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English language

859 of 1160 nominations


English language

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English language

Undoubtedly, the single most successful export in the history of our nation has been the English language. Second only to Mandarin Chinese in point of numbers of people speaking it, it has the advantage over its rival of being spoken and understood throughout the world – in the United States and throughout the Commonwealth, and in many far-flung corners where two people who don’t understand each other’s language can deal in the common currency of basic English. Not for nothing do many other countries provide for the learning of basic English in their education systems.

Richly composted of classical Greek, Latin, French, German, old Norse and Arabic, and borrowing from tongues as divergent as Catalan (as in “capsize”), Sanskrit (“pundit”) and Japanese (“tycoon”), our mother tongue is uniquely absorbent and adaptable. As the endless varieties of modern slang demonstrate, it can be pushed and pulled into any old shape without (too much) damage being sustained. Some feel we lack a central institution, along the lines of France’s Académie Française, to lay down the eternal ground rules, but if such a body had existed in the past, English wouldn’t be anything like as internationally predominant as it is today.


Your comments

As many languages are, English is built up from words from many diverse languages. English is the most taught language throughout the world and is the most common 2nd language. Apart from Chinese (which has many different dialects - languages?) English is the predominant language in the world.

Jim Currie

I recently learned that only in English are the raisin, currant and sultana distinguished. For this reason alone, the EU had to generate the generic term "dried vine fruit". Wonderfully eccentric but the distinctions are immortalised in so many recipes and all those nostalgic kitchen jars and containers!
Jenny Brown

in addition, English is also easy to learn. A Japanese business man communicate with a Brazilian customer in English. It only lacks pronounciation rules so foreigners have to learn how to pronounce every word individually.
Dr. M. Makki

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I believe rice, peas and jerk chicken is an Icon of England.

Ade Adeluwoye