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Why English?

As a result of international treaties, English is the official language for aeronautical and maritime communications. English is one of six official languages of the United Nations. It is the official language of many international organizations.

English is an official language or the language of government in 60 sovereign states. English does not have official status in both the United Kingdom and the USA.

English is taught in schools in India, Japan, China and others such as Singapore.

Approximately 375 million people speak English as their first language. Mandarin Chinese is spoken by over 800 million. And there are over 325 million Spanish speakers. But English is probably the most common language in the world if one considers a combination of native and non-native English speakers.

A hundred years ago French was the language of international commerce. Five hundred years ago, it was latin.

Lee Kuan Yew, born 1923, who is often described as the founder of Singapore, has been a supporter of the use of English. In the book Lee Kuan Yew, The Grand Master’s Insights …. by Allison, Blackwill and Wyne (2012), Lee states:

While Singapore shares with China many of the core philosophical tenets of Confucianism, we worked over the past forty years to establish English as our first language and Chinese as the second. Why? ….. We did so to open ourselves to the world and allow ourselves to engage and embrace the main forces of discovery and invention and creativity that occur not only in the language but also in the mentality of English.

……. If one is to succeed, one will need a mastery of English because it is the language of business, science, diplomacy and academia.

…… English is the common language of the world and the Internet. However, we must not lose our basic strengths, the vitality of our original cultures and languages.

……. America’s strengths include ….. a language that is the equivalent of an open system that is clearly the lingua franca of the leaders in science, technology, invention, business, education, diplomacy, and those who rise to the top of their own societies around the world.

Modern English has assimilated languages from all over the world. The growth and grammar of English is not regulated. Much like Wikipedia, order seems to rise out of accepted usage. Great debates have taken place when a new edition of a dictionary includes new usage. There is agreement that the number of English words is growing. But there is no agreement of the rate of growth.

The growth of English was due in part to the British colonization from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Another reason offered is the popularity of American movies. A major reason for the popularity of English is that it is the language of the USA, a global economic superpower and a leader in higher education.

The future of the use of English or of any language, is a matter of prediction that is based on many events that may be unknowable. The investor and author Jim Rogers says that the best advice that one can give to your children and grandchildren is to learn Mandarin Chinese – see A Gift to My Children by Jim Rogers (2009).

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