English (/ˈɪŋ(g)lɪʃ/) is a Germanic language. It is spoken as a native language in many communities, and used as a worldwide lingua franca in business and academia. Consequently, it is a language with considerable prestige, and is learnt by many English language learners.
There are many varieties of English, including, but not limited to, American English (AmE), Australian English (AuE), British English (BrE), Indian English, South African English, Canadian English, Chinese English and so on. This wide-ranging reality has led to most specialists now preferring to use the term the English languages or Englishes.
Number of speakers of English
See main article Number of speakers of English
For various reasons it is difficult to be exact about the total number of native speakers of English but estimates vary from three hundred and nine million to three hundred and forty-one million. This would rank English fourth in number of native speakers after Mandarin Chinese, Hindi/Urdu and Spanish.
On the other hand, if one were to attempt to include the number of individuals who speak English as a second language then the number becomes something in the order of one thousand five hundred million people - a larger number than that of any other language. A 2012 article in English Today by Bolton and Graddol, quoting a China Daily article, states that around 400 million people in China, approximately a third of the population, are currently learning English. A more precise figure, that of 390.16 million people who had learnt English i.e. studied it at school as a foreign language, is quoted by Wei and Su in the same issue.
Additionally, English is used in international trade and industry to a greater extent than other languages. English is the only language for international air transport communications.
History of English
See main article History of the English languages
Notwithstanding its many varieties, English has a long and varied history which is, not unnaturally, bound up with the history of Britain, the British Isles and its peoples.
Modern English is the product of various Germanic invasions, the Norman conquest, the British Empire and much else.
- wikipedia - languages by native speaker
- Graddol, D. "The great China English puzzle" Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 6th October 2012.
- Bolton, K. and Graddol, D. "English in China today" in English Today Volume 28, Issue 03, Sept. 2012, pp 3-9 English Today. Retrieved 6th October 2012.
- Wei, R. and Su, J. "The statistics of English in China: An analysis of the best available data from government sources" in English Today , Volume 28, Issue 03, Sept. 2012, pp 10-14 English Today. Retrieved 6th October 2012. (Available free of charge until the 31st October 2012.)