What are the specific qualities of english? What distinguishes this language from the others? I know for a pure linguist these questions are a non-sense and without interest. But do you really think that if english is so widespread it is due to the economic, politic, scientific and military power of the USA? Or is it because english is particularly flexible, morpholologically simple and made of monosyllables (the basic vocabulary is almost entirely monosyllabic)?
What do you think about it? I hope this subject has not been already discussed in another thread.
We all know what makes English attractive, don't we? :-) As I see it, its appeal lies first of all in the absence of verbal inflections, genre and noun classes, which make it seem so easy at beginner's level, and which partly compensate for the unique phonological qualities and sometimes illogical spelling. But overall I would not say that the usage of English is so simple, there are some peculiarities that may cause difficulty on an advanced level (it this wasn't so, there would be no need for this forum, would there?...).
I guess the above is common knowledge, but more interesting for me is the fact that many older non-native speakers have problems to "tune in" to English, and for them it may be a pain in the neck to master it properly (based on my experience in Eastern Europe and Mediterranean countries, especially Italy), same for people living in the countryside. In my view educated young intellectuals or technocrats with good access to authentic sources seem to catch up the most with the culture of which English is (or shall I say "used to be"?) the vehicle: a globalistic, cosmopolitan world view characteristic to some colleges and universities, especially in Europe and in the East Coast of the USA. The other important group is adolescents who have been born into a globalised culture which is dominated by English, many of them use it as if it were their own.
I definitely think most people speak English nowadays because of American influence, which goes back to the time (50's to the late 80's) when the US had a particular appeal as a country of innovation and technical development. I don't think the rising anti-US sentiments today will turn this tide, because English is not directly associated with the US, much less with Britain any more, as long as you can communicate in it with speakers of at least a high school education from all parts of the world, whether native or non-native.
In my opininon the widespread of English is due to the American culture. However, in many countries English has turned into an elitistic language and moreover many people speak it uncorrectly
Your analysis is very clever and particularly the last sentences about the fact that english is no more associated to the USA but is, nowadays, the "global language", the linguistic tool of a cosmopolitan culture.
Sorry, i made a mistake; better write "associated with".
"But do you really think that if english is so widespread it is due to the economic, politic, scientific and military power of the USA? Or is it because english is particularly flexible, morpholologically simple and made of monosyllables (the basic vocabulary is almost entirely monosyllabic)?"
I think it is mainly because of the economic, politic, scientific and military power of the USA. If some other language was as simple as English, but it was spoken in some distant place that no one knows about, trust me, nobody would learn that language. On the other hand, if Americans spoke Chinese instead of English, we would all have to learn Chinese. LOL :)
<< rising anti-US sentiments today>>
Oh, Easterner!.....you noticed it too? ;-(
Damian, do you think we may speak about english as a "cosmopolitan language"? I guess this cosmopolitan feature makes it so widespread and popular because everybody can identify with it (maybe due to the multiethnic composition of the US population).
Oh, gosh! Those anti-american sentiments are all over! Looks like the world entirely turned their backs on the US. What's wrong? Of course, it's en vogue to be a part of some anti-capitalist resistence movement, to rebel. But why do so many people accuse Uncle Sam of their own problems? Why don't they blame on their own authoritarian rulers, economic policies, etc.?
I believe this ugly trend will sooner or later come to an end and I can't wait for it. But to my mind, even the worst times of anti-americanism won't prevent English from spreading around the world. Culture is way too different from politics and English is already so much dominant, with a huge infrastructure of teachers of English, libraries, movie and literature archives, and active speakers of English, travelling around the world, politicians, using it for communication, etc. So I reckon that it's too late for any stupid reason to turn it all upside down. So in my view English IS COSMOPOLITAN. And there's nothing ill about it!
Current world opinion has nothing to do with the English language as such, or that it is (officially or unofficially, who the heck knows what the true status is) the language of the United States of America. This "ugly trend" you speak of is not really a topic to be discussed in here and I suppose the rest of us outside your country should truly learn to suppress our feelings in this forum, however hard that is to do. Please don't ask "what's wrong?" and speak of vogues though, as if the negative sentiments you mention are just a worldwide whimsical trendy fad. They plainly are not. Nuff said.
Antimoon is all about language and related issues.
English is a language that is spoken all over the world and we can easily understand this language and wide spread of engish is not due to the culture of any country.
ash said: >>English is a language that is spoken all over the world and we can easily understand this language and wide spread of engish is not due to the culture of any country. <<
I partly agree with this. English would never had spread to five continents (including Asia, although there are no large English-speaking native communities there) without the British Empire and American influence. On the other hand, nowadays most non-natives use English not as a direct consequence of the colonial past, but rather because they find that it is present on all continents and is also used by a huge number of non-natives even after the collapse of political colonisation, regardless of cultural background and skin colour. As I know, a separate version of English has been developing in South Asia, which is only partly due to the the fact that Australia is nearby. You may have a critical attitude to whatever English-speaking country, but this will not prevent you to use English with educated speakers from most countries.
By the way, maybe the USA was the first country where English was adopted as a common language spontaneously, without anybody telling people to do so (I mean those Dutch, German or Swedish settlers who did not come from Britain). What we witness today is much the same, but on a worldwide scale. On the other hand, it may take at least one or two more generations before everybody is likely to speak English as their preferred second language.
I didn't speak about "ugly trend"
"On the other hand, nowadays most non-natives use English not as a direct consequence of the colonial past, but rather because they find that it is present on all continents and is also used by a huge number of non-natives"
Yes, but that is also a direct consequence of British and American influence. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but it's true.
how can u prove that it is true u think that we cannot speak English well. here in Pakistan people speak English.And in India the way of their talking is so nice and sweet.In my opinion it is not saying whatever u r saying.