It seems impossible: a small island in the North Atlantic, colonized by Rome, then pillaged for hundreds of years by marauding neighbors, becomes the dominant world power in the nineteenth century. In this provocative new look at the course of empire, Robert McCrum shows how the language of the Anglo-American imperium has become the world's lingua franca. In the twenty-first century, writes the author, English + Microsoft = Globish.
For the first time since the God of the Old Testament sent the Tower of Babel tumbling down, our planet is close to formulating a universal language, albeit one with a nearly infinite variety of dialects and applications--English. In this breathlessly ambitious linguistic history, Robert McCrum documents how the English language managed to escape its upbringing on an afterthought of an island and infuse itself into the discourse of the entire globe. According to McCrum, the ubiquity of the English language can be credited to the ruthlessly imperialistic spirit of its speakers, the British and the Americans, who used slave ships, battleships and microchips to globally assert themselves and force the rest of the world to negotiate on their terms. McCrum also gives prominent assists to a series of books and individuals whose influence and independent spirit demonstrated the expressive, adaptable nature of English, such as the King James Bible, William Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, and Winston Churchill.
- History, Language + Art + Disciplines
- Social History, World, Linguistics
- May 9, 2011
- May 9, 2011
- Robert McCrum