English



The global language?
Where is English spoken?!.............................3

  Is English the most used language?!
                           ...
Where is English spoken?




        Areas in dark blue - English is the primary language.
            Areas in light blue...
Nonetheless, English does have a good claim to be the world’s most
spoken language. This is because so many people use Eng...
French is still an important international language in non-
francophone countries. It is particularly influential in inter...
What is ‘Globish’?

    Jean-Paul Nerriere argues that second language speakers have
developed a new form of English based...
A. The French have always been very
imperious. Whenever they have a cultural
decision to make it’s always top
down. With E...
A. There are a number of keys. The first is
             the passing of one empire, the British,
             followed by a...
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FAQs about the English Language: Global Language?

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Is English the world's leading language? Does it have the most native speakers? Why has it become so important?

Fun facts and discussion points ideal for classroom use with ESL/EFL students and others studying the language

For pre-reading & comprehension exercises, audio, quizzes, crosswords, a glossary & other learning activities here: http://tinyurl.com/yh7b9nn

More on the importance of French, Latin and Greek words in English here: http://tinyurl.com/yaozwu8

http://thisinterestedme.blogspot.com/
http://englishlanguage.eslreading.org

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Transcript of "FAQs about the English Language: Global Language?"

  1. 1. English The global language?
  2. 2. Where is English spoken?!.............................3 Is English the most used language?! .............3 Why has English taken over?!........................5 What is ʻGlobishʼ?! ...........................................6 http://englishlanguage.eslreading.org/ This article introduces some of the most frequently asked questions about the role of English as a world language. It aims to stimulate discussion rather than offer definitive answers 2
  3. 3. Where is English spoken? Areas in dark blue - English is the primary language. Areas in light blue - English is widely used. Is English the most used language? In terms of native speakers English is officially only the third world language, just behind Chinese and Spanish. More people grow up speaking Spanish in their homes than English.
  4. 4. Nonetheless, English does have a good claim to be the world’s most spoken language. This is because so many people use English to communicate with speakers of other language. English is the official ‘lingua franca‘ or working language of many areas of business and culture,. All air traffic control, for example, is in English. And a Japanese businessman will probably communicate with his German, Indian and Chinese customer in English. Nonetheless, English does have a good claim to be the world’s most spoken language. This is because so many people use English to communicate with speakers of other language. In many areas of business and culture, English is the official ‘lingua franca‘ or working language. All air traffic control, for example, is in English. And a Japanese businessman will probably communicate with his German, Indian and Chinese customer in English. How did English become so important? English has not always been the premiere second language. French, for example, was the traditional language of international diplomacy, and French terms like detente, coup, & aide de camp are sill used by English speakers. Similarly French dominates the vocabulary of food or cuisine. A typical menu will include the words like aperitif, entrée and dessert. There is also a strong influence on the language of the arts ballet and opera. 4
  5. 5. French is still an important international language in non- francophone countries. It is particularly influential in international institutions like the UN and the European Union. And knowledge of French still has cachet (social status) amongst English speakers. In terms of everyday usage as a second language, however, French is in long-term decline. Spanish, in contrast, is ascending but usage is largely restricted in terms of geographic spread. Ironically, the biggest recent advance for Spanish has been via the rapidly increasing hispanic population in the USA. States like California, Texas and Arizona are close to bilingual in many respects. This has lead some to predict that Spanish will eventually challenge English as the first language of America. It’s more likely, however, that it will remain an influential second language Why has English taken over? A key factor in the success of English as an international language is economic. English speaking countries have played key roles in the development of modern capitalism. ✦ Britain was the first country to industrialise ✦ the USA is the largest and most successful economy in the world. ✦ Former British colonies like Canada, Australia and Hong Kong are economically successful. 5
  6. 6. What is ‘Globish’? Jean-Paul Nerriere argues that second language speakers have developed a new form of English based on 1500 commonly used words. This idea has been developed by Robert McCrum in his book Globish: How English became the world's language (2010). In an interview with The Boston Globe he described the thinking behind the term: Q. Do you like the term Globish? RMcC. I don’t love it, but I think it does the job .... As we say in England, it does what it says on the tin. Q. You quote Walt Whitman describing English as “the dialect of common sense.’’ A. That’s why it’s so contagious. It’s useful. It has a function. It delivers the goods. There are many flaws to English, many quirks — not least the spelling — but it does a good job. Q. You make a distinction in the book between the imperial roots of English internationally, but the language not being imperious. 6
  7. 7. A. The French have always been very imperious. Whenever they have a cultural decision to make it’s always top down. With English, it’s always bottom up. I’m saying implicitly that there’s a quality to the English language which is different from German or French or Chinese. That quality is approachability, usefulness, adaptability. Q. If the world is flat, as Thomas Friedman argues, then is English round? A. One would say it probably is. This is the first time in the history of the planet when the whole world can transmit and receive the same language. Not everyone chooses to do that, of course. There are still 5,000 mother tongues, and they are very important. But at the same time you’ve got this unprecedented situation. Latin was a lingua franca in the Middle Ages, but it didn’t extend much beyond the Mediterranean basin. Q. Which has been more important to the emergence of Globish: the British Empire, American popular culture, or the World Wide Web? 7
  8. 8. A. There are a number of keys. The first is the passing of one empire, the British, followed by another, the Pax Americana, which had essentially had the same language, values, and culture. The rise of global capitalism is very important, too. They all come together, like a perfect storm, at the right moment. That’s the key. First published in the Boston Globe. For longer version of this interview go here Comprehension exercises, audio, quizzes, crosswords, a glossary & other learning activities here: http://tinyurl.com/yh7b9nn More on the importance of French, Latin and Greek words in English here: http://tinyurl.com/yaozwu8 Blog: http://thisinterestedme.blogspot.com/ Websites: http://englishlanguage.eslreading.org/ http://esolebooks.com/index.html Email: kieran@eslreading.org © 2010 Kieran McGovern 8

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