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English around the World

General Presentation

Secara Silviana
Tipuri de modernitate in
Spatiul Anglofon si Francofon, an 1
The English
language is
nobody’s special
property. It is the
property of the
imagination; it is the
property of language


A brief history of English

Old English
Middle English
Renaissance English
Tudor English
The 18th century
English in the 19th

English world-wide in the 20th

The British Council

Into the 21st century

Economical and Social

I have chosen the topic mostly because it was challenging for me to do some
researching regarding the topic. My job is to convince you, the reader, that English is a
global language, having a worldwide domination.
I thought it would be better to start with a quote, The English language is nobody’s
special property. It is the property of the imagination; it is the property of language
itself, which belongs to Derek Walcott, a Carribean poet, playwright and writer. He won
the Nobel Prize for literature in 1992.
My paper focuses on three main parts:
☻A Brief History of English
☻English World-Wide in the 20th Century
☻Into the 21st Century
English is a West-Germanic language that developed in England during the Anglo-
Saxon era. As a result of the military, scientific, political, and cultural influences of the
British Empire in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, and of the United States since the
mid 20th century, it has become lingua franca in many parts of the world.
Old English denotes the form of the English language used in England for
approximately seven centuries. It relies on inflections (or endings) to denote the words’
function in the sentence, becoming therefore a synthetic language.
The next image represents lines 2677-2687 of the original manuscript of Beowulf:

Middle English was called by Barbara Strang par excellence, the dialectical phase
of English. It is the period in which dialectical variations were represented in writing.

These dialectical variations derive from territorial divisions between the original Anglo-
Saxon kingdoms.

Renaissance English is a very important period, recording borrowings: cargo, from

Spanish or coffee from Turkish. Also, in this period, do was used in sentences like: I do
send a letter, but it was not required in questions or negatives: Send I a letter?, I send not
a letter.
Nowadays, we use the periphrastic do: I definitely do like it.

Tudor English is remarkable because then, the –(e)s ending began to be used. In
the following chart, we can notice an increasing use of the ending. Between 1620-1659,
almost 90% of people used it. As a curiosity, during the 16th century, women are shown
to be more frequent users of the –(e)s form than men.

The 18th century was called the great age of the personal letter ((H. Anderson, I.
Ehrenpreis, 1968: 269). People began to communicate through letters in vast numbers.
Personal letters provided detailed pictures of the era and contained important material in
terms of the language of the period.

The 19th century was a period characterized by change and innovation. The
developments of the age were reflected in language too. For example, in 1882, the verb
industrialize first appeared. A newly extensive terminology offered the potential for self-
definition and for the definition of others: upper, middle, lower, working classes.
Also, in the 19th century, passive forms were used. By the 1830s, the structure The
house was built was well established.

David Crystal says that There has never been a language so widely spread or
spoken by so many people as English.
The quote says a great deal about English domination in the 20th century. In 1900,
for most people, English was simply English or English language.

By the 90s, several labels had come into use, like English world. The closing years
of he 20th century were therefore, a time of radical terminological innovation.
Until about 1970, there was a lack of organized knowledge about what was
happening and what was continuing to happen to English beyond England, Ireland, North
America. When such interest did develop, it was mostly under the influence of Randolph
Quirk in Grammar of contemporary English or later, Comprehensive Grammar of the
English Language. Quirk et alii were concerned mainly with standard English. Linguist
Braj Kachru was already dealing with discussing and describing a fuller range of uses and
styles. As a result, the term variety was preferred to the term dialect.
In the first part of the century, factors like class, education and socio-economic
confidence were invoked with regard to a good usage of English.
In the second part of the century, after 1960s, a period also called the Golden Age
of Beetles, language attitudes became more democratic and less judgmental.
The most significant factor that affected English through the 20th century was the
loss of competition. This was due to NATO, whose working language has been English
from the very start. Among the many situations in which English was used, I must
mention conferences, where participants preferred listening speeches and deliveries in
In 1934, the British Council was founded, to promote a wider awareness of the UK,
its culture and the English language.
One of the most remarkable linguistic developments in the decades after 1945 was
the expansion of the English language in Europe, due to the development of NATO and
the export of US culture through movies and music. The British Council sustained a
mainland European cultural presence, especially in countries like Netherlands, Sweden,

In the 21st century, the development of English was influenced by factors like:
☻ globalization
☻ internet
☻ socio-economical changes

The impact of globalization brought a widespread acknowledgement that English
had achieved a world presence, receiving a special status in many countries’ educational
systems. The fact that English had become a global language gave birth to immediate
linguistic consequences. As new communities adopted English and gave it a central place
in their lives, they also adapted it to their needs and circumstances.
The impact of technology has been obvious at every stage in English history. There
are considerable differences between the traditional forms of speech and writing.
Abbreviations such as LOL (laugh out loud), or C U L8R (see you later) were inexpected
in the 21st century.
Nowadays, English is an official language in more than fifty countries, among
which: Canada, USA, Jamaica, UK, Ireland, India, Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar,

There are 375 million people who speak English as their first language and 1400
millions speak English as their second language:

800 1st language
600 2nd language


In the top native English speaking countries I must mention:

U.S.- 215 million speakers

U.K.- 61 million speakers
Canada- 18.2 million speakers
Australia- 15.5 million speakers
Ireland- 3.8 million speakers
South Africa- 3.7 million speakers
New Zealand- 3.6 million speakers

Countries such as Jamaica or Nigeria also have millions of native speakers, ranging
from an English-based creole, to a more standard version of English.

David Crystal claims that combining native and non-native speakers, India has
more people who speak or understand English than any other country in the world.
English is the language most often studied as a foreign language in the European
Union, 89% of schoolchildren learn it.
Among non-English speaking European Union countries, a large percentage of the
population claimed to be able to carry a conversation in English in the Netherlands
(87%), Sweden (85%), Denmark (83%).
Being a global language, English was also influenced by other languages. English
syntax remains extremely similar to that of the north Germanic languages. Also, the verb
bring/brought/brought is very similar to the Dutch and Norwegian verbs. Many written
French words are intelligible to an English speaker (fiancé).
As a conclusion, I must mention that the linguist David Crystal claims that Chinese
will continue its predominance, with Hindi-Urdu of India and Arabic climbing past
English, and Spanish nearly equal it.


► Linda, Mugglestone, 2006, The Oxford History of English, Oxford University

► David, Crystal, 2003, English as a Global Language, Cambridge University
► http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_language - the 20th of October, 2009.
► http://web.ku.edu/~idea/ - the 23rd of October, 2009.