Lingua Globa: How English Became 'Globish'


How did a mongrel tongue born on a small island in the north Atlantic become the globally dominant language now known as English?


That's a question Robert McCrum tries to answer in his new book, Globish, which explores the way English took the world by storm over the course of several centuries. It's a story that begins back in the first millennium, when the language spoken in England wasn't even called "English."


The Britons, who first inhabited the isle of Britain, spoke Celtic languages. Their culture was forever altered when Anglo-Saxon raiders began invading England around 500 A.D., bringing with them their own Germanic speech.


Continue reading the transcript or listen to the story online at NPR.

 

Tags: English, books, history, language

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Here is another link:

SAYING THE WORLD

A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but you still need a word to describe that glorious smell. In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge, Saying the World. We'll try out new words from the online world with a New York Times language blogger - words like YakkaWow and suicide cuisine. Also, the rise of a new world language called Globish.

SEGMENT 1:

As the world gets smaller, cultural collisions are all around us, including the language that surrounds us. We're constantly searching for new and better ways to communicate. Blogger Ben Schott's job for the New York Times is to troll the internet for new and noteworthy words. He tells Steve Paulson these words tell us volumes about the times we live in.

SEGMENT 2:

When most of us are having trouble find the right words to make sense of the world, we turn to writers. They usually let their books do the talking, but occasionally we get to hear it straight from the authors themselves. Richard Fairmont recently produced a set of CDs for the BBC that include rare recordings of the prominent writers. They're called "The Spoken Word: British Writers" and "The Spoken Word: American Writers." Fairmont tells Steve Paulson all about it. Also, the search for a common tongue has moved us in many directions. To the surprise of many, English has filled in the gaps, or at least a version of English. Robert McCrum is the author of "Globish: How the English Language Became the World's Language." He tells Jim Fleming how English became Globish.

SEGMENT 3:

In such a complex world, sometimes simple is best, and what could be simpler than a bumper sticker? Menlo School philosophy teacher Jack Bowen isn't fooled, however. In in book "If You Can Read This: The Philosophy of Bumper Stickers," he points out that restricting yourself to eight or nine words can be far more complex than you would expect. He tells Anne Strainchamps how he got interested in bumper stickers.
How did a mongrel tongue born on a small island in the north Atlantic become the globally dominant language now known as English?

I have a similar question, about fantasies born from the mind of a cattle-herder, near Ur, a few thousands years back ;-)

Their culture was forever altered when Anglo-Saxon raiders began invading England around 500 A.D., bringing with them their own Germanic speech.

Interestingly, I just found out this alternative theory:

English is usually assumed to have developed in England, from the language of the Angles and Saxons, about 1,500 years ago. But Dr. Forster argues that the Angles and the Saxons were both really Viking peoples who began raiding Britain ahead of the accepted historical schedule. They did not bring their language to England because English, in his view, was already spoken there, probably introduced before the arrival of the Romans by tribes such as the Belgae, whom Caesar describes as being present on both sides of the Channel.

[...]

Germanic is usually assumed to have split into three branches: West Germanic, which includes German and Dutch; East Germanic, the language of the Goths and Vandals; and North Germanic, consisting of the Scandinavian languages. Dr. Forster’s analysis shows English is not an offshoot of West Germanic, as usually assumed, but is a branch independent of the other three, which also implies a greater antiquity. Germanic split into its four branches some 2,000 to 6,000 years ago, Dr. Forster estimates.

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