With only 1,500 words, Globish rules the world.

THE English language was not around when Julius Caesar landed in Britain 2,000 years ago. Some 500 years later, English, hardly comprehensible to modern ears, was spoken by a handful of people.

A thousand years after that, during the era of William Shakespeare, English was spoken by perhaps six or seven million Englishmen, and to quote a linguist at the time, “still of small reach, it stretched no further than this island of ours”.

How times have changed. Around the 17th century, English started to be exported to all corners of the globe. By the end of the 20th century, it had become the most widely spoken and written language in the world. Today, English in one form or another is understood by at least four billion people on planet Earth, hardly 400 million of them native speakers. English is truly the first global language.
English is not perfect. In fact, its imperfections are a boon to the language. It is not guarded by any institution, such as our Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) or Academie Francaise. These are the custodians of Bahasa Melayu and French respectively. True, as early as 1660, John Dryden argued for an academy “to regulate” English usage. It did not happen.

by Johan Jaafar, Featured Columnists, NST.
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