Why is English so popular? What is it that has helped establish English as a global language? During the late middle English and early modern English periods it was expected that approximately only between five and seven million people spoke the English language. Now, more than 1.5 billion people are speaking the language, with it recognised as the second largest language in terms of both native speakers and those who use it as a second language worldwide.
So how did English get so popular and earn its recognition as “The Dominant Language”?
Why Is English So Popular
Why is the English language so popular now? Well, it has earned its popularity for a number of reasons. English is the dominant or official language in a number of countries, including many former British Empire territories. The rise of the British Empire offers many clues as to why the English language is so popular! Not only does the British Empire play an important role in the popularity of English today, but the rise of the United States, and developments within the science and technology industries have also helped to position English as a global language!
How Did English Get So Popular
So, you’re probably thinking, something must have happened to help earn English its popularity. Well, the reality is, that there are a number of reasons for why English is recognised as a dominant international language. Some of the reasons for the English Language’s popularity today include: The rise of the British Empire and The United States, developments within the science and technology industries, and the fact the English Language is gender free, among a number of other reasons.
The British Empire
The rise of the English language is largely down to the rise of the British Empire. After developing in the British Isles, English was spread across the world via trade! In fact, one of the main goals of the British Empire was trade (buying and selling goods). England was so focused on trade that the English Language became the dominant language of business in locations such as Asia and Africa, although few Britons settled in these parts of the world, explaining why English didn’t ever manage to become the language of the people in these locations.
In many of the countries which were once part of the British Empire, English is still the official or semi-official language. Just look at countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and Canada!
The Rise Of The United States
In the late 19th Century, we started to witness the rise of the United States! While Europe was recovering from the first and second World Wars, the USA was thriving! Business in America took off and the language of trade continued. The influence American businesses had, combined with the tradition of English as the language of trade, helped to contribute to the English Language’s popularity today.
In fact, American English seems to be becoming even more popular than its traditional counterpart. Just look at Hong Kong for example, a former British colony. In Hong Kong, more and more are opting to learn American English rather than the British variety. And the simple reason for this? The rise of the United States! The people of Hong Kong believe learning the American variety will be the most advantageous for their future.
Science & Technology
Once upon a time, Latin used to be the language of science. It was common for researchers and scientists to publish their work in Latin as well as their native language. However, in the modern day, the majority of scientific research is published exclusively in English. Look at terms such as permafrost, oxygen and hydrogen, all of these are scientific terms, but did you know these terms actually have origins in Russian, Greek and French?
The development of English as the language of science is rather interesting! In the 1900’s, Latin was replaced by German as the language of science. But after World War 1, Belgian, French and British scientists boycotted scientists from Germany and Austria. German and Austrian scientists were blocked from conferences and were not able to publish their research in Western European Journals. This resulted in two scientific communities, one German, which operated in defeated Germany and Austria, and another which operated in Western Europe, primarily in English and French. It was at this point that the English Language started to earn its position as the dominant language of science.
The English language also dominates the technology industry, with the majority of software’s, operating systems, websites and programmes all written in languages based off of English.
English Is Gender Free
Unlike many other languages dominant in Europe and other parts of the world, English is gender free. There is no masculine or feminine! Some would consider this advantageous, and others would still consider English incredibly complex. German, French, and Spanish all adopt grammatical gender, and it does have its benefits. But, the benefits of a gender free language speak for themselves! You don’t need to worry about whether something is masculine or feminine, and the spelling of words will always remain the same regardless of a person’s gender.
Is English The Most Popular Language?
Now we’ve taken a look at why English is so popular and how it got there, what about other languages? Although English is recognised as “The Dominant Language”, it is only the 3rd largest language spoken by native speakers worldwide. The English Language is outweighed in terms of native speakers by both Mandarin and Spanish. In terms of usage as a second language, English is the most popular followed by French. And when looking at those who speak English natively and as a second language combined, English comes in second position, just behind Mandarin. So, although English may not be the “official” most popular language, it is definitely up among the top few.
Will English Always Be Popular?
It’s hard to believe that the English Language will ever lose its popularity. But you can never say never! No one foresaw the rise in the popularity of the English Language, just like nobody can predict when, or whether, it will ever lose its popularity! If the United Kingdom and The United States continue to maintain the influence they have today, then it’s hard to see English ever losing its place as a dominant global language anytime soon.
If you would like to discover more about why the English Language is so popular and how you can develop your skills, then why not consider an English Language Course with LTC today. Our courses are designed to make the most out of your time in England, allowing you to perfect your English skills in an authentic environment. If you would like to find out some more information, then please contact us today either by filling in our contact form, by emailing us at: email@example.com, or alternatively, by calling us on: 01323 727755, and a member of staff will be happy to help. Perfect your English skills with LTC today…