Here’s NPR with a fascinating segment as they talk to author Robert McCrum about his latest book Globish: How the English Language Became the World’s Language:
How did a mongrel tongue born on a small island in the north Atlantic become the globally dominant language now known as English? That’s a question Robert McCrum tries to answer in his new book, Globish, which explores the way English took the world by storm over the course of several centuries. It’s a story that begins back in the first millennium, when the language spoken in England wasn’t even called “English.” The Britons, who first inhabited the isle of Britain, spoke Celtic languages. Their culture was forever altered when Anglo-Saxon raiders began invading England around 500 A.D., bringing with them their own Germanic speech. “Although they came as raiders and were warriors when they landed, they soon became farmers and artisans and a kind of pastoral people,” McCrum tells NPR’s Renee Montagne. Pastoral Anglo-Saxon words — “sheep,” “earth,” “plow,” “dog,” “wood,” “field” — provide the “building blocks of the language we use today,” says McCrum.