Global English

globeGetting around

Any traveler who’s been around the world picks up habits from the places they visit, and the English language is no different. English has mixed with other languages for centuries, and there’s a lot of evidence of that influence in the English vocabulary.

English has adopted lots of words from other languages. One example is ‘mosquito’, which comes from Spanish and Portuguese words meaning ‘little fly’. The same is true for ‘vodka’ -meaning ‘little water’ in Polish and Russian. There are countless others. Below is a list of five English words, and the languages they were borrowed from. Post your answer as a comment, telling us where you think each word comes from.

Words: coffee, shampoo, penguin, stove, ski,

Language of origin: Dutch, Welsh, Arabic, Norwegian, Hindi

The non-natives have it…

globeWhere do the majority of English speakers come from?

It’s no secret that a lot of people in the world speak English. One estimate is that 1.5 billion people do, either as their mother tongue or as a second or foreign language.

But where do they come from? Most speakers of English today don’t come from Britain, the USA, Australia, Canada or other countries where English is the first language. Counting everyone who has a basic command of English, there are now more non-native speakers than native speakers.

But can you guess what the percentage is? How many of the people who speak English learned it as a second or foreign language? Leave your answer as a comment below, and we’ll give the answer in our next blog post.

What proportion of English speakers today are non-native speakers?

+++a. Slightly more than half
+++b. About two-thirds
+++c. About three-fourths
+++d. About 90%