How the English Language Became the World's Language

eBook - 2010
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A small island in the North Atlantic, colonized by Rome, then pillaged for hundreds of years by marauding neighbours, becomes the dominant world power in the 19th century. As its power spreads, its language follows. Then, across the Atlantic, a colony of that tiny island grows into the military and cultural colossus of the 20th century. These centuries of empire-building and war, international trade and industrial ingenuity will bring to the world great works of literature and extraordinary movies, cricket pitches and episodes of Dallas, the printing press and the internet. But what happens next is quite unprecedented. While the global dominance of Anglo-American power appears to be on the wane, the English language has acquired an astonishing new life of its own. With a supra-national momentum, it is now able to zoom across time and space at previously unimaginable speeds. In Robert McCrum's analysis, the cultural revolution of our times is the emergence of English, a global phenomenon as never before, to become the world's language. In the 21st century English + Microsoft = Globish.

Globish takes us on a riveting and enlightening journey of the spread of a global English, from the icy swamps of pre-Roman Saxony to the shopping malls of Seoul, from the study of 'Crazy English' TM in China to crowds of juvenile wizards mobbing bookshop tills across the world. Along the way it gives new meaning to a faded old brown parchment (the Magna Carta), a 272 word presidential speech (the Gettysburg address) and a scratchy black and white film of a couple of men in space suits.
Publisher: [Toronto] : Doubleday Canada, [2010]
Copyright Date: ©2010
ISBN: 9780307374578
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xii, 331 pages)


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Feb 24, 2016

A quick run through English history up to 1945 and then the explosion of English as a second language in far flung countries. ( Globish ) Much of this book ends up being fairly obvious for anyone who has traveled and knew a little history though there are some interesting and useful tidbits throughout. Worth reading if you are interested.

Oct 20, 2014

I wasn't entirely impressed by this book. The point that the author tries to make is that English has become the world's mode of communication. That's a given, but the suggestion is made that what has emerged as the world's English - "Globish" as he calls it - isn't American English, or British English, but something entirely different. Too much history is blown through to suggest where we've gotten to now. This would have been better done as a scholarly work with a lot more examples. A fair primer, but that's all it is.

Apr 14, 2014

Globish --- by Robert McCrum. McCrum brings to this book a considerable amount of experience in the literary industry as both an editor and an author. In this book he attempts to throw some light on how English became the Globish, the common, albeit second, language of much of the world. The story of this global English is, however, during the period of its incubation, the story of England and, later, its offshoots, the US and, to a lesser extent, Australia, New Zealand and Canada where English is the first language (in Canada for about 70%). So McCrum takes us on a forced march through the history of England (only the most salient points, of course): the Norman Invasion; the age of exploration; British Imperialism; the Great Wars (One and Two.) The second half (or should I say 20%) of the book tells of the spread of Globish to the non-English part of the world: India, Africa, even its advance into China where it has become the `lingua franca` of the worlds of diplomacy, finance, science, communications and mass tourism. The degree to which this has become a reality is perhaps best evidenced when authors who’s first language is anything but English, are awarded literary prizes for books they have written in English, their non-native language. This book is written in a very accessible style: not at all dry or pedantic. Informative, enlightening, readable. With extensive notes, index, and an ample bibliography.

ksoles Jun 20, 2011

Indian linguist Madhukar Gogate first used the term "Globish" to name his invented English dialect, which he presented to the Simplified Spelling Society of The U.K. in 1998. As with most spelling-reform attempts, "Globish" never moved beyond the theoretical but British editor Robert McCrum has taken up the word and defined it as the version of (somewhat broken) English that has become the world's lingua franca.

"Globish" has a fascinating premise and McCrum does provide moments of captivation, especially when he describes the contemporary use of English overseas. Largely, however, the book deals less with language and more with socio-economic developments within the increasing English-speaking world. The book begins with a painfully slow history of Britain and never really picks up steam, rendering most of the book eminently "skim-able."

ser_library Jun 09, 2011

i enjoyed refreshing my knowledge of Alfred and Henry V

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