Cuenca High Life logo

Expat Life

English rocks and it’s no wonder why it’s become the world’s default language

English, the ugly-duckling lovechild of a tense marriage between old Saxon and French, is now the world’s flagship language of commerce.

Why? Because learning English is as easy as driving Spanish highways. No rules, only exceptions, and spoken accents don’t matter! People from Scotland have no trouble understanding Texans. (Aussies can always resort to pen and paper when interacting with New Yorkers.)

English is practical! A simple experiment proves that English is more efficient than its three mother tongues. Counting the letters in “no,” “nein,” and “non” proves that using English conserves as much as 50% of letters required by its parent tongues.

English saves money! That’s why business-minded, multinational corporations adopt English as their official tongues. Using English means fewer keystrokes are needed to transmit unambiguous messages like, “To help reduce costs, your job will be moved offshore tomorrow.”

A book printed in English requires fewer pages than its translation in any other language with the possible exception of the whistling tongue of La Gomera Island. Books may be history, but the trees saved by printing them in English continue to provide life-sustaining oxygen to our planet.

In addition to being environmentally friendly, English is politically correct, free from sexist articles and oversensitive adjectives. Unlike the testy masculine and flirtatious feminine nouns in the appropriately named “Romance languages,” calm, egalitarian English nouns don’t chafe against gender stereotypes. Why is a Spanish table feminine and a French wall masculine? In English, nouns are free to just be themselves! Hoping to reduce counterproductive sexual tension among nouns, the politically correct Germans added a neutered gender which, eunuch-like, confuses all and satisfies none. (Seriously, why is a German wiener schnitzel feminine?)

Relax! By speaking English, you can say more with less breath. In French films, tightly crafted English subtitles typically finish long before the movie ends. German filmmakers are forced to extra car crashes, fight scenes, and expensive special effects to buy time for their ponderous dialogue catches up with the subtitles.

Spanish may be a great language for creating sentences with triple negatives, but nobody nowhere don’t care none about grammar in English these days. No way. No how.

Perhaps the real reason to learn English is to fully connect with the 20th Century’s crowning cultural achievement: Rock and Roll. French may be the language of love songs, and German may have a slight edge in heavy metal, but rock and roll clearly works best in English. Thanks to anglophone pop music, five centuries of Western self-proclaimed civilization has been distilled down to simple chords and progressions that can accommodate even the shortest of attention spans.

As the universally acknowledged “Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World,” the Rolling Stones are inundated with lucrative sponsorship opportunities (their recent tour was subsidized by Ibuprofen). The Stones are in a position to endorse any language on any planet for their official tongue. When Mick Jagger needs an entire stadium to shout lyrics like “Yeah, yeah, yeah…whoo!” only the Queen’s English will do. It’s rumored that China offered the Stones a billion dollars to sing “Honky Tonk Woman” in Mandarin, but they don’t get no satisfaction chanting “No! No! No! Hey! Hey! Hey!” in any other language. (Disclaimer: Guitarist Keith Richards appears to sing in English, though nobody’s sure what language he’s using when speaking.)

So, crank up the volume, step on the gas and roll down your windows. Now, throw back your head and shout loud and clear: “yeah, yeah, yeah … whoo!”

The best thing about English?  “It’s easy. It’s so easy. Like stealing candy from a baby.”
__________________

R.S. Gompertz is a native of Southern California who currently lives and writes in Seattle. He recently completed a tour of Mexico and South America during which he spent several weeks in Cuenca. His most recent book, “Life’s Big Zoo,” is available on Amazon. For more information about his life, work and travels, click here.