The rise of English is unbelievable, the mother of all success stories. When Julius Ceaser landed in Britain over two thousand years ago, English did not exist. A thousand years later Englisc as it was called began to be spoken but it was not recognizable as the English of today. No one believed it would leave Britain but just remain the native language. But that was not to be. It has become a force to reckon with. Today the contrast is amazing to say the least. It has evolved into a global power carried by travelers from and into every corner of the globe.
The statistics of English is astonishing. It has the richest vocabulary -about 500,000 words not counting the half-million uncatalogued scientific and technical terms. Whew!
Not surprising , considering the fact that three –quarters of the world’s mail, telexes and cables , are in English. It is the language of technology, computer, sports and glamour, it is the official language of the Olympics . All the broadcasting companies use English and it is also the voice of Christianity. Need I say more?
English has become a second language in countries like India, Kenya, Nigeria and Singapore. It is a vital, alternative language tool unifying diverse populations. English is also taught as a foreign language in countries like Holland and Yugoslavia. So English has risen much above being a colonial legacy, it has evolved into many englishes. Confusing, but true.
The establishment of the English public schools for the nobility and the Education Act (1870) brought about a divide. The speech of the educated elite contrasted drastically with the eminent Victorians. Even teachers started rebuking any child who said ‘loike‘ for like or ‘doyed' for died. In fact Australians still say ‘noise’ for nice!
Picking up accents and intonation in speech became the rage and anyone speaking Non-standard English was passé. Yes we Indians do need English more than any one else. It is rightly said that the last English speaking man would be an Indian! The End