Communication for development in the framework of the Culture of Peace

English language

English language is probably used in some way by about a quarter of all people in the world. In countries like Britain and the US, is the first language people learn as children and they communicate in English all the time. In other countries like India, Kenya, Singapore and Papua New Guinea, large number of people use English as a second language. Finally, in many countries  is taught in schools as a foreign language, but it is not an official language. English is also used for many kinds of international communication. People in science, medicine, and business often communicate in English. And also is the language of much of the world’s pop music and films.

The spread of English around the world began with the British settlement of North America, the Caribbean, Australia and Asia in the seventh and eighteen centuries. It continued in the nineteenth century when British controlled parts of Africa and South Pacific. English also became important internationally because in the nineteenth centuries Britain was the most important industrial nation in the world. In the twentieth century, the use of English spread with the growth in international business. When international companies and organizations developed, English was often chosen as the working language.

The growth in vocabulary is clear when we look at the making of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This dictionary contains all English words since 1150, even those that are no longer used. It has given us a lot of information about the history of words and expressions and has helped us understand how languages changes over time. Moreover, in the 1920 the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) chose an accent for all its speakers to use on the radio. This was the accent of the educated: people in government, at the universities, in the army, and the Church.

All over the world, people speaking English use different vocabulary, grammar and accents in a large number of varieties of English. In each English-speaking country one variety of English is used nationally. It is taught in schools and spoken on a radio and television. Everyone in the country uses the same grammar, vocabulary, and spelling when they use their country’s Standard English, though they may speak it with different accents. In the newest varieties of English, words from another language are very often used with English ones. For example, in the US some Spanish speakers speak “Spanglish” which uses English and Spanish words in the same sentence.

Jargon and slang are kinds of English that are not part of Standard English. Jargon is the difficult or strange language used by a group of people to describe things that the rest of us do not know about. For example, doctors, lawyers, university teachers, and business managers, all use words and expressions that the rest of us do not understand. On the other hand, slang is an extremely informal kind of language, much more informal than jargon. Slang usually belongs to a group of people who use it to show that they belong to that group, and that others do not. Many slang words show that you like or dislike something.

In the future, the number of people who can use English well will continue to grow and that English will remain a world language for many years. However, the future of English as a world language is not so certain. Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic may become other languages, as the numbers of people who speak these languages continue to grow, and the countries where they are spoken become richer. Although international business may grow, some of it may be with countries in the same part of the world, and other shared languages may be used instead of English. ¿Who will use English language at the end of this century, and how? It’s hard to see clearly.

Source of information:

Viney, Brigit. The History of the English Language.

Post written by Carmen Rafecas.