I consider myself fortunate – I speak and write in one of the world’s most popular languages. I rarely have to translate what I read about me or struggle to understand the meaning. I love my language and its versatility. I am English. My cultural identity is English (British, too, but that’s a different layer of nationality). This language may have travelled the world and become the native tongue of many countries, but it was forged here, in these isles.
English is the product of countless invasions. The original language of the British Isles is closer to the Celtic tongues of the Welsh and Scots (the Britons of the past), whereas the language I use is the result of the influence of many others – Latin from the Romans, Saxon from the Germanic invaders, Nordic from the Vikings and Danes, the Romantic flavour of French from the Normans and plus for good measure, the scholarly influence of the Greeks. From what I gather, the pervasiveness of Celtic words in English is very low, which is odd given their proximity and rather indicative of the oppression of these peoples until recent times.
For me then, English is more than a language, it represents my past and origins. As technology and other cultures make their alterations to the global language of English, I cling to the hope what I speak – the dialects and colloquial qualities of my mother tongue – remain steadfastly rooted here, in England. If English isn’t your first language or mother tongue, value your own, make it the source of ideas and thoughts. Yes, it can be translated, and many of my favourite authors write in languages foreign to me, but it is that diversity which brings out the best in the written and spoken word. Celebrate it!
Bill Bryson’s Mother Tongue: The Story of the English Language
Twitter hashtag is #AtoZChallenge and Twitter id is @AprilA2Z
Linky List for finding other partipants in the challenge is here