Everybody speaks English. Or they should.
That’s the attitude that many English speakers have, and sometimes they’re not shy about expressing that attitude (in English, of course).
Jacob Mikanowski writes about this attitude in a long and interesting essay this week in The Guardian. He says:
No language in history has been used by so many people or spanned a greater portion of the globe. It is aspirational: the golden ticket to the worlds of education and international commerce, a parent’s dream and a student’s misery, winnower of the haves from the have-nots. It is inescapable: the language of global business, the internet, science, diplomacy, stellar navigation, avian pathology. And everywhere it goes, it leaves behind a trail of dead: dialects crushed, languages forgotten, literatures mangled. Behemoth, bully, thief: how the English language is taking over the planet | News | The Guardian
Mikanowski points out that the attitude that people should speak English has been around for a long time and cites Theodore Roosevelt, for one, who said in 1919 that there was room in America for only one language.
So, speak softly — but make sure it’s English you’re speaking.
Additional note: While I recommend this article as interesting and informative, I caution readers about assigning human qualities (like attitudes) to non-human items (such as a language). Languages don’t have attitudes; people do.
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