Friday, 12 August 2011 00:00
Back in the 5th Century AD, the people living in Britain spoke Celtic. Then three German Tribes, the Saxons, Angles, and Jutes invaded. The language changed and merged. The result was “Old English.” It was spoken in Britain until around 1100 AD and had only some 50 thousand words.
Then, the Normans invaded Britain. They spoke a form of French. As a result of the invasion, two classes in Britain developed – “French” for the upper class and “Old English” for the lower class. These two languages soon merged into “Middle English.” The new language, in Britain, lasted until around 1500 AD.
The next part of the evolution saw “Early Modern English” which lasted from the early 1500s to around 1800. The early version of “Modern English” was the result of new words developed as English ships circled the globe. Another important dimension to “Early Modern English” was the direct result of printing presses. As a result, spelling and grammar became more standardized. Dictionaries preserved the language.
The next stage saw a dramatic increase in the number of English words. Through the Industrial Revolution, and the British Empire occupying over 25 percent of the globe’s surface, new words constantly entered the printed dictionaries.
English, as we know it today, in the United States, developed even faster. French and Spanish colonies, in what is today a part of the United States, developed new words. West African slaves also added words. And today because of movies, TV, popular music, trade, technology, and technology. our language has grown from 50,000 words in 1100 AD to over one million today!
Today, English is the most widely used “second” and “learning” language in the world. Over 60 countries use English as the official or dominant language. In total, some one billion people speak English around the world.
One of the most significant reasons for the growth of the English language is the computer. Characters in the Arabic languages are difficult to handle on a computer’s keyboard. While there are programs, which can assist in that transition, it is easier to use English. As a result, many users of computers around the world turn to the English language.
The best example of the foreign use of English because of computers can be found China. Over 300 million Chinese are fluent in English – more than the total population of the United States!
Because of the growing popularity of English around the globe, the International Civil Aviation Organization, in 2008, mandated that all pilots and all control towers at airports speak to each other in English. The reason for the change, was because there had been so many accidents resulting from the inability for pilots and control towers to communicate effectively.
In closing, let me make it clear that I do not oppose the learning and use of other languages. Whether it be a vacation trip or business opportunity in a foreign nation, a second language can be very positive and helpful. But, at the same time, make no mistake that English is the global language. And as Teddy Roosevelt once said, “We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language.”