English Language - Some facts and figures about the English Language - The Growth and Expansion of English referat

[What for] [What our students say] [ Growth and Expansion] [ Influences]


According to research by the British Council, "English has

official* or special status in at least seventy-five countries with a

total population of over two billion. English is spoken as a native* 21558oly25yrm3z

language by around 375 million and as a second language* by around 375

million speakers in the world. Speakers of English as a second language

will soon outnumber those who speak it as a first language. Around 750

million people are believed to speak English as a foreign language*. One lr558o1225yrrm

out of four of the world's population speak English to some level of

competence. Demand from the other three-quarters is increasing."

* Native- the language you learned at home with your family when you

were small.

* Official- the language that is used in official documents, spoken on

the radio and on television

*Second language - language you learn because you have to live in the

country where the language is spoken.

*Foreign language - languages spoken abroad, a language you can choose

to study at school.

The British Council says "English is the main language of books,

newspapers, airports and air-traffic control, international business and

academic conferences, science, technology, diplomacy, sport,

international competitions, pop music and advertising.

Over two-thirds of the world's scientists read in English. Three

quarters of the world's mail is written in English. Eighty per cent of

the world's electronically stored information is in English. Of the

estimated forty million users of the Internet, some eighty per cent

communicate in English, but this is expected to decrease to forty per

cent as speakers of other languages get online."

"English is an easy language. There are no accents, the tenses of

verbs are simplified and the adjectives are invariable", says Gustavo O.

after three years studying it at school. Anaelle S. agrees with him but

she finds the many different ways words are pronounced and the spelling

difficult to cope with. Nicolas de F. finds it interesting and cool

because through it he can understand many films and songs. "You need

English to travel around the world - it's a language almost everybody

understands - so it's easier to communicate with people from different

cultures", says Daniela K. . According to Aldebaran D., "you must speak

English if you want a good job especially if you want to work with


English is part of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family

of languages. By year 1000, the English language consisted of

approximately 40 000 words. Nowadays, the number has grown to more than

500 000. If we calculate the average of words created per century, this

comes to 46 000. A great number of words found in the English vocabulary

was borrowed from Latin, French, Low German, and the Scandinavian

languages. We also know that some periods were more fertile than others:

invasions, contact with other cultures, inventions, technological

progress, music, fashion are some of the factors which have helped to

enrich the language.

British colonialism in the 19th century and American capitalism and

technological progress in the 20th century were undoubtely the main

causes for the spread of English throughout the world.

From around 1750 to 1950 the British Empire covered about a quarter

of the globe. It was one of the most powerful empires the world has ever

known. The colonies gradually freed themselves but about fifty countries

chose to keep a connection with Britain by belonging to the The British

Commonwealth. English is spoken all over the Commonwealth either as a

native or an official language, and the British monarch is the symbolic

head of the association.

The USA has played a leading role in most domains for the last

hundred years. At the end of the 19th century and first quarter of the

20th, it welcomed millions of European immigrants who had fled their

countries ravaged by war, poverty or famine. This labour force

strenghtened American industries and development. The Hollywood film

industry also attracted many foreign artists in quest of fame and

fortune and the number of American films produced every year soon

flooded the market. Before the Treaty of Versailles(1919), which ended

the First World War between Germany and the Allies, diplomacy was

conducted in French. However, President Wilson succeeded in having the

treaty in English as well. Since then, English started being used in

diplomacy and gradually in economic relations and the media. During the

II World War, America intervened both militarily and economically to

save Europe from chaos. From then onwards, the United States have

consolidated their cultural, economical and technological power:

inventions, rock and roll, the first man on the moon, the revolution of

the Internet, the country's growing prosperity and commercial

aggressiveness have contributed to the further expansion and importance

of English in the world today.

The Oxford English Dictionary's new edition will come out in

2010.The Chief Editor of OED , John Simpson, has issued an appeal for

new words: 'There is no longer one English - there are many Englishes.

Words are flooding into the language from all corners of the world'.

The "internationalisation" of English may bring new possibilities

for native speakers of the language :

In his MA thesis,"The Spread of English and Its Appropriation", Daniel

Spichtinger quotes McCabe "...whereas for two centuries we exported our

language and our customs in hot pursuit of...fresh markets, we now find

that our language and our customs are returned to us but altered so that

they can be used by others...so that our own language and culture

discover new possibilities, fresh contradictions." This may refer to

writers from Africa, Asia and former colonies who have used and

appropriated the English language for their own purposes but whose usage

of English has also made their works accessible to a wider audience. For

Kachru, "once English aquires a new identity through creative writing,

the language is liberated from its colonial past."

Rita Raley from the Department of English of the University of

California gives us a list of terms coined to describe international

dialects with ties to English... (What Is Global English?)

Anglikaans/Anglicaans, Anglonorsk, Arablish, Benglish, Chinglish,

Deutschlish/Gerlish, Dutchlish, Eurolish, Franglais/Frenglish,

Hindlish/Hinglish, Indonglish, Inglish, Italglish, Japlish/Janglish,

Manglish, Minglish, Punglish, Russlish, Singlish, Spanglish, Swedlish,

Taglish, Tamlish, Tinglish, Wenglish, Yinglish

Other Sources:

What's Happening to Our Languages? - several articles by people worlwide

published in Topics magazine

No time to fall behind in class - The global linguistic environment is

changing rapidly, so ELT must update itself, argues Christopher Brumfit

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