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Why is english spoken in many places of the world?





Approximately 375 million people speak English as their first language. English today is probably the third largest by number of native speakers, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish language. However, when native and non-native speakers combine is likely to be the most spoken language in the world, though possibly second to a combination of the Chinese languages ​​(depending on whether the distinctions in the latter are classified as “languages “or” dialects “).

English is probably the third language in the world in number of speakers who have it as their mother tongue (between 300 and 400 million people) and the third most spoken language, after Mandarin and Spanish, 17 if it also has to those who have it as a second language (200 million people).

The English, England to extend his tongue all over the world (British Empire), and to become the United States of America the greatest economic and military power, has become the de facto lingua franca of today.

Despite the existence of other languages ​​and international languages ​​like Esperanto or Interlingua looking to use more neutral language, English is today the main language of international communication. This is due to a dominant ‘civilization’, which usually does not take another language, but on the contrary imposes his; this is the reason why in many European countries languages ​​derived from Latin are spoken, as this is the official language of the Roman Empire.



Five hundred years ago, between five and seven million people spoke English and most of them lived in the British Isles. Currently, about 1.8 billion people around the world speak English.

How did this happen?

The rise of English has nothing to do with the structure of the language, or any of its inherent qualities, but with politics and history.

After developing for nearly a millennium in the British Isles, English was carried worldwide by sailors, soldiers, pilgrims, traders and missionaries of the British Empire. Before the introduction of any language policy, the English had reached every corner of the planet. The English Puritans were not the only Europeans to arrive in North America: the Spanish, French, Dutch and German are also widely spoken. In the following centuries, all languages ​​were consolidated by waves of European immigrants.

British Empire

However, in the process of designing a United “States,” the founding fathers were aware of the importance of language to form a national identity. English was the majority language and therefore had to be encouraged. Until the early twentieth century, many states prohibited the teaching of foreign languages ​​in private schools and homes. The U.S. Supreme Court quashed such restrictions on private language teaching in 1923.

Even today, English is not the official language of the United States, but it certainly is the predominant language in practice.

And it was not just the United States that said “hello” in English. In the early twentieth century, the British Empire expanded to nearly a quarter of the Earth’s surface, excluding the United States. According to a popular saying, “the sun never sets on the British Empire”.

Today the sun hid in the Empire, but English remains an important language in all former colonies.

In most of the British Empire, the main goal was trade, so few British definitively settled in the colonies. This explains why not mastered the English colonies in Asia and Africa, where it was the language of business, government and education, but not the language of the people.

British Empire colonies

So far, English has a fundamental role in the administrative affairs of these former colonies. For a long time, to access the English meant to have access to education, for example in mission schools in Africa or the first universities in India. As a result, an Anglophone elite created in some of the most populous countries in the world … and the elites are adept at self-preservation.

After independence, many countries officially became multilingual, but the various groups needed a language to communicate among themselves and with other nations. Again, English was the problem. Now, English is the dominant or official language in 75 territories: a direct legacy of the British Empire.

In countries where the largest colonies, such as Australia, Canada and USA, languages ​​and native cultures were formed were driven to near extinction by the preponderance of English. However, English was not the first language of European colonialism, the Portuguese and Dutch were the first to leave Europe. In fact, until the nineteenth century, English was not the lingua franca (as the term implies, French was the first language for international communication).

So something had to happen for most recently won the English international status … and it was the rise of the United States in the twentieth century. Without this, the global linguistic landscape would look very different today.

Two world wars and the rise of the United States

While Europe was in a rebuilding process in the years after 1945, the United States experienced a boom. U.S. companies flourished where the British East India Company had been centuries earlier, bringing the worldwide English as a business language. The great influence of U.S. firms, combined with the linguistic legacy of the British Empire, the English language became number one trade in the nineteenth century. Currently, all the best business schools in the world teach English.

English is now the most widely spoken foreign language in 19 of the 25 Member States of the European Union, which is not an official language. The six states where English is not the language number one, reveal the importance of politics in languages: Russian is the most spoken foreign language in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia; the Croatian spoken in Slovenia; and the Czech spoken in Slovakia. But the cultural legacy of the postwar decades is also very important for the growth of English as a world language.

Besides sending money across the Atlantic, the United States provided the soundtrack through the rock and roll, jazz, disco and hip hop then. Hollywood movies became a global sensation and American culture in a series. American culture was everywhere, radiating confidence and success: just what the world needed after the devastation of war. Although it was not just American music that led the English to nightclubs and homes worldwide. Some British bands like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Queen, Pink Floyd, The Police and Led Zeppelin put into English in all ears.

The hippie movement came from San Francisco to London, and many music festivals, including Isle of Wight and Woodstock, became icons for a whole generation of English-speaking or not.


Many examples of the use of English in advertising come from multinational companies, which want to maintain their consistent message across all its markets. While other examples come from local businesses, looking for that element of glamor that English can give. Of course, this also happens with other languages ​​and haute couture Eau de Toilette sound much more attractive in French.

Many bands and filmmakers publish their work in English, to reach a much wider audience. This invisible to produce creative works in English, pressure further boosted the popularity of the language in the second half of the twentieth century.

The language of many extreme sports excellence is also English: snowboarders ollie, fakie and rodeo … so they are Canadian, Swiss or Japanese.

The very word “cool” has been integrated into several languages.

Science and technology

The global power of the United States coincided with the birth of the computer / computers and therefore, English is the language of the technological revolution and the internet. For example, consider keyboards: they were designed for Latin letters, so that speakers of Asian languages ​​(in particular) have to use complicated techniques to write the words. Also, what happens inside the devices is also dominated by English. United States remains the most innovative nation in technology and thanks to the language policy of the founders of the nation, the English language is king.

Is English will remain the number one?

Some suggest that English became pervasive because it is “easy to learn” or because it is quite flexible, but a look back we can see that this is irrelevant. Latin, despite its complicated and almost perverse system of grammatical cases, was the most influential language in Europe for more than a millennium (and their descendants are still strong). People learned Latin for the same reasons learning English now: to get ahead in life and access to knowledge. Even now, Latin is spoken by priests and scholars.

The languages ​​and borders change over time, but it is likely that English remains the number one in our lives.

English speaker’s distribution

The countries with the largest populations of native English speakers are, in descending order: United States (226 million), 23 the United Kingdom (61 million), 24 Canada (18.2 million), 25 Australia (15.5 million) 26, Nigeria (4 million), 27 Ireland (3.8 million), 24 South Africa (3.7 million), 28 and New Zealand (3.6 million) in the 2006 Census 29th.

[image]Countries such as the Philippines, Jamaica and Nigeria also have millions of native speakers of dialect continua ranging from an English-based creole to a more standard version of English. Of the countries where English is spoken as a second language, India has the largest number of speakers of this type. Crystal claims that, combining native and non-native speakers, India now has more people who speak or understand English than any other country in the world.






This research determines some ideas because the importance of English language and its extension by various countries as an official language.

One very important is that English is the language of international communication, trade and finance. English is a lingua franca in many corners of the planet and the official language of many international organizations such as the European Union, United Nations and UNESCO. This is due to historical and political reasons, because of the significance that the British Empire in the past, when he extended his tongue over every continent, and the importance and power of the United States today. For all this we can say that is the universal language, which will help you communicate without barriers.

Learn English means being able to express themselves fluently and smoothly, exposing our ideas with order and clarity to a native audience. That also means understanding and assimilating ideas and answers that others give us, the radio, television, and the texts we read. According to scientific research, study English or learn a language in general produces certain stimuli in the brain that help us to improve our skills in other areas such as creative problem solving, reasoning and mental ability.



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CRYSTAL, D. (2005). The Stories of English. Penguin.

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_____________. Idioma Inglés. Wikipedia. http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idioma_inglés#Estatus_del_idioma

Citar este texto en formato APA: _______. (2017). WEBSCOLAR. Why is english spoken in many places of the world?. https://www.webscolar.com/why-is-english-spoken-in-many-places-of-the-world. Fecha de consulta: 28 de May de 2024.

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