Half of the population in the world do not speak or understand English, but their world has not stopped just because of lack of this knowledge. English is perceived and perhaps regarded as the universal standard of communication for commerce and social networking. In most international airports, English is commonly used to connect two strangers: the local custom officer and the foreign visitor. Both of them are not English speaking people though.
I used to be able to speak in local native dialects with the taxi drivers but they usually resort to using English to verify my destination. I find that English is also used when I go to the local markets to buy fresh produce like fish and vegetable.
“Seventy cent…ok? Eh, you like this one? Vely (very) fresh. I give you cheap. No ploblem. (No problem.).”
“My English bloken. Wat to do, never go to school lah.”
(I speak broken English. I do not go to school, What to do?”
Once a Chinese taxi driver said, “You speak good Mandarin. Better. English is so difficult. Must speak ploperly (properly). Must know grammar (glammar). Mandarin, no need. Easy. Anyhow say, nobody will laugh. English, if you speak with no good grammar, people laugh when they know you are wrong.”
I understand where he was coming from. Generally, if you do not speak good English, you might as well don’t speak at all. It is distasteful to the ear as well as to the mouth to hear English being destroyed at the first utter.
If you live in Indonesia, use Bahasa Indonesia; if you are in Malaysia, use Malay; if you are the Philippines, use Tagalog; if you are in Uganda, use Swahili. It does no matter how good your English is; a little English is better than none. You get more done knowing the local dialect because the local commerce do not depend on English to make a living. “No English, no problem. I still make money.”
Alas! Business goes on whether or not you like or understand my English. The local commerce: local markets and supermarkets, hair salons, coffeeshops and tailors, do not depend on English to make money, but on service they can provide and who they serve.
Don’t try to show that you are smart by speaking only in English: ten out of ten, you will never get properly served. “Where’s my drink, I have ordered it twice already.” I had ordered a glass of sparkling strawberry juice at Pizza hut; the Chinese waitress nodded her head and never came back with it. I ordered it again and she nodded her head again. And my order never came.