English: The Miracle of Language
English: The Miracle of Language Latin 3 Journal 2/3/2007
What I Learned
The English language has a long and varied history. It is one of the broadest languages and one of the most inclusive. One out of eight people speak English, including most of all international commerce and business. English is a combination of several languages, including Latin, which was mixed together over thousands of years. English started in Britain, in the middle of the fifth century CE. The Anglo-Saxons invaded to Britain and brought along their Low Germanic tongue.
When the Norman French invaded 200 years later, they lost ties to French and adopted English. Middle English formed with the addition of some French words to the language.
Latin words entered English during the first century when the Romans occupied England. However, the Norman Conquest brought many Latin words in directly and via French. In addition the Catholic Church spread Latin words throughout modern history.
The Renaissance period, after the Dark Ages, created an interest in classical Greek and Latin. Today many scientific and formal words are from Latin because science advanced greatly during this time.
After all of this mixing and spreading, English formed in Britain as a combination of Anglo-Saxon, French, and Latin and Greek. This means that there are plenty of ways to say the same thing. For example you can ask, question, or interrogate. Also each of these has a small change in meaning. Interrogating is different then just asking. In addition, words from French have a grander and courtliness, while Anglo-Saxon words make up the short and core words.
English spread through the United Kingdom’s imperialism, as well as the post WWII superiority of the United States. In addition, as immigrants moved to America, more words were added from different languages from all corners of the globe. Lastly, English is very hospitable and mongrel like. We take any word without worrying about gender or case or complications like that. This makes English also easier to learn because there is no complicated structure.
Should English be made the official language of the world and be transitioned as the tongue everyone speaks? It would certainly make things easier to communicate. There would be no need to translate everything into different languages. Students would have access to the wide pool of knowledge, consisting mostly in English.
Why choose English? English already has such a large installed base. Computers all are programmed in English. Communications and international debates all take place in English. The English language Wikipedia has more then 3 times the articles of the runner-up, in German.
Plus people are learning English already. For example, I observed during my trip to Germany, that almost every child learns English. Why shouldn’t everything in that country be done in English. Perhaps that can’t be done now, but in 50 years. Then tourists could come and understand everything and everyone.
The loss of language might be considered a destruction of culture for some. But what harm does the loss of a language bring? As long as the documents are translated from the old language, little will be lost.
But the costs must be weighed against the benefits. A global language can benefit us greatly.