A small island in the North Atlantic, colonized by Rome, then pillaged for hundreds of years by marauding neighbours, becomes the dominant world power in the nineteenth century. As its power spreads, its language inevitably follows. Then, across the Atlantic, a colony of that tiny island grows into the military and cultural colossus of the twentieth century. These centuries of empire-building and war, international trade and industrial ingenuity will bring to the world great works of literature and extraordinary movies, cricket pitches and episodes of Dallas, the printing press and the internet.
But then what? As Robert McCrum demonstrates in his hugely enjoyable and provocative new book, what happens next is quite unprecedented. While the global dominance of Anglo-American power appears to be on the wane, the English language has acquired an astonishing new life of its own. With a supra-national momentum, it is now able to zoom across time and space at previously unimaginable speeds. In McCrum's analysis, the cultural revolution of our times is the emergence of English, a global phenomenon as never before, to become the world's language. In the twenty-first century, writes the author, 'English + Microsoft = Globish'. Globish
takes us on the riveting and enlightening journey of the spread of a global English, from the icy swamps of pre-Roman Saxony to the shopping malls of Seoul, from the study of 'crazy English' in China to crowds of juvenile wizards mobbing bookshop tills across the world. Along the way it gives new meaning to a faded old brown parchment (the Magna Carta), a 272-word presidential speech (the Gettysburg address) and a scratchy black-and-white film of a couple of men in space suits.
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