According to Barber (2000) it is estimated that the world has 300 million native English speakers and another 300 million who use the language as a second language. In addition to this there are another 100 million people worldwide who use the language as a foreign language. English has gained great importance in the, present world. There is no doubt that English enjoys a prestigious position in the present day world affairs. It is the language used computing, science tourism, aviation and diplomacy. The language is listed as the official language in over 45 countries worldwide and also spoken extensively in several countries where it does not enjoy the official status. This is far extensive than French which is spoken in 27 countries, Spain in 20 countries and Arabic in 17 countries. Historians conquer that this dominance is very unique. Although speaker of other popular languages such as Arabic, Spanish, and French may totally disagree with the fact that English is on its way on becoming the present world’s unofficial international lingua franca. Currently, Mandarin (Chinese) is the language spoke by many people in the world. However, English is the most extensive lingua franca in the world (Barber, 2000).
Extent of the Spread of English
Half of the business deals through out the world are conducted in English this clearly illustrate the position that is held by English in the corporate arena. It the science arena English is even more dominant with over two thirds of scientific papers and reports written in English. It is the language used by 98% of world chemists and physicists in their research activities. Similarly, over 70% of mail/ post is addressed or written in English. New items from various parts of the world indicate that the language has inarguably achieved a global status. New from various parts of world are reported in many parts of the world are know broadcasted in English. Local in places like Africa, America, Asia, or Balkans are normally interview in English in new items. This certainly is a manifestation of the extent of the spread of English. Even world figures like the late Pope John Paul sometimes spoke in English in order to reach many people. For instance, at the height of his service to the Roman Catholic, he visited Middle East and chose to speak retracing the Christian footsteps in English instead of using the comm. More languages in this region; such as Arabic, Italian and Hebrew or even his native Polish.
In Asian Trade Group ASEAN English is the official working language. It is also the language used by the European Central Bank despite the fact that the bank is not situated in England but in Frankfurt. Surprisingly, no predominant English speaking country including Britain is a member of the European Monetary Union. Black parents in Africa and Indian parents overwhelmingly want their children to learn English. Currently it is estimated that worldwide over one billion people are being taught English (Algeo & Pyles 2010).
Another noteworthy aspect associated with the spread of English is the adoption of the language by other European language. Many European nations are also adopting English as their second language. From north Europe and south Europe, English is getting rooted in countries such as the Scandinavian countries as the second language. Sweden, Netherlands, Norway and Denmark currently use English as the second language. Although it is not official it seems that everyone in these countries speaks English with great ease. Many television channel in countries such as Holland broadcasts in English or use English subtitles
At the start of this decade, as part of the European Year of Languages, there was conduction of a special survey the lead to the publication of a report about the attitudes of the Europeans towards their languages. The report published in 2001 confirms that English is used widely as both a second language and a foreign language in many countries. 43% of the Europeans stated they frequently used English as a second language to their mother tongue. Many people in Sweden speak English more than any other non native English country. Actual 89% of the population in Sweden can speaks English fluently. This however grandly contrasts with the small number of Spanish and Portuguese English speakers standing at 36%. Also in the report English is rated as the most important language with over 77% of the European who don’t speak it considering it important. Other languages were rated far bellow English with French being rated 38%, German 23% and lastly Spanish 6%.
Societies That Were Involved in the Development of English
Various societies were involved in the development of English to what it is today. The earlier societies involved were the Saxons, Jutes and the Angles whose name if the source of the words English and England. The Vikings also made their contribution through the imparting of Germanic word to the language. Along the line, Latin words were brought in through the Roman Empire conquest and the spread of Christianity. This was to be further influence in the Middle English period by the Normand Nobles who brought in numerous French and romance words. Later, during renaissance period and industrial revolution Latin word were imparted to language making it more sophisticated. At this time the British interacted with virtually the whole of the world through their empire and thus got influenced by virtually every language and nation of the world.
Countries Speaking English Today
As discussed earlier English is spoke in more than 45 countries as an official language and others as a second language. In total English is spoken in over 95 countries in the world (Crystal, 2003). The countries that use English include; Antigua, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize. Bermuda, Botswana, Brunei (with Malay), Cameroon (with French), Canada (with French), Dominica, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India (with several Indian languages), Ireland (with Irish Gaelic), Jamaica, Kenya (with Swahili), Kiribati, Lesotho (with Sotho), Liberia , Malawi (with Chewa), Malta (with Maltese), Mauritius, Namibia (with Afrikaans), Nauru (with Nauruan), New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan (with Urdu), Papua New Guinea, Philippines (with Tagalog), Puerto Rico (with Spanish), St Christopher and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, Senegal (with French), Seychelles (with French), Sierra Leone, Singapore (with Malay, Mandarin and Tamil), South Africa (with Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu), Surinam (with Dutch), Swaziland (with Swazi), Tanzania (with Swahili), Tonga (with Tongan), Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom and its dependences, United States of America and its dependencies, Vanatu (with French), Western Samoa (with Samoan), Zambia and Zimbabwe (Krysstal, 2010).
English has certainly managed top achieve a global recognition and is undoubtedly on it way to become the world unofficial lingua franca. Language is generally accepted and spoken in many countries. The development of this language is very interesting the language has developed for many years changing with every generation until it was standardized in the 18th century. The language has also managed to acquire vocabulary for virtually everything that exits in the world. Perhaps this is what make it the most suitable language for business, science and other professions.