ENGLISH is the collective work of millions of people throughout the ages. It is democratic, ever changing, and ingenious in its assimilation of other cultures.Nearly two billion people understand today
English runs through the heart of world finance, medicine, and the Internet, and it across our world. And it seems set to go on. Yet it was nearly wiped out in its early years. In this thoroughly researched and ground-breaking book, Melvyn Bragg shows us the remarkable story of the English language, from its modest beginnings around A.D. 500 as a minor guttural Germanic dialect to its current position as a truly established global language. From the beginning English was battle hardened in strategies of survival and takeover.
After the first tribes arrived it was not certain which dialect if any would become dominant. Out of the confusion of a land, the majority of whose speakers for most of that time spoke Celtic, garnished in some cases by leftover Latin, where tribal independence and regional control were ferociously guarded, English took time to emerge as the common tongue. There had been luck, but also cunning and the beginnings of what was to become English’s most subtle and ruthless characteristic of all: its capacity to absorb others.
Along the way its colorful story takes in a host of characters, locations, and events. From Anglo-Saxon tribes, the Norman invasion in 1066, and on to the arrival of such early literary masterpieces as Beowulf and Geoffrey Chaucer’s bawdy Canterbury Tales. With anecdotes only a novelist as accomplished. The tales of Henry VIII”s battles with the church over bootleg Bibles, and the influence of William Shakespeare, who alone contributed 2,000 new words to the language. With its spread to North America, English expanded with the songs of the Creole slaves, with Lewis and Clark’s expedition West, which coined hundreds of new terms as the explorers discovered hitherto unknown flora and fauna. From street slang and Dr. Johnson’s dictionary to the role of English in India.
Embracing elements of Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arabic, Hindi, and Gullah. This process continues, day by day, to change, along with the English language.
Singlish in Singapore is a good example. English was used in Singapore for a hundred fifty years and when it went independent in 1958, Singapore made it the official language of business and government, partly because English united the diverse population of Chinese, Malays and Indians and partly because of its commercial and financial importance. But alongside official English you also hear Singlish, which grows and develops despite the efforts of the government to root it out. Some scholars believe that Singlish indicates the way in which future Englishes will develop. In so many ways it fits the tongues and the traditions and the vocal rhythms of the people of Singapore much better than official English and could threaten to replace it. And is it not yet another dialect of English?
The Internet took off in English and although there are now fifteen hundred languages on the Internet, seventy percent of it is still in English. And a new form of English has just appeared back at base –Text English.This appeared in an issue of the Guardian early in 2003, under “English as a Foreign Language”:
Dnt u sumX rekn eng lang v lngwindd? 2 mny wds & ltrs?nt we b usng lss time&papr? ?we b 4wd tnking +txt? 13 yr grl frim w scot 2ndry schl sd ok…….I cdnt bleve wot I was cing!:o -!-!- !OW2TE. Sh hd NI@A wot gr was on abut. Sh 4t her pupl was ritng in “hieroglyphics.”
This is yet another English and totally comprehensible to its users, who are mostly young and therefore influential on the future of the language. “I love you” is now more commonly the text “I luv u”.
· It was summarized of Book “The Adventure of ENGLISH. The BIOGRAPHY of A LANGUAGE” by MELVYN BRAGG, 2003