English is far more world wide in its distribution than all other spoken languages. It is an official language in 52 countries as well as many small colonies and territories. In addition, 1/4 to 1/3 of the people in the world understands and speaks English to some degree. It has become the most useful language to learn for international travel and is now the de facto language of diplomacy. In 2001, the 189 member countries in the United Nations were asked what language they wish to use for communication with embassies from other countries. More than 120 chose English, 40 selected French, and 20 wanted to use Spanish. Those who wanted English to be the common language included all of the former Soviet republics, Viet Nam, and most of the Arab world.
Approximately 375 million people speak English as their first language. English today is probably the third largest language by number of native speakers, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. However, when combining native and non-native speakers it is probably the most commonly spoken language in the world, though possibly second to a combination of the Chinese languages (depending on whether or not distinctions in the latter are classified as "languages" or "dialects)". Estimates that include second language speakers vary greatly from 470 million to over a billion depending on how literacy or mastery is defined. There are some who claim that non-native speakers now outnumber native speakers by a ratio of 3 to 1.
English as a global language because English is so widely spoken, it has often been referred to as a "world language", the lingua franca of the modern era. While English is not an official language in most countries, it is currently the language most often taught as a second language around the world. Some linguists believe that it is no longer the exclusive cultural sign of "native English speakers", but is rather a language that is absorbing aspects of cultures worldwide as it continues to grow. It is, by international treaty, the official language for aerial and maritime communications. English is an official language of the United Nations and many other international organizations, including the International Olympic Committee.
The English language belongs to the western sub-branch of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family of languages. The closest living relative of English is either Scots, spoken primarily in Scotland and parts of Northern Ireland, or Frisian. As Scots is viewed by linguists as either a separate language or else as a group of dialects of English, Frisian rather than Scots is often said to be the next closest. After those are other Germanic languages, namely the West Germanic languages (Dutch, Afrikaans, Low German, High German), and the North Germanic languages Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, and Faroese.
English is a West Germanic language that originated in Anglo-Saxon England and has lingua franca status in many parts of the world as a result of the military, economic, scientific, political and cultural influence of the British Empire in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries and that of the United States from the mid 20th century onwards. It is used extensively as a second language and as an official language in Commonwealth countries and is the preferred language of many international organizations.
A keen young teacher wanted to introduce her class to the glories of classical music, so she arranged an outing to an afternoon concert.
To make the occasion even more memorable, she treated everyone to lemonade, cake, chocsandices.
Just as the party was getting back into their coach, she said to little Sally, "Have you enjoyed yourself today, honey?"
"Oh, yes, miss" said Sally, "It was lovely. All except the music, that is."
Miss Jones had been giving her second-grade students a lesson on science. She had explained about magnets and showed how they would pick up nails and other bits of iron.
Now it was question time, and she asked, "My name begins with the letter 'M' and I pick up things. What am I?" A little boy on the front row proudly said, "You're a mother!"
GOD IS WATCHING
The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray, "Take only one. God is watching."
Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. One child whispered to another, "Take all you want. God is watching the apples."
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