Difference between revisions of "English"

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'''English''' is the [[language]] we all [[teach]].  
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'''English''' is an [[Indo-European language|Indo-European]] [[Germanic language|Germanic]] language that is lightly [[Inflection | inflected]],  [[stress-timed]] [[language]].
  
==History of English==
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It is the subject that [[TEFL]] teachers [[teach]].  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'''.
  
The English language has a long and varied history which is, not unnaturally, bound up with the history of England, the British Isles and its peoples.
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Within the UK itself, regional varieties abound, such as [[Cockney]] and [[Estuary English]] in London or [[Scottish English]] (with variants such as Glaswegian) with major differences in the spoken language, and teachers must be aware of such differences when working on [[pronunciation]].
  
One of the consequences of this long and varied history is that English [[spelling]] no longer corresponds particularly well with English [[pronunciation]], giving rise to calls for spelling reform.
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== Number of speakers of English ==
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''See main article [[Number of speakers of English]]''
  
==Number of words in English.==
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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]].<ref>[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_number_of_native_speakers wikipedia - languages by native speaker]</ref>
  
Although you will sometimes find statements to the effect that "English has more [[word]]s than any other language", the situation is by no means so clear cut.
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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.<ref>[http://cup.linguistlist.org/2012/09/the-great-china-english-puzzle/ Graddol, D. "The great China English puzzle"] [[Cambridge University Press]]. Retrieved 6th October 2012.</ref><ref>[http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayFulltext?type=6&fid=8691693&jid=ENG&volumeId=28&issueId=03&aid=8691692&bodyId=&membershipNumber=&societyETOCSession=&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0266078412000223 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.</ref> 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.<ref>[http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayFulltext?type=6&fid=8691696&jid=ENG&volumeId=28&issueId=03&aid=8691695&bodyId=&membershipNumber=&societyETOCSession=&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0266078412000235 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.)</ref>
  
Then there is the question of how we count "words".
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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.
  
How would one count conjugations? Past participles used as adjectives? Species names for flowers and insects which are common to all languages? Chemical names? (With these you can dwarf the number of "normal" words in any language.)
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== History of English ==
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''See main article [[History of the English languages]]''
  
Then there are agglutinative languages which make up "words" on the fly by combining elements - giving rise to the alleged vast number of "words" for snow in Eskimo languages. How would you count those?
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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.
  
Equally difficult is the question of whether a word is actually used - it may exist but be so obsolete that it isn't used any more. Do we count it or not? Do we count slang? Do we count regional words? Do we count a word if it is used in the UK but not in the US or in all international varieties of English (including Indian English, which has a large selection of words from native languages.)
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Modern English is the product of various Germanic invasions, the Norman conquest, the British Empire and much else.
  
If a word has two spellings, does that count as one word or two? Or two past participles like "lighted" and "lit" or "dived" and "dove"?
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==Vocabulary==
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''See main article [[Number of words in English]]''
  
One could count the words in a dictionary and do it that way - but which dictionary? English dictionaries vary wildly in the words they include. One might use, say, the OED, but a very large proportion of the words in that are simply dead.
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English has always freely absorbed words from other languages giving it the ability express a wide number of [[nuance]]s. Nevertheless establishing the exact number of [[word]]s is not as exact a science as one might suppose.  
  
Another solution might to try to estimate the vocabulary of the average speaker, but even this presents difficulties. Partly because we all have an active and a passive vocabulary and partly because we can often "know" words we have never seen before, either because of their context or because they are made up of other parts of words we already know.
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== See also ==
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*[[American English v. British English]]
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*[[Learning English conversation questions]]
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*[[Standard English]]
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*[[World English]]
  
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== References ==
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<references/>
  
{{Stub}}
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==External links==
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*[http://www.macmillandictionaryblog.com/which-english David Crystal on English as a Global Language] [[David Crystal]] (interview on video)
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*[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZI1EjxxXKw&feature=channel Global English with David Crystal] [[David Crystal]] (interview on video)
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*[http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/ar-eng1.htm "English is difficult"] [[World Wide Words]]
  
  
[[Category:definitions]]
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[[Category:Definitions]]

Revision as of 01:51, 5 July 2019

English is an Indo-European Germanic language that is lightly inflected, stress-timed language.

It is the subject that TEFL teachers teach. 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.

Within the UK itself, regional varieties abound, such as Cockney and Estuary English in London or Scottish English (with variants such as Glaswegian) with major differences in the spoken language, and teachers must be aware of such differences when working on pronunciation.

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.[1]

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.[2][3] 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.[4]

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.

Vocabulary

See main article Number of words in English

English has always freely absorbed words from other languages giving it the ability express a wide number of nuances. Nevertheless establishing the exact number of words is not as exact a science as one might suppose.

See also

References

External links