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(general reasons: HISTORICAL, POLITICAL.../ Jeremy harmer:
2.1.1. Colonial history
2.1.2. Economics
2.1.3. Travel
2.1.4. Information exchange
2.1.5. Popular culture

3. VARIETIES OF ENGLISH (3 CIRCLES)example of proff higgins in bryson

5. CONCLUSION- APPLICATION TO TEACHING- rollo del plurilingualism, false

More than 300 million people in the world speak English and the rest, it
sometimes seems, try to... Bill Bryson, Mother Tongue

English is an international language, spoken in many countrie both as a

native and as a second or foreign language. It is taught in the schools in
almost every country on this earth. As Bill Bryson half-jokingly considers in
the opening chapter of his book, which is considered a hymn to the English
language, English has become the undisputed global language. It is spoken
by over 300 million people as their native tongue. Millions speak it as an
additional language.
English is spoken habitually in the United States, the British Isles, Ireland,
Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Republic of South Africa, Liberia, and
many territories under the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
It is estimated that 300 million people speak English as a second language,
and an additional 100 million people use it fluently as a foreign language. As
a rough estimate, 1000 million or one billion people around the world have
some knowledge of English, either as a native language, as a second
language, or as a foreign language.
English is the most widely spoken foreign language in 19 of the 25 EU
Member States where it is not an official language.
In addition, English is the associate official language of India which has over
1000 million (over billion) people. Pakistan, Bangladesh, and many other
nations which were ruled by Britain continue to use English both as an
optional medium of instruction in their schools and as one of their official
languages. The islands of the Philippines continue to use English as an
important tool for education, administration, and for mass media purposes.
English is the chief foreign language taught in the schools of Europe, South
America, Asia and Africa.
Even though some nations which were ruled by the French continue to teach
French as their most preferred second language, English is gaining ground
even in these countries. In the former Soviet Union, Russian was the
dominant language. Since the break of the Soviet Union, the Central Asian
Republics have been rapidly introducing English in their school system as a
second or foreign language. In Russia itself, English is gaining ground as the
most popular second language. In Japan too, English is the most favored
second or foreign language.
Outside Europe, English is the predominant language of international
commerce. Although the United Nations and its various agencies have more
than one language for transaction, more often than not, English comes to be
chosen as the preferred language of communication between the
participating member-nations.
This is so, even though more people in the world speak Chinese than English
as their native language. Spanish may claim a large number of native
speakers, but neither Spanish, nor French, nor Russian, nor Chinese can even
come close to the level and variety of uses to which English is put in the


English belongs to the Indo-European family of languages. Within this

family, English is a member of the Germanic branch. The Germanic brach
may be divided into three groups or subdivisions: East Germanic which
consisted of Gothic (now an extinct language); North Germanic under which
we include the Scandinavian languages; and West Germanic which consists
of High German, Low German, Frisian and English.

1.2.1 Anglo-Saxon migration. Here's how the English language got started:
After Roman troops withdrew from Britain in the early 5th century, three
Germanic peoples the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes moved in and established
kingdoms. They brought with them the Anglo-Saxon language, which
combined with some Celtic and Latin words to create Old English. Old English
was first spoken in the 5th century, and it looks incomprehensible to today's
English-speakers. To give you an idea of just how different it was, the
language the Angles brought with them had three genders (masculine,
feminine, and neutral). Still, though the gender of nouns has fallen away in
English, 4,500 Anglo-Saxon words survive today. They make up only about 1
percent of the comprehensive Oxford English Dictionary, but nearly all of the
most commonly used words that are the backbone of English. They include
nouns like "day" and "year," body parts such as "chest," arm," and "heart,"
and some of the most basic verbs: "eat," "kiss," "love," "think," "become."
FDR's sentence "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" uses only words
of Anglo-Saxon origin.
The following image ilustrates the Anglo-Saxon migration:

1.2.3. The Danelaw
The next source of English was Old Norse. Vikings from present-day
Denmark, some led by the wonderfully named Ivar the Boneless, raided the
eastern coastline of the British Isles in the 9th century. They eventually
gained control of about half of the island. Their language was probably
understandable by speakers of English. But Old Norse words were absorbed
into English: legal terms such as "law" and "murder" and the pronouns
"they," "them," and "their" are of Norse origin. "Arm" is Anglo-Saxon, but
"leg" is Old Norse; "wife" is Anglo-Saxon," but "husband" is Old Norse.

1. 2.4. The Norman Conquest

The real transformation of English which started the process of turning it
into the language we speak today came with the arrival of William the
Conqueror from Normandy, in today's France. The French that William and his
nobles spoke eventually developed into a separate dialect, Anglo-Norman.
Anglo-Norman became the language of the medieval elite. It contributed
around 10,000 words, many still used today. In some cases, Norman words
ousted the Old English words. But in others, they lived side by side as
synonyms. Norman words can often sound more refined: "sweat" is Anglo-
Saxon, but "perspire" is Norman. Military terms (battle, navy, march, enemy),
governmental terms (parliament, noble), legal terms (judge, justice, plaintiff,
jury), and church terms (miracle, sermon, virgin, saint) were almost all
Norman in origin. The combination of Anglo-Norman and Old English led to
Middle English, the language of Chaucer.
1.2.5. The Great Vowel Shift
If you think English spelling is confusing why "head" sounds nothing like
"heat," or why "steak" doesn't rhyme with "streak," and "some" doesn't
rhyme with "home" you can blame the Great Vowel Shift. Between roughly
1400 and 1700, the pronunciation of long vowels changed. "Mice" stopped
being pronounced "meese." "House" stopped being prounounced like
"hoose." Some words, particularly words with "ea," kept their old
pronounciation. (And Northern English dialects were less affected, one
reason they still have a distinctive accent.) This shift is how Middle English
became modern English. No one is sure why this dramatic shift occurred. But
it's a lot less dramatic when you consider it took 300 years. Shakespeare was
as distant from Chaucer as we are from Thomas Jefferson.


In the next paragaphs we will examine how a language treated for centuries
as the inadequate and second-rate tongue of peasants (Bryson, Mother
Tongue) has become the undisputed global language.
Five hundred years ago, between five and seven million people spoke
English, almost all of them living in the British Isles. Now, anywhere up to 1.8
billion people speak English. All of this has happened within the last one
hundred years.
Although English is not the language with the largest number of native or
first language speakers, it has become a lingua franca. A lingua franca can
be defined as a language widely adopted for communication between two
speakers whose native languages are different from each others
s and where
one one or both speakers are using it as a second language. Many people
living in the European Union, for example, frequently operate in English as
well as their own languages (where these are different), and the economic
and cultural influence of the United States has led to increased English use in
many areas of the globe.
Like Latin in Europe in the Middle Ages, English seems to be one of the
main languages of international communication, and even people who are
not speakers of English often know words such as bank, chocolate, computer,
hamburguer, hospital, hot dog, taxi, telephone, university and chatroom.
There are a number of interlocking reasons for the popularity of English as a
lingua franca. Many of these are: historical (i.e. Imperialism), practical (i.e.
traffic control, emergency services, etc), intellectual (i.e.scientific,
technological, academic information, wilkipedia, etc.), entertainment (i.e.
popular music, advertising, computers, video games, etc.) and, above all,
political reasons. In fact, language is an intensely political issue since it is
bound up with identity and power.
Occasionally, the spread of English has been attributed to the wrong
reasons. That is, some people suggest that English has become ubiquitous
because it is easy to learn or especially flexible, but a glance backwards
suggests that this is irrelevant. Despite a highly complex case system, Latin
was Europes most influential language for over a thousand years. Yet people
learned Latin in the Middle Ages for the same reasons they learn English
now: to have access to a better life and have access to knowledge. In fact,
English is learned everywhere because people have found out that
knowledge of English is a passport for better career, better pay, advanced
knowledge, and for communication with the entire world. English is also
learned for the literature it possesses, and for the variety and rich experience
it provides. English has replaced French as the language of diplomacy. In this
computer age, English is bound to expand its domains of use everywhere.
Everyone wants to appropriate English as their own.
We will follow Jeremy Harmer (The Practice of English Language Teaching,
2007) in order to offer a clearcut classification of the factors which have
influenced and sustained the spread of the language:

2.1.1. Colonial history

After developing for almost a milennium on the British Isles, English was
taken around the world by the sailors, soldiers, pilgrims, traders, missionaries
of the British Empire. By the time anything ressembling a language policy
was introduced, English had reached all corners of the globe.

When the Pilgrim Fathers landed on the Massachusetts coast in 1620 after
their eventful journey from Plymouth, England, they brought with them not
just a set of religious beliefs, nor only a pioneering spirit and a desire for
colonisation, but also their language. Although many years later the
Americans broke away from their colonial masters, the language of English
remained and it is still the language of the worlds greatest economic and
political power. It was the same in Australia, too. When Commander Philip
planted the British flag in Sydney Cove on 26th January 1788, it was not just
a bunch of British convicts who disembarked (to be followed by many free
setlers of that land), but also a language.

It was the same in Australia, too. When Commander Philip planted the,
British flag in Sydney Cove on 26th January 1788, it was not just a bunch of
British convicts and their guardians who disembarked (to be rapidly followed
by many free settlers of that land), but also a language.
In other parts of the British Empire, English rapidly became a
unifying/dominating means of control. For example, it became a lingua
franca in India, where a plethora of indigenous languages made the use of
any one of them as a whole-country system problematic. The imposition of
English as the one language of administration helped maintain the colonizers
2.1.2. Economics

A major factor in the spread, of English has been the spread of commerce
throughout the world, and in particular, the emergence of the United States
as a world economic power after the two world wars. While Europe was
rebuilding in the years after 1945, the USA boomed. American businesses
picked up where the British East India Company had left off centuries before,
taking English around the world as a language of trade. The influence of
American business, combined with the tradition of English left around the
world by the British Empire, have made English the number one language of
international trade in the 21st Century. All over the worlds top business
schools now teach in English.
Of course other economic blocks are hugely powerful too, but the spread of
international commerce has taken English along with it. This is the twentieth-
century phenomenon of 'globalization described by the journalist John Pilger
as '...a term which journalists and politicians, have made fashionable and
which is often used in a positive sense to denote a "global village" of "free
trade", hi-tech marvels and all kinds of possibilities that transcend class,
historical experience and ideology' (Pilger 1998: 61).

2.1.3. Travel
Much travel and tourism is carried on, around the world, in English. Of
course this is not always the case, as the multilingualism of many tourism
workers in different countries demonstrates, but a visit to most airports on
the globe will show signs not only in the language of that country, but also in
English, just as many-airline announcements are glossed in English, too,
whatever the language of the country the airport is situated in.
So far, English is also the preferred language of air traffic control in many
countries and is used widely in sea travel communication.

2.1.4. Information exchange

A great deal of academic discourse around the world takes place in English. It
is often a lingua franca of conferences, for example, and many journal
articles in fields as diverse as astrophysics and zoology.
The first years of the Internet as a major channel for information exchange
have also seen a marked predominance of English (though such a situation
may not continue). This probably has something to do with the Internet's
roots in the USA and the predominance of its use mere in the early days of
the World Wide Web.
English dominated in the early days of the Internet. But languages online are
getting more diverse. In 2010, English no longer made up the majority of the
text written online, as advancements in technology made it easier for non-
Roman alphabets to be displayed. Still, English is the dominant language of
Wikipedia both when you consider the language articles are written in, and
the fact that people all over the world use the English-language version.
2.1.5. Popular culture

In the western world, at least, English is a dominating language in popular

culture. Pop music in English saturates the planet's airwaves. Thus many
people who are not English speakers can sing words from their favourite
English songs. Many people who are regular cinemagoers (or TV viewers)
frequently hear English in subtitled films coming out of the USA.


Harmer, Jeremy . The Practice of English Language Teaching. 2007. 4Th

Edition. Longman Handbooks for language Teachers. Chapter 1. The world of

Crystal, David. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language.1995.

Second Edition. Cambridge University Press.

Bryson, Bill. Mother Tongue.1990. Penguin.

Hammond, Alex. How did English become the worlds most widely spoken