Peter Trudgill (Fribourg, Switzerland): English is a Killer Language
English is a Killer Language Peter Trudgill (Fribourg, Switzerland) 1. Introduction: The spread of English My subject in this paper is „English as a killer language“, but I am also going to talk about the possibility that English may be an endangered language. The latter assumption might seem surprising because many people in these days see English as a danger. They fear that English is going to replace their national or community languages, or they perceive an inherent danger in the large numbers of English words which find their way into other languages. But obviously one should not worry about languages borrowing words from other languages. In fact, about 40% of the English vocabulary is French. Nevertheless, it is understandable why English might be perceived as a slightly threatening language because its expansion as a native language has been remarkable. Four hundred years ago, it was spoken in a very small area of the globe indeed: it was spoken in most of England and in the south and east of Scotland. But it was absent from much of Cornwall and from some of the Welsh marches; most of Ireland was Irish-speaking; nearly all of Wales was Welsh- speaking; the Highlands and Hebridean islands of Scotland spoke Gaelic; the Orkney and Shetland islands were Scandinavian; the Isle of Man was Manx- speaking; and the Channel Islands were still francophone. The expansion of the English language began in the 1600s as a result of the dominance of England, later of Britain, as...
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