ENGLISH : THE SUCCESS STORY OF ITS EXPANSION


Today, English is a language spoken all around the world but it wasn't the case 400 years ago. How the English language, spoken by 4 million people at the end of the 16th century, has become the international language that we know today with more than 2 billion speakers ?

English is currently the second language in most countries. It's also used in the most important fields like science, culture, aviaton, international diplomacy and commerce. It is one of many reasons why more people speak it and learn it as a second language than native speakers, for examples 2 thirds of scientists read English and 4 fifths of all electronic communication are in English.

But before this current situation, English was just a language spoken on an island in Europe (today's Great Britain) . During the antiquity, Great Britain was inhabited by Celts and Romans who spoke Celtic languages and Latin. In 410, Angles and Saxons invaded Britain and brought with them the base of English which evolved with time. For a millenium until the colonial era (600-1600 AD), English was just spoken by 4 million people but thanks to the British colonial expansion the number of English speakers exploded.

Indeed, what helped the English language is the fact that Great Britain is an island: this forced them to cross oceans to conquer new lands, which created the British empire. This empire was composed of one quarter of the world population and one fifth of the total world land. The monarchy managed to keep the empire together and it contributed to the rise of the English language as we know it, an international language. Other factors helped the English language to rise as an international language: the industrial revolution, international commerce, the two World Wars which were won mostly by English-speaking countries, the collapse of the USSR, information technology and popular culture (music, movies...). We must not forget that the power of English today is also linked to the power of the people who speak it.

Text by Pedro MACHADO (602) and Samuel ROUSSEL (601)

Illustration “English Language Around the World” found by Marie GUILLAUMIN (602) and Chloé LOPEZ(602)

Les élèves du groupe 1 de première LVA - anglais (Langue Vivante Approfondie) se sont penchés sur l'origine de la prépondérance de l'utilisation de l'anglais en tant que langue internationale de communication. Comment en est-on arrivé à la situation actuelle ? Un concours d'article a été réalisé sous la houlette de leur professeur, monsieur Coicaud, et le meilleur article en anglais vous est proposé ici à la lecture. Nous pouvons féliciter tous les élèves pour leur travail de recherche et de rédaction.


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