Americans are lucky. Without hardly trying we learn the "world's language."
It is English, hands down.
Half the planet, up to 4 billion people, speak English correctly or mangled. The important thing is, they make themselves understood.
French used to be rated the front-runner for an international understanding. The "language of diplomacy," so-called. But globalization happened. And far more speakers around the world want to buy or sell than sit down and make treaties.
Separated over the ages into a babel of 5,000 linguistic groups, mankind has at times seemed readier to kill than to comprehend each other. Experts invented artificial languages to try to unite us, like Esperanto. Sometimes it's been thought the war of words would be won by the most numerous. Chinese, anyone? But thousands of printed "characters" are just too many for average word-users to learn, not to mention the swarm of dialects in China itself.
Plus, a new commercial reality grows clearer every day: the Chinese are learning English by the millions. No secret why: to make deals everywhere.
A word has been invented, "Globish," to describe how English travels -- light, with only about 1,500 words, loose grammar if any, deserving no more than a C at school but ... it works. In business between a Japanese and an Egyptian, a speaker of Swahili or Norwegian, none may learn the other's language but all know English. A little. At least those who mean to get ahead.
"In every country struggling to participate in capitalist democracy it is Globish that provides the main avenue of advancement," British author Robert McCrum decisively asserts. …