"Broken English"

selene18

Member
Venezuela, Spanish
Hello,

can anyone tell me what consists on "broken English"? I was once told I had an "Interesting Broken English" and I don't know for sure whether it's a bad or good thing.

Thanks in advance for the help!
 
  • VenusEnvy

    Senior Member
    English, United States
    "Broken English" means gramatically incorrect English. If someone told you that you had "Interesting broken English", it could be his/her way of telling you that your accent is cute. Sometimes, when broken English is spoken by foreign speakers, it can be pleasant or endearing to listen to.

    I hope I've been clear. I also hope that others give their opinions...
     

    selene18

    Member
    Venezuela, Spanish
    I see.

    But that person was foreigner too, so it's kind of strange. Anyhow, thanks for the help =)

    However, I forgot to add... It was referring to my "writen" English ....
     

    VenusEnvy

    Senior Member
    English, United States
    selene18 said:
    But that person was foreigner too, so it's kind of strange.
    Hmm, I agree that it's a bit strange coming from another non-native speaker. Does this person speak English extraordinaryily well?

    Nonthess, I hope what we've said has cleared up your doubts.
     

    VenusEnvy

    Senior Member
    English, United States
    selene18 said:
    No, and that's what I mean.... And what's funny, as I said, it was referring to my writen English
    Oh, it didn't refer to your accent when you spoke?? Hmmm, rather odd. It might be that this person was being a little rude by calling your way of writing "interesting"..... Selene: It's difficult to tell you exactly what this person meant without having been there.
     

    selene18

    Member
    Venezuela, Spanish
    Let me explain you =)

    I write stories, and this person read them. What he/she said exactly was:

    I'm not only attracted to your art,but your fanfictions as well.
    First time I've ever read such interesting 'broken' English

    ('fanfiction' are what we call "stories")

    Indeed, I felt kind of uneasy when that person told me this, and since then, the question wandered through my head.

    If it's necessary, I'll show you a text written by me (I'll put it in the proper section, that is) and you will let me know.
     

    VenusEnvy

    Senior Member
    English, United States
    selene18 said:
    Let me explain it to you =)

    I write stories, and this person reads them. What he/she said exactly was:

    I'm not only attracted to your art,but your fanfictions as well.
    First time I've ever read such interesting 'broken' English


    ('fanfiction' are what we call "stories")
    Ohhh, this helps. Well, he/she says that they are attracted to your stories. So then, it seems as though he/she thought that the way you write is interesting or unique.

    Note: This person put the word broken in quotations. This, to me, says that the word broken doesn't necessarily mean something bad. :thumbsup:

    selene18 said:
    Indeed, I felt kind of uneasy when that person told me this, and since then, the question wandered through my head.
    The part in orange is a good example, I think, of what this person was talking about. Because you are not a native English speaker, you don't say things the way they are "normally" said. This isn't a bad thing. To me, it's a very good thing. It means that you have a different and interesting style to using vocabulary.


    What do others think?
     

    selene18

    Member
    Venezuela, Spanish
    Thank you!!!

    Well, my teachers at the university tell me I have my mistakes, but my English was quite easy to understand. They tell me sometimes I have problems with word order or such things.

    Indeed, I felt kind of uneasy when that person told me this, and since then, the question wandered through my head. ---> Then, how do I say this correctly? ^_^

    Again, thank you so much for the help!
     

    VenusEnvy

    Senior Member
    English, United States
    selene18 said:
    Indeed, I felt kind of uneasy when that person told me this, and since then, the question wandered through my head. ---> Then, how do I say this correctly? ^_^
    It is correct, but a different wording, a little poetic. :)
     

    selene18

    Member
    Venezuela, Spanish
    I see!

    Now, out of curiousity, is it common that Spanish speakers tend to sound "poetic" or "different" when we speak/write?

    I have noticed you speak Spanish too, so that's why I ask your opinion concerning this =D
     

    bartonig

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Selene18,
    Broken English is used to describe someone's spoken English not written English. I shouldn't worry about your friend's comment.
    As to sounding poetic or different, the answer is yes, foreigners speaking English do sound different. I'm not sure that they sound poetic. The differences are in the sounds they make and the construction of sentences. Very often a foreign speaker uses sounds and structures from their own language because they haven't mastered them in English. For example, here in Florence speakers often cannot pronounce th and so they chose a sound from their own language. Another example, is in asking questions. If they haven't mastered auxiliary verb inversion they use the non-inverted form but without applying the necessary intonation. This sounds different and sometimes attractive (and sometimes confusing).
     

    JLanguage

    Senior Member
    USA: American English, Learning Hebrew and Spanish
    selene18 said:
    Let me explain you =)

    First time I've ever read such interesting 'broken' English
    Reminds me of the way Ayed writes - almost seems as if he's writing from another time because of his tendency towards inversion and strange constructions.

    The above definitely sounds like a compliment to me.
     

    JLanguage

    Senior Member
    USA: American English, Learning Hebrew and Spanish
    selene18 said:
    Thank you!!!

    Indeed, I felt kind of uneasy when that person told me this, and since then, the question wandered through my head. ---> Then, how do I say this correctly? ^_^

    Again, thank you so much for the help!
    Indeed, I felt kind of uneasy when that person told me this, and since then, the question wandered through my head.

    In plain language:
    "I felt a little upset when that person said that to me, and since then this question has been bothering me."

    I prefer your construction. :) I agree with VenusEnvy here, it does sound a bit poetic.
     

    E-J

    Senior Member
    England, English
    selene18 said:
    Now, out of curiousity, is it common that Spanish speakers tend to sound "poetic" or "different" when we speak/write?
    It's not only Spanish speakers - unintended poetry can come from a speaker of any other language when they try to use or adapt their native expressions in English. (Not all mistakes sound poetic, of course!)

    A French friend of mine who used to day-dream a lot would say to me, "I am in the moon"! This is a direct translation from the French ("Je suis dans la lune") and she didn't realise that her sentence would sound both broken and poetic. Firstly, it's an idiomatic expression that doesn't exist in English, so it's an unfamiliar image. Secondly, it's broken from a grammatical point of view - in English, one cannot be "in" the moon - you can only be "on" it (physically, like an astronaut) or "over" it (figuratively, when you're very happy). My friend's expression came across as meaningless at first, but quite charming once I'd understood her meaning :)

    To say what she wanted to say in idiomatic English, you'd use an expression like "My head's in the clouds".
     

    selene18

    Member
    Venezuela, Spanish
    bartonig said:
    Selene18,
    Broken English is used to describe someone's spoken English not written English. I shouldn't worry about your friend's comment.

    As to sounding poetic or different, the answer is yes, foreigners speaking English do sound different. I'm not sure that they sound poetic. The differences are in the sounds they make and the construction of sentences. Very often a foreign speaker uses sounds and structures from their own language because they haven't mastered them in English. For example, here in Florence speakers often cannot pronounce th and so they chose a sound from their own language. Another example, is in asking questions. If they haven't mastered auxiliary verb inversion they use the non-inverted form but without applying the necessary intonation. This sounds different and sometimes attractive (and sometimes confusing).
    I see! Most Spanish speakers tend to read English as it is written, which is not correct. I used to do that (when I was still a child and did not master English at all).

    Perhaps it's just a matter of practice and time until I stop sounding broken

    JLanguage said:
    Reminds me of the way Ayed writes - almost seems as if he's writing from another time because of his tendency towards inversion and strange constructions.

    The above definitely sounds like a compliment to me.
    Thanks! ^_^ I do hope too it was a compliment... I know my English is not perfect at all, but is all the English I managed to learn here in my country!

    JLanguage said:
    Indeed, I felt kind of uneasy when that person told me this, and since then, the question wandered through my head.

    In plain language:

    "I felt a little upset when that person said that to me, and since then this question has been bothering me."

    I prefer your construction. :) I agree with VenusEnvy here, it does sound a bit poetic.
    I understand. That what happens when one is writing histories with Spanish in mind!

    E-J said:
    It's not only Spanish speakers - unintended poetry can come from a speaker of any other language when they try to use or adapt their native expressions in English. (Not all mistakes sound poetic, of course!)

    A French friend of mine who used to day-dream a lot would say to me, "I am in the moon"! This is a direct translation from the French ("Je suis dans la lune") and she didn't realise that her sentence would sound both broken and poetic. Firstly, it's an idiomatic expression that doesn't exist in English, so it's an unfamiliar image. Secondly, it's broken from a grammatical point of view - in English, one cannot be "in" the moon - you can only be "on" it (physically, like an astronaut) or "over" it (figuratively, when you're very happy). My friend's expression came across as meaningless at first, but quite charming once I'd understood her meaning :)

    To say what she wanted to say in idiomatic English, you'd use an expression like "My head's in the clouds".
    I think it's the charming aspect of hearing foreigners speaking. The world would be boring if the all of us would speak same language and same accent!
     
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