In today’s digital society, knowledge of other languages has become a pre-requisite for global business, communications and cultural exchange. Take the EU and Europe in general as an example, and we can see how so many countries have learned to co-exist peacefully in politics, business and cultural appreciation, using knowledge of each other’s languages to interpret our needs and objectives for the benefit off all our societies.
Of course, specific language groups take precedence due to the size of their economies, historical influence and the number of speakers across large geographical areas. These major world languages include German, Portuguese, French, and Spanish, and of course English, which we will discuss at greater length later. In addition, other major languages such as Arabic, Chinese and Russian have a huge part to play in the modern world for the very same reasons.
This is not to say that smaller language groups and specific dialects are not as important, they are. The rich tapestry of languages worldwide provides us with a living record of our evolution, beliefs and values. However, in the hard and fast world of the modern age, knowledge of a major language group is essential to ensure the survival of these smaller groups. Scandinavian countries such as Denmark, Norway and Sweden are excellent examples of how a small language group have managed to preserve their culture and language and yet, develop into modern thriving societies.
English is the significant other language that the majority of Scandinavian citizens understand and speak at a fairly high level as a second language, and without threatening the survival of their own languages and dialects. This knowledge of English has helped them develop more international influence and business connections as English is now the primary language of business and communications globally.
English language: Origins
The birthplace of modern English has its roots in England and lowland Scotland, through the expansion of the British Empire from the 17th century onwards, the language began spreading across the globe mainly through colonisation, trade and print media. In the 20th century, The United States greatly increased the spread of the language, again through trade and media but with the added influence of the entertainment industry especially music, cinema and television.
In the modern world, the major varieties of English are currently American English, British English, Canadian English, Australian English, Irish English and New Zealand English. Other significant varieties are spoken in South Africa, India, The Philippines, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago who speak standard and English dialects. Certain African countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone also use English as their primary language.
This linguistic heritage is a legacy of the British expansion globally throughout the globe from the 17th to early 20th century. English was established as the lingua franca for International trade in these countries and this heavily influenced their education and political structures in using English as a primary language up to the present.