The English language at Elizabethan times was merely a local “dialect” that’s part of the Germanic language family.
For the nobility and the intellectuals in England at that time, French was used instead to set themselves apart from the “common folks”.
It’s with the advent of Shakespeare that the English developed the self-confidence that it’s OK to speak with pride in their mother tongue.
Of course, another main driving force of this new found confidence and self-believe is it coincides with the reign of Queen Elizabeth the first – when Britain defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588. Spain was the strongest and wealthiest European power at the time.
This set forth the foundation for Britain to rule the waves and the expansion of the British Empire, challenging the other European powers for world domination (Land grab? It’s definitely not spreading democracy and world peace!) And who can forget the spectacular naval victory at the Battle of Trafalgar during the Napoleonic wars?
New markets emerged for British traders and manufacturers. (Although I wouldn’t call it free trade)
The sun never sets in the British Empire. This empire was so vast that even after the sun did finally set for the British Empire, English is now the most widely used language today – just add all the countries in the British Commonwealth plus USA and you can see how many countries have English as their first or second language. OK, Americans may have a different opinion as they speak “American” – not English. It’s a bonus! So we include additional countries that speak “American” – Taiwan, Philippines, Korea, Japan, and the Caribbean countries.
It’s a combination of three factors: cultural renaissance, economic power and military might that elevates a language to global prominence.
And for those non-British people in the colonies that can speak English, they have more opportunities opened to them and they enjoyed a different social status amongst their “local” peers.
Fast forward a few hundred years to today, and we see a new power emerging from her sleep…
I am amazed at the number of Koreans, Japanese, Europeans, and Americans that are now learning and speaking “that” new language during my travels and work assignments.
Perhaps a financial legacy that we can leave behind to our children has nothing to do with dollars and cents. It’s a gift of language?
Note: I am not advocating giving up English. Oh no! Britain went into decline long ago, but English is still widely used. English will not go away anytime soon. Yes, even if USA one day is no longer the sole superpower of the world.
If you call yourself an investor or trader, surely you would understand diversification or making a hedge. So encouraging our children to be bilingual – in English and “that” 2nd language could be a wise move.
Heads we win; tail we win too!
Singapore Man of Leisure (welcome to my blog; just google it!)
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