English as a global language
Today, people from all around the world speak English. On the whole planet, there is no language to be spoken by more people than English is. In 2006, only around 400 million people spoke English as their main language. However, another 400 million people learned English as their second language, and 600-700 million spoke English as a foreign language. Now, this was ten years ago, imagine just how many people speak English today. But how did English become such a wide spread language?
The English language’s story began in the 5th century, when Germanic tribes, such as the Anglos and the Saxons, came to England. They settled down, and their language was the beginning of what we call English today. It mostly consisted of simple everyday words, and people learned it quickly. Not long after Christianity first arrived, and came with its word. A few centuries later, the Vikings arrived with even more words. These were mostly brutal fighting words and such, but also words like egg. Then in the 11th century, the French came and invaded England. They different kinds of words, for example many more complicated, non-daily words like jury, parliament and sovereign. In total, the Vikings brought around 2000 words, while the French brought around 10000 words.
After the French left, came William Shakespeare. He alone invented around 2000 words. Not long after the first English translation of the bible came, and taught people a bunch of new words. The same happened when scientists decided to speak English instead of Latin. Suddenly, all of your organs had names.
Now, England was tired of getting invaded, and wanted to invade other people for a change. So they decided to travel the world and start some colonies.
The British Empire expanded to all over the world. What is today the United States of America was once part of the British Empire. So was big parts of Oceania, including Australia, Parts of Africa (At one point you could actually walk from Cairo to Cape Town without leaving the British Empire), and India (including Bangladesh and Pakistan). The brits the forced all these people to learn English, and suddenly over 400 million people spoke the English language. In addition, all of these colonies added their own words to the English language, just further expanding the amount of words.
The funny thing about English is that the only English part of it is the words Shakespeare invented. Even its name comes from the Angels. The only thing the British actually did was start the spread. But why do so many people still speak English?
When World War I came around, USA began to take over the role as the most powerful country in the world. Moreover, they, of course, spoke English as well. They made music and movies, which became popular all over the world. When World War II ended, USA had managed to create atomic bombs. They were the most powerful country in the world by far, both military wise and culture wise.
Since USA was so big and important, more people started learning English. Not because their parents spoke it, or it was an official language, but they learned it in school. Especially in Europe, people started learning English. Not only so that they could speak to Americans and Brits, but also to each other. All the sudden there was a language that everybody knew. It became the standard language for international communication. Then the internet started coming.
The internet originated in USA, and so did big companies like Apple and Microsoft. Google was also made in USA, so naturally all these things were in English. This was just an even better reason for people to learn English. Even though websites like Google and Facebook exists in many other languages today, most of the things on the websites are in English. Part of the reason for this is because it is easier for people to post things on the internet in English, both because Americans only know English, and because most Europeans know English as well. Even the Chinese are starting to learn a little English, though they have their own Chinese version of things like Facebook.