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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.”
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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.

5 thoughts on “English rocks and it’s no wonder why it’s become the world’s default language

  1. Germany has a lead in heavy metal not. Couple bands including Ramstein and Heaven Shall Burn, HM in the US rocks bud I could name so many bands your ears would burn. Actually some pretty good heavy metal at La Barraca in Cuenca.

    And here I am trying to learn Spanish and you are telling me how good English is, ouch. But its true I admit.

    I do respect people who choose to learn a second (or more) language. It is common in Europe, I watch a fair amount of tennis and almost all the pros know 2,3 or more languages, amazing.

  2. This is not a new observation. Almost forty years ago, Alvin Toffler (of “Future Shock” fame) put out “The Third Wave.” (1980) One of Toffler’s observations was that English is the most popular international language in the world. Unlike the writer’s observation above, however, Toffler attributed English’s popularity to the fact that of all the languages in the world, English is the one language you can slaughter with incorrect grammar, syntax, and pronunciation and the other person will still understand you. This is English’s greatest strength : it resists precision and formality. Even Winston Churchill was chided for using incorrect English. His crime? His frequent ending of sentences with a proposition. He famously silenced his critics with his famous line: “This is errant pedantry up with which I shall not put!”

  3. Being a teacher of English and having been a teacher of English for many years -at universities–Oil and Gas companies—online-let me add that English is not an easy language for others to learn. Why? Because there are rules with many exceptions as well as those pesky phrasal verbs. Have you tried to understand a Kiwi speaking on the telephone? Same language but a whole different accent involved. English has its place in the world of commerce but it is not without its many challenges for would be students. I love teaching it—makes you aware of its complexity and simplicity at the same time.

    1. Agreed! English also has many vocalizations that can be difficult depending on one’s language of origin (like the “th” sound). Strange pronunciations for sounds like “ph” ( pronounced “f”) or “ough” (where the consonants are sometimes silent, sometimes not). It must be very tough (pronounced “tuff”) to learn!

  4. English is the international business language. Air traffic controllers and pilots speak nothing else when on duty everywhere in the world.
    However, the US has an antidiscrimination law that otherwise requires that the government, businesses, and certain others provide 54 language translations for documents, etc.

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