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Globish: How the English Language Became the World's Language

by Robert McCrum

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2121093,340 (3.06)2
Robert McCrum, coauthor of the best-selling book and television series The Story of English, shows how the language of the Anglo-American imperium has become the world's lingua franca. --from vendor description

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
I like books about the development of language, and was hoping for good things from this book. But it didn't fully live up to those expectations.

The book is split into several sections, and the first is about the co evolution of the English language and the people of this country. He writes about the way that we have moved from the Celtic languages, and the influx of Saxon, Norse and French peoples and the way that they have shaped the words we speak today. There is a whole section on the American revolution, and the way that the American English and English have devolved; all interesting stuff, but there was a lot of history in this part.

He then goes on to cover how Britain acquired new words from other cultures - i.e. mainly by invading them. It has made our language richer, but the world was poorer for a long time because of it. Other parts of the book cover the two world wars and the influence of the British / American partnership in creating global institutions, UN IMF, that had English as its core language.

The final part covers the way that the world is going now. Lots of countries are insisting that English is a compulsory second language, Mexico for example, and when China starts to work with African countries, they converse in English. That coupled with global trade, outsourcing and so on, means that more people will speak English with an accent rather than learn a different language.

In essence, good, but not great ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
How did a tiny island, beset by wave after wave of conquerors, become the dominant power of one century, and then one of its colonies become the dominant power of another? Language.

Globish explores how English became English, how it spread, and how American English took over the world. The author also explores how a new kind of global English – Globish – will continue to conquer.

This is a fun story about language and its impact. The fact that English is so adaptable and eager to swipe words from other languages, that it’s the language of the people instead of the academy, is why it’s been so successful.

There are many anecdotes and signposts to the future of the language. Some posit that Chinese, on sheer numbers, will overtake English, but the writer makes a good case against it.

Admittedly, you have to be a bit of a language nerd to appreciate this book, but if you are, you’ll delight at it.

Read more of my reviews at Ralphsbooks. ( )
  ralphz | Jul 25, 2018 |
I wish there were a rating for "It was Ok." There were elements of Globish that were interesting, but I felt like it was mostly a disjointed historical account of many different events that seemed to be linked together by the author pointing out that English was spoken during that event or in that place. It never moved beyond a laundry list of all the ways that English has made an impact in the world; the organization was the issue. ( )
  bjoelle5 | Feb 10, 2016 |
A bit long-winded - the writing style wore me down at times. I got the impression that the author likes the sound of his own voice. One might be disappointed if expecting to be plunged straight into a 'Slumdog Millionaire', contemporary account of modern globish: this is primarily a history book. It's not until the last 30 pages or so that we even get into the last 50 years. On the other hand, it's very erudite, very well-researched, and it is important to know why English - sorry, Globish - is so prevalent nowadays.
  Raftus | Jan 3, 2013 |
The thesis of McCrum's book is that English (for which he provides a somewhat scattered historical tail) is evolving into a new language or dialect which he has dubbed Globish. From his account it's really difficult to figure out whether this now has local variants that are mutually incomprehensible, or whether we now truly have a global language.

This is a somewhat scattered book. As at least an amateur historian, I expect a coherent historial narrative, unfortunately this book wanders from point to point trying to prove a thesis. The author does begin at the beginning. The first part I found particularly interesting because it puts Beowulf and Chaucer in context. The narrative mostly focuses on the seminal documents of early English and Medieval history, with an eye toward their lasting impact on the language. A brief account of the Reformation (which he seemed to want to blame on the influence of Anne Boleyn), the King James Bible, and the ongoing impact of Shakespeare.

The second part migrates to the American colonies and seems mostly taken up with a mixture of dictionaries and political theory. Abraham Lincoln is paired with Mark Twain. The impact of African Americans in the evolution of English is covered in one chapter that stretches from the early days of slavery to the election of President Barak Obama.

Part three is homage to the long nineteenth century of the British Empire. Modern history in the last third of the book seems even more vague. It's also tilted. He never discusses, or appears to visit, Latin America. What of the thriving Hispanic commercial sector in the U.S.?

What he really wants to say is that the mother tongue of the Web is English and that the mother tongue of a vast proportion of international business is English. I don't know enough about either of those subjects to check his assumptions.

His thesis, nevertheless, is poignant. Is it really true that, given that I have the misfortune of only being fluent in English, that I can now wander the world without getting lost?
  3wheeledlibrarian | Apr 6, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
It’s a wide-ranging — if etymologically flawed — work, which will be of interest to readers coming fresh to the history of the way the English language has developed.
 
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For my mother,
Christine McCrum,
who gave me English:
with love and thanks.
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Robert McCrum, coauthor of the best-selling book and television series The Story of English, shows how the language of the Anglo-American imperium has become the world's lingua franca. --from vendor description

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393062554, 0393339777

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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