ENGLISH IN COUNTRIES

 

400 million people speak English as their mother tongue and more than 600 million people speak English as their non-native language. Among the countries, where English is mother tongue belong e.g. the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, the Commonwealth (a voluntary association of Britain and 47 of its former colonies) and many other. In countries such as India and South Africa English is the second official language. And there are plenty of occasions to use English – in administration, business, technology, education, sport, aviation etc.

The English language is of Germanic origin. Old English had many grammar forms, the pronunciation was different as well. But over centuries words have been simplified and in fact have very easy grammar. On the other hand, pronunciation and spelling have become more difficult. Many words can be used as different parts of speech (kiss, smile, drink etc.). English borrowed words form many other languages (French, Spanish, even Czech – “robot”). It is clear that other languages are influenced by the English vocabulary.

Nearly two thousand years ago the Romans invaded Britain and then stayed there for 400 years. The Britons didn’t learn Latin, they continued to speak their Celtic language. The Angles and the Saxons came from Germany and spoke a Germanic language – they invaded Britain in the 7th century, and they pushed the Celtic speakers into Scotland and Wales. Today some people in Wales, Scotland and Ireland still speak Celtic languages. In 1066 William the Conqueror and the Normans invaded England. They came from France and they spoke French. At first the two languages were quite separate. The King and the aristocrats spoke French and the ordinary people went on speaking Anglo-Saxon. And little by little the languages also mixed. The result was English. The grammar was mostly Anglo-Saxon and a lot of words were French. The first book written in English was Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales in about 1378. The setting up of the first English printing press in 1475 by William Caxton was very important – it fixed the language in a sort of „official” form. From that time English has been changing more slowly.

The two main dialects of English are British and American. Some of the most common differences are in spelling, pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar structure. For example, in Britain they often have "ou" together whereas in America they often leave out the "u" in such words as "colour". Pronunciation differs in that the British say can't (kant) and the Americans say can't (kent), for example. One of the main differences in the dialects is in vocabulary with words such as chips (British) and French fries (American), crisps (British) and chips (American), film (British) and movie (American) or underground (British) and subway (American). The last important difference lies in the grammatical structure. The most noticeable grammatical difference is in the usage of the present perfect tense. In American English this tense isn't used as often e.g., they have finished (British) and they finished (American).

There are several good ways for non-native speakers to improve their English. Such ways include listening to English music, speaking to native English speakers, watching films in the original English, playing computer games, having a pen pal, chatting online, travelling (as an aupair, for example), reading books in English, taking extra language courses and working abroad.

One problem with so many people speaking English is that it brings up the question of having one world language. There are several disadvantages as well as advantages to this. Some of these advantages are that people can understand each other and communicate without problems, another advantage is that you can work for international companies. However, at the same time, one language brings about the loss of identity of individual cultures and also makes the world an overall more boring place.
One of the English speaking countries is Canada.