English as a world language – maturitní otázka z angličtiny



Otázka: English as a world language

Jazyk: Angličtina

Přidal(a): E.S.



1) The importance of English

the Indo – European family/language -> the Germanic l., the Slavic l., the Celtic l., …

English is a West Germanic language originated in England and the first language for most people in Australia, Canada, the Commonwealth, Ireland, New Zealand, the USA and of course the United Kingdom (= anglosphere). It´s used also as a second language in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, South Africa.


3 groups of people speaking English – it is their:

– native language

– second language (bilingual society)

– administrative, profesional or educational l.


Modern English is sometimes described as a lingua franca (= a common language spoken by two people who do not have the same home language). English is the dominant international language in communications, science, buisness, aviation, entertainment, radio and diplomacy. The reason for spread of the language is influence of British Empire and following World War II.

English has the largest vocabulary of all the world´s languages (500 000 words in the Oxford English dictionary). This figure dwarfs the French and German languages.

But in Shakespeare´s time, for example, only one milion people spoke English. It was unknown to the rest of the world. Exporting of E. began in the 17th century with the first settlements in the North America. Above all, it is the great growth of population in the United States assisted by massive immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries. And that has given the English language its present standing in the world.



  • historical reasons – Because of the legacy of British or American imperialism, the country´s main institutions may carry put their proceedings in English (parliament, civil service, the schools, …)
  • internal political reasons – E. may play role in providing a neutral means of communication between different ethnic groups in the country. A distinctive local variety of E. may also become a symbol of national unity or emerging nationhood.
  • external economic reasons – The USA´s dominant economic position acts as a magnet for intenational business and trade so organizations wishing to develop internaional makets are thus under pressure to work with English.
  • practical reasons – E. is developing its role in international maritime, policing, emergency services.
  • Itellectual reasons – Over 80% of all informationsstored in eectronic form is in English. The only way to acces to such authors as Goethe or Dante is through English.
  • Entertainment reasons – E. is a language of popular music, popular culture and advertising, satellite broadcasting, home computers and video games.


2) Basic characteristic

SIMPLICITY OF FORM – Old English had many inflections = different forms of words in different situations (plural, tense, person,…)

types of languages – synthetic l. = a lot of inflections (Old English, Germanic, Czech, …)

-analytic l. = we need to distinguish the meaning with word order (Modern English), (A dog is chasing a cat and a cat is chasing a dog.)



English has become a very flexible language. Without inflections, the same word can operate as many different part of speech. Many nouns and verbs have the same form, for example swim, drink, walk, kiss, look, smile.



This involves the free admissions of words from other languages.


3) History

The history of the English language started with the arrival of 3 Germanic tribes – Angles, Saxons and Jutes- in 5th century AD. They crossed the North sea from what today is Denmark and nothern Germany. At that time the Celtic language was spoken, but the most of Celtic speakers were pushed west and north (what is today Scotland, Wales, Ireland) by the invaders. The Angles came from Englaland and their language was called Englisc -> from which the words England and English are derived.

Germanic tribes displaced also the Romans occupiers that speak vulgar latin. Before the time of Romans, Gaelic – the language of the Celts – was in use. Gaelic gave name to places such as for example Thames, Avon and Wye. Roman occurs in place names: Londonium became London.


Two main sources for English:

  • Latin – 50% of English is derived from latin
  • French


OLD ENGLISH (450 – 1100)

The invanding Germanic tribes spoke similar languages, which in Britain developed into Old English. Old English did not sound or look like English today. Nevertheless, about the half of the most commonly used words in Modern English have Old English roots, for example: be, strong, water. Old English was spoken until around 1 100.


Features of Old English

  • highly inflacted ( = O.E. is synthatic language)
  • case (4) – nominative, genitive, accusative, dative; „possesive genitive“ – the house´s back (O.E.) X the back of the house (M.E.)
  • distinguish gender – masculin, feminin, neutral
  • flexible word order – the verb can precede subject or it could stand at the end of the sentance after the object
  • the use of multiple negatives – double/triple


In 1597, Christianity arrived in Britain. Abbot Augustin was sent to Britain to spread Christianity there. He founded monasteric centres – monasters (for men), nunneries (for women) and cloister (for both). Here first monks started to create first monuscripts ->latin glossaries were translated into English. At this time the first narrative poem named Beowulf was created. It is epic, so we can find here many informations how the O.E. looked.


Christianity brough with it both Latin and Greek which:

1) allowed English language to express abstract thoughts, something almost impossible with the )previous Anglo – Saxon vocabulary

2) gave English a large vocabulary related to the Church: angel, devil, priest, bishop, Sabbath

3) also brought with it foreign words from the East: orange, pepper, India, ginger

4) inspired the Anglo-Saxons to use their own words for different concepts. The Old English words od heaven, hell and God took on a new meaning with the arrival of Christianity


Between 750 and 1050, the Vikings (Danes) conquered a large part of the British Isles. Before their arrival, Old English was strongly inflected. The influence of Danes was to eliminate ending and to simplify the language. Vikings also changed the personal pronoun into „they“. This kind of word transformation – changing personal pronoun – is realy rare. Some of Vikings words for places are still in use, for example Debry, Grimsbym Rugby, Selby. It is the most often a village that ends in -by. Other words derived from Vikings are: get, leg, skirt, skin, want, same,…


MIDDLE ENGLISH (1100 – 1500)

In 1066 William the Conqueror (from Normandy) invaded and conquered England. Normans brought with them a kind of French, which became the language of the Royal Court, and the ruling and business classes. The lower classes spoke English and the higher classes spoke French. The Latin was in use by the Church.

Poor ordinary people who prepared norman feasts spoke English -> so they called animals in English (pig, cow). On the other hand the nobility who spoke French named already prepared meat on the table (boeuf (fr.) -> beef; porc (fr.) ->pork)

In 14th century the English became dominant language again, but with many French words added. It was a language of the great poet Geofrey Chaucer = runner of Modern English). Since 1362 the English became the official language in E. Parliament.

Two trends appeared in English:

1)decay of the Viking influence

2)expansion of French and Latin




A change in pronunciation started with the Great Vowel Shift, when the vowels were pronunced shorter and shorter. The Renaissance of Classical learning and more contact with people from other parts of the world meant that many new words and phrases entered the language. The invention of printing also meant that there was now a common language in print. Books became cheaper and more people learned to read. Printing also brounght the standardization to English. Spelling and grammar became fixed. In 1604 the first English dictionary was published.

The King James Bible is the most influential book connected with English. Standarts of modern English are written here.

LATE MODERN ENGLISH (1800 – present)

The main difference between Early M.E. and Late M.E. is vocabulary. Late M.E. has many more words because of two principal factors: the Industrial Revolution and technology and the British Empire (it covered one quarter of the earth´s surface.


4) SE, dialects, accents

Standart English (SE) is considered the „correct“ spelling, pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. SE is often called the „Queen´s English“ or „BBC English“.

Dialects are varieties of language that differ in pronuncation, vocabuary and grammar from each other and from SE.

Accents describe only pronuncation, so an Englishman may speak SE, but with regional accent.

The Cocney Rhyming Slang is a coded rhyming language invented by Cocneys in 19th century in order to they could speak in front of the Police without being understand. It uses phrases that rhymes with a certain word which you want to say. Example:

  • I fell down apples and pears (= stairs)
  • That pen and inks (= stinks)


For Scotish accent is characteristic its rolling „r“.

The Welsh famous for singing , speak with a „lilting sing – song quality“.

Irishman is easy to detect by a American – sounding accent and pronunciation of „th“ as „t“.

Australian and New Zealand use words from their indigenous populations.

LINGUA FRANCA – it is a term for common language spoken by two people who do not have the same home language



American English has more native speakers than any others form of English. American E. is flexible, ever – changing language. It has taken many words from the other languages spoken by the early American settlers such as Dutch, German, French and Spanish.

When the first English speakers arrived in America they met native Americans who spoke many different languages and dialects. European trappers and traders learned words from the natives so they could do business with them. Some animals names are of native American origin: skunk, moose, chipmunk. The natives worked as guides to lead the Europeans through areas of land completely unknown for settlers. In this way, they learned many of the native place names.

Movie English – a lot of people outside US first get to know American English through movies. The word movie is today uniquely American.

Advertising has been responsible for some unusual spelling such as: night->nite; light->lite.

Noah Webster is most famos of all american dictionary-makers, supported idea of eliminating letters in words that were not pronunced in a word.

British E. X American E.

honour X honor

centre X center

travelled X traveled

film X movie

Have you got a pen please? X Do you have a pen?

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