English, the international “Lingua Franca”

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The colonisation of other countries by people from Britain,notably in North America, Canada  and Australian, has contributed to the worldwide use of English as a mother tongue, as a second language, and more recently as the lingua franca used by many people for communicating in a common language. In the countries which belonged to the British Empire, such as India and Nigeria, English is the heritage of the colonial period. In these countries English is used as the official or second language. The local people start learning English from an early age since in their country it is necessary for education, the media,the legal system and commerce. The great number of people who use English as a means of communication for travel and work has made it a world-wide phenomenon and the age of the satellite has accelerated this process.

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English was originally spoken in Great Britain by Anglo- Saxons.  However, the language the British speak today is the result of a long evolution. English was enriched by Scandinavian elements after the raids of the Vikings on Britain. When William the Conqueror, The Norman King, conquered England in 1066, many French words were adopted by the Anglo- Saxons, especially in the language of goverment. The first mass exportation of English was in the seventeen century in North America. Today the United States of America is the largest community of English speakers, but American English is different from the English spoken in the United Kingdom, and the main differences between the two varieties concern phonetics and vocabulary.The present standing of English, the language which has the largest geographical extension in the world , is partly due to the industrial and technological achievements of the United States of America.

Besides, since the last century, English has been, for the most advanced countries in the world, the common language for international communication, in such different fields as international air traffic control, sea navigation, and international business conferences and also websites are in English.That is why the total number of people speaking English for different purposes is unknown but it is a vast population.

English is the lingua franca of the world and most foreigners use it to understand each other so it will be useful wherever you go. There are some formal features thanks to which English plays the leading role among languages: it is a very flexible language with few inflections and many compounds and many adopted foreign words.

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Cristina Calvano

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