English language

West Germanic language originating in England

The English language is a language that originated in England. It is one of the more widespread and most widely spoken languages in the world.


  • The gift of a common tongue is a priceless inheritance and it may well some day become the foundation of a common citizenship.
    • Winston Churchill, speech at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (September 6, 1943); in Robert Rhodes James, ed., Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963 (1974), vol. 7, p. 6825.
  • To boldly go is rhythmically very neat. The Star Trek scriptwriter hasn't been linguistically bold at all.
  • Five generations ago, Britain was ashamed to write books in her own tongue. Now her language is spoken in all quarters of the globe.
  • The English-speaking world may be divided into (1) those who neither know nor care what a split infinitive is; (2) those who do not know, but care very much; (3) those who know and condemn; (4) those who know and approve; and (5) those who know and distinguish....
  • [A speaker who uses a multiple negative] spreads as it were a thin layer of negative colouring over the whole sentence instead of confining it to a single place.
  • The name ["split infinitive"] is misleading, for the preposition to no more belongs to the infinitive as a necessary part of it, than the definite article belongs to the substantive, and no one would think of calling "the good man" a split substantive.
    • Otto Jespersen, referring to split infinitives, in Essentials of English Grammar
  • I say looking at the next 100 years that there are two trends in the world today. The first trend is toward what we call a type one civilization, a planetary civilization... What is English? English is the beginning of a type one language. Everywhere I go around the Earth, people speak English because that is the lingua franca of science, technology, business. They all speak English. It is the number one second language on the planet Earth.
  • Fussing about split infinitives is one of the more tiresome pastimes invented by nineteenth-century grammarians.
  • Johannes Diderik van der Waals (1837–1923) graduated in 1873 in Leyden with a thesis that would make him famous. It was in Dutch ... The famous ... physicist James Clerk Maxwell, much impressed with this piece of work, remarked that it had prompted quite a few researchers to take up the study of the 'Low Dutch Language'. ... In 1910, Van der Waals received the Nobel Prize, but the 'Low Dutch Language' never made it as an internationally accepted language of science, which in previous centuries had been Latin and Greek, later German, French and English. Today, to the regret of some, all science happens in English.

British vis-à-vis American EnglishEdit

  • It is a misfortune for Anglo-American friendship that the two countries are supposed to have a common language. A Frenchman in America is not expected to talk like an American, but an Englishman speaking his mother tongue is thought to be affected and giving himself airs. Or else he is taken for a German or a Dutchman, and is complimented on his grammatical mastery of the language of another nation.
    • Bertrand Russell, "Can Americans and Britons Be Friends?", Saturday Evening Post, 3 June 1944.
  • The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language.
    • George Bernard Shaw, widely attributed beginning in the 1940s, e.g. Reader’s Digest (November 1942). Not found in his published works.
    • Variant: The English and the Americans are two peoples divided by a common language.
  • We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.

See alsoEdit

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