The Oxford History of the English Language

By Lynda Mugglestone | Go to book overview

13
ENGLISH WORLD-WIDE IN
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Tom McArthur

IN 1992, in the preface to Events: A Chronicle of the Twentieth Century, the British historian Philip L. Cottrell noted: ‘The twentieth century has proved to be a turbulent period for humankind. The tempo of change has been unprecedented.’

In 1996, in the preface to Timelines of the 20th Century, the American historians David Brownstone and Irene Franck observed: ‘Our century has been the century of blood and tears, and at the same time a century of scientific breakthroughs that have vastly changed human experience and possibilities.’

In 2003, in World Englishes: An Introduction, the linguists Gunnel Melchers and Philip Shaw, wrote: ‘The worldwide expansion of English … did not truly escalate until after the Second World War’.1

Also in 2003, the British linguist David Crystal noted, in English as a Global Language, that ‘There has never been a language so widely spread or spoken by so many people as English’.2


ENGLISH, ENGLISHES, ENGLISH LANGUAGES

These citations say a great deal in little space about the period in which English grew from prominence to virtual dominance world-wide, in the process acquir-

1 G. Melchers and P. Shaw, World Englishes: An Introduction (London: Arnold, 2003), 6.

2 D. Crystal, English as a Global Language (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 189.

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