Saturday, 11 July 2009

The English Language

"The greatest legacy the English have bequeathed the rest of humanity is their language. When an Icelander meets a Peruvian, each reaches for his English. Even in the Second World War, when the foundations were being laid for the Axis pact between Germany, Japan and Italy, Yosuke Matsuoka was negotiating for the Emperor in English. It is the medium of technology, science, travel and international politics. Three quarters of the world's mail is written in English, four fifths of all data stored on computers is in English and the language is used by two thirds of the world's scientists. It is the Malay of the world, easy to learn, very easy to speak badly; a little learning will take you quite a long way, which is why an estimated one quarter of the entire world population can speak the language to some degree. By the late 1990s, the British Council was predicting that the turn of the millennium 1 billion (a thousand million) people would be learning English." Jeremy Paxman: The English

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