It may come as a surprise to many, as some leaders clamour for a national language, that both the US and also the UK have no national language. In fact, until the 19th century, the English language was not seen as a unifying force in the UK, as majorities in Ireland, Scotland and Wales did not speak it and many of their various kings also struggled with its usage. English slowly became the primary language through usage rather than coercion. Even in Ireland, it is more true to say that Gaelic fell out of common use rather than being forced out of public life.
Slowly people realized that to be able to communicate meant knowing the language everybody was speaking in.
It was demand that forced the issue and English became the UK’s used language.
A few decades ago, while visiting Spain, I was at a loss because I did not know Spanish. I remember ever so clearly getting lost in Valencia and asking a passerby, directions by repeating the name of the hotel. Soon a crowd gathered and it was like a tornado of words descending on me, and not a word did I understand.
With all the directions I was given I was still lost.
And that is what will happen to us when we don’t know what the world is saying!
But I went back to Spain many years later after it had become part of the EU and was surprised to find that most everybody knew English now. Obviously, there had been a sea change in their way of thinking, and locals realized that however passionate and nationalistic they were about their language, if they were to survive globally, it was all about being understood by the rest of the world.
One of the reasons we are respected the world over is because of our excellent knowledge of English. Time and time again on my trips abroad, I have been appreciated for the command over the language and very frequently asked if I’d studied outside India. “No!” I reply with pride, “All my education was in my own country!”
Germany, which has never been happy with England, now teaches English as a first language in their schools.
Not only is language about communication, but also about imbibing words to explain the latest technological ideas, inventions or findings. Every day is a revolutionary day and the language that carries the burden of communicating these advancements is English.
If we, or our leaders don’t know how to speak it, let us not belittle English, but spend time learning it. It would be cheaper to have a budget to train our worthy men and women in its usage than the billions, or maybe trillions we will lose not understanding what the world is saying, later..!
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3 thoughts on “Speak the World’s Language..!”
I’ve noticed people who speak good English r respected. There r lots of people who want n work hard to master English. Fortunately I had a very good background.
Absolutely ????. Well said.
Excellent advice Bobby. In our own country the North and South have to speak to each other in English to communicate as well as in South with English,as each state has it’s own mother tongue. Technical terms, medical terms, chemical names etc. are in English.