Who uses English?

Who uses English in the world and how it is reflected in the language?

There are three types of English speakers in the world today, each with a different relationship with the language.

The first-language speakers…

are those for whom English is the first—and often the only—language. These native speakers live in the countries in which the dominant culture is based around English. The countries are increasing in linguistic diversity as a result of immigration. The first type created a diaspora of native speakers of English (US, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand) with each settlement eventually establishing its own national variety of English. The Irish and Australian English is considered to be the equal to British English.

The second-language speakers…

have English as a second or additional language. The speakers may use a local form of English, but may also be fluent in international varieties. The typical country for example is Nigeria, where colonial settlements were part of the total population and gave access to learning English as a second language. The second (India, West Africa, East Africa) made English an elite second language, frequently required for further education and government jobs.

The third group of English speakers…

is a growing number of people learning English as a foreign language. The linguistic consequences of the third type are complex, including the creation of new hybrid varieties of English. According to the British Council, over one billion people are currently learning English worldwide, and about 1.5 billion people speak English both as a foreign language and as a Second language. The difference between these groups is the following:

  • People who speak English as a Foreign Language use English occasionally for business or pleasure.
  • People who speak English as a Second Language use English on a daily basis.

Linguists say that exactly American English has a great influence on General English and changes it. At the moment even British English is changing under the pressure of American English, not to mention Canadian, Australian and other English. Any Englishman will refute it, but this is true!   

 As more and more people speak English, it seems that they will start to control more of the English resources being produced and have a say in what should or shouldn’t be included in dictionaries and language books.  This model, however, will not be the most useful for describing English usage in the XXI century. Obviously, the more English influences speakers, the more speakers will influence English.  We can see evidence of these changes in English all the time.

 


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