm not sure whether this answer is helpful to you. If it isn't, let me know and I'll delete it. – Lawrence Jul 21 '16 at 9:06
  • Two points: 1) ‘How do you call…’ is not necessarily borrowed from French specifically—it’s common in many languages (Spanish and German, for example). 2) Memorising everything independently doesn’t necessarily lead to a stilted command of the language—after all, that approach generally plays a far greater role in native speakers than in non-native speakers. There was a study that showed, for example, that Japanese speakers seem to learn every form of every verb independently and are unable to predictably create ‘regular’ forms of non-existing verbs. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 21 '16 at 9:29
  • Thanks @JanusBahsJacquet. Points taken and incorporated into my answer :) . – Lawrence Jul 21 '16 at 10:44

For the question:

What expressions by non-native speakers are being used/adopted by English native speakers today? --> There are certainly plenty of introduced words, but expressions tend to be more locality based rather than something that is globally accepted. For example, expressions can differ for say Japanese speakers living in Australia versus USA.

For the question:

How has global English affected “English as she is spoke” by BrEng, AmEng and AusEng speakers? --> I would say that even though there is a very large population of English speakers from countries such as China, India and other countries, to the extent that expressions such as Chinglish or Singlish are being used to describe the way these particular cultures use the language. However, it doesn't necessarily affect the way 'standard' English (i.e. American, British and Australian versions) has evolved.


How do you call (some thing) is not "an expression" and "English how she is spoke" is merely dysfluent, or non-fluent. Very simple.

There is fluency and disfluency. There are some forms (of the type Thanks God used by Spanish speakers in English or the French using the present perfect instead of the simple pas as a translation of the French passé composé into English, that are fluency mistakes. It is very unlikely that in English, people (in general) are going to start using Thanks God or say "It has rained yesterday" for "It rained yesterday". That said, borrowings (loan words) are another question altogether.

One interesting example one hears a lot from non-fluent speakers is with the verb get: "What time did they leave the house?" becomes something like: "What time did they get out of or get out from the house"? What do you mean by that? There wasn't a fire......

  • Do you get out of your car, or do you leave it? – hkBst Jul 22 '16 at 16:58
  • Modes of transportation: get out of a car. To leave it is something else. It means to depart from the place where it was OR to not drive somewhere in it. Modes of transportation: get off the plane or train (at a place or time or even if you are on top of the plane or train) – Lambie Jul 22 '16 at 17:04
  • So does there really have to be an emergency to get out of your house? – hkBst Jul 23 '16 at 7:18
  • He got out of the house before the fire or before nine. (to be able to leave or depart from a place or event) He went out of the house (room, building) into the garden. (to exit from some location or place) – Lambie Jul 23 '16 at 12:54

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