Thursday, January 10, 2013

Do U English?


English     noun
-    The West Germanic language of England, now widely used in many linguistic varieties throughout the world.

How does one define something as all-encompassing as English?  The language defines so much of the world we live in today.  It’s how we communicate, how we understand, and the way we do business.  English has gone viral around the world, and it doesn’t even have a YouTube video.  The world speaks English, reads English, writes English, and studies English.  It has touched just about every square inch of this planet that the human race has inhabited.  Yet how can we begin to define the scope of something without knowing how it’s used?

English can be used as a noun; there’s no doubt about it.  I just did it.  How about as an adjective?  Can we use the English language as an adjective?  Done!  Supposedly, it can be used as a transitive verb if followed by an object, such as if you’re going to translate something.  I’ve never heard this before but let’s try it.  He’s going to English Don Quixote.  To me, it just doesn’t sound right.  And I imagine grammarians hate this argument – it doesn’t sound right!  But why shouldn’t our ears be guidelines to linguistic acceptability?  I for one would like to hear English used as an intransitive verb.  Let’s give it some action.  We were Englishing at the restaurant, when we overheard the people behind us Spanishing.  I kind of like it!  And why can’t we play English?  We can speak it, write it, read it, and listen to it.  I’d much rather play English than do any of those other things.  I think it would also make a great adverb.  If only something could look, sound, or feel Englishy.  Like many things in this world, English has rules.  Rules should be followed, but quite often they are broken.

The beauty of the English language is that it's adaptable.  The more people who try to learn English, especially as their second language, the greater the variance we see in the way it's both spoken and written.  Today, English the most widely-used second language in the world.  According to estimates by the British Council, about 750 million people speak English as a foreign language.  It's also believed that over a billion people are currently learning English worldwide.  Countries and empires will not conquer the world, bu the English language just might.

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