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The Growth and Importance of English as a Global Language - How E...

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The Growth and Importance of English as a Global Language - How English developed from its origins until today. Discusses why it is now the most widely-learned language in the world.

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The definition of a global language, is a language which has been given a specific place within countries and communities around the world, even in places where there are very few native speakers of this language. Although English is not the most widely spoken language in the world in terms of the number of native speakers - there are many more native Chinese speakers than native English speakers - it is described as a 'global language' and Chinese is not. This is because there are few other communities in the world that give Chinese, be it Mandarin or Cantonese, a particular use or function, probably due to the fact that its alphabet is so different from that which is used in the majority of the rest of the world.

It is impossible to know exactly how many English speakers there are in the world, but according to estimates, there are more than 350 million native English speakers and more than 400 million speakers of English as a second, or foreign, language. These figures are especially impressive considering the fact that this mass popularity only came about in approximately the last three centuries.

The English language's influence spans across the globe and is more influential in the world of media, communication, business and government than any other, even in certain countries where English is used, or regarded, as a minority language. It is the language of maritime communication and international air traffic control and is acknowledged as the language of popular culture primarily in the entertainment fields of cinema and music.

The English language's earliest origins are from the Germanic language group. This group began as a common language about 3,000 years ago. Many different European languages developed from this Germanic group, depending on which part of this sector - the region of the Elbe river - they were closer to. For example, North Germanic evolved into the modern Scandinavian languages of Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Icelandic; and...