How English Became the Global Language
by David Northrup
PE1073 .N67 2013
New Arrivals, 2nd floor
Thoughts of this book and last week’s new book, Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing, brought up memories of my first time visiting Norway (the country, not the Wisconsin town). While Norway does have it’s own Norwegian swear words, everyone I met swore in English. Where did that come from? While I have my own suspicions, the historian David Northrup has done some in-depth research into the broader topic of the English language and has the weight of scholarship behind him. He doesn’t cover the topic of cursing, but does get into British and American colonial English, Scientific English, Academic language, popular culture, such as Rap and Mac, and the World Wide Web, to name a few of the subjects.
This short, fascinating, and well documented book seems at first geared more towards the lay person than the research scholar, but they will get something out of it too. The extensive references and notes are quite informative and useful. In the introduction, Northrup states that over the millenia, the number of languages has both grown and shrunk. Some becoming extinct, while at the same time others grow and prosper. English has been in the latter group for quite some time, and he details reasons this is so. One reason is that “English is the new Latin” (p. 148) in Europe and is increasingly important in Asia and the Middle Ease as well. In other words, academics and the educated across the world are embracing it. You’ll have to read How English Became the Global Language to find out more.
If you’ve read this book and/or have something to say about it we’d love to hear from you. Just reply below.