(pic from The New Yorker)The econo-blogger Daniel Hamermesh recently lamented his "English guilt" (i.e., it's easier for native speakers of English to publish scholarly papers because English is the lingua franca of academics). This is a fine point (I'm not sure it's true, but it's worth debating).However, he decided to link to a story about Crazy English to establish the world-wide interest in learning English (see Language Log postings about Crazy English here and here and read Amber R. Woodward's academic thesis on it here (pdf)).
I have no doubt that Crazy English has a large number of followers in China (20 million by one count), but it's hardly representative of the general, world-wide interest in the English language. Why did Hamermesh link to it? Just 'cause it crazy and goofy? Would he be happy if a linguistic blogger wrote about economics and linked to some crazy, goofy economics trends like ethanol subsidies and protectionist tariffs as if to say that these were somehow representative of world-wide interest in economics? I think I'd care less if he had a smaller megaphone, but he's blogging at one of the most frequently read blogs in the world, the NYT's Freakonomics blog (#64 on Technorati's list). That's a big megaphone. So be careful what you yell through it, Danny.