Why is English a global language?

Well, we could go on a jaunt through history and trace the reasons for English’s emergence as a global language back hundreds, if not thousands of years. But let’s not.

Essentially, one of the vast reasons is the expansion of the British empire into the Americas, Australia, Canada, and a huge number of other regions around the globe. This led to large English speaking populations. These countries developed rapidly and emerged as global powers, especially the USA. This led to English dominating the language of areas such as commerce and technology. Add in the global power of the USA, and the invention and expansion of the internet, and it’s not difficult to see how English came to be a global language.

There have been a range of international languages throughout history, including Arabic, French, Latin, and many more. The reasons for their use and the expansion are as always, complex and imbued with historical, political and economic factors. It is unlikely that any of these languages though, reached the stage of internationality and global recognition that English has reached. It will be interesting over the next hundred years to see where English goes; at the moment the language is showing no signs of slowing down, although it is changing in certain regions, and more and more varieties of English continue to emerge. One author who has written prolifically about the globalisation, spread, internationalisation, and future of English, as well as the past, is David Crystal, a renowned linguist. His work comes highly recommended by us.

There is also an excellent history of English, animated, published by the Open University UK on YouTube. Check it out if you have time.