You’re using ‘language’ each second of your waking life, and even when you’re not exactly awake and aware of your conscious thoughts. Have you, however, ever wondered about this wonder called language? What is it? Where did it come from? What would the world feel like without it? Would you even be able to think about it?
On the UN English Language Day, we give ourselves the liberty of pondering on the English language, and telling you some interesting facts about it! Check if you knew about the magnitude and spread, along with the history of English.
1. English is one of the widest spoken languages in the world, with over 380 million native speakers! 840 million is the number of total English language speakers, who use it as either a first or second language. And yet, it falls short of being the most spoken language in the world. Can you guess which language is spoken by the most of number of people? Well, its Mandarin, with English coming second!
2. Where do you think English was born? The first answer to hit our head is Britain, but hold on. It was actually brought to Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers from the region corresponding to current North-West Germany. We’re talking of a time as old as 5th to 7th century CE. Yes, the language is that old!
3. While English is certainly very, very old, what we speak today is nothing like what it used to be when it began. What we speak is modern English, the genesis of which is fairly recent, around 14th century. If you were to read a passage written in English from a time earlier, we bet you’ll not be able to comprehend.
4. Do you know who the first writer/poet in English was? It was this person named Geoffrey Chaucer, who wrote the much read, acclaimed and recommended book – Canterbury Tales. This, at least, is the name on which we have the widest consensus among scholars.
5. English language, arguably, is also the richest in vocabulary. Being the lingua franca of the world, it is including more and more words in its lexicon each year. There is no simple way to determine how many words are there in English language, but the second edition of the 20 volume Oxford English Dictionary has 171,476 words. How is that for a reference point? Oh, and of course, thousands of words keep getting added each year, thus further increasing this number.
We hope you had fun reading these engaging facts!