If you are reading this comfortably, you could be one of the 375 million people worldwide who speak English as their first or main language. Just think of the countries that includes –
much of Canada
There are many other smaller countries and I apologise to those I have unintentionally excluded. Add in those people who speak some English and you are well over the 1,000 million mark. That’s close to one in every five people on the planet who can speak some English.
Good English uses short, simple words not long or obscure ones; simple sentences, not convoluted paragraphs. Good English means plain English: a way to communicate an opinion clearly so the reader understands exactly what we are trying to say. It’s not just for the people who speak English as their first language; it’s for everyone who aspires to read, write and speak our mother tongue.
The English language is rich in vocabulary, yet new words are invented every day. Consider this:
French has 35,000 words;
Latin has 45,000;
German boasts more than 140,000;
So how many words do you think there are in the English language? Go on – have a guess!
You’re miles out. It’s more than 700,000 words.
That’s why there’s so much beautiful literature. Once you have even a basic command of the language, you find your vocabulary expanding daily. It’s rich in synonym and metaphor.
The English and Americans are constantly chiding each other for their spelling and pronunciation. Think of labor, color, apologize and analyze, then labour, colour, apologise and analyse … two countries separated by a common language.
But the important thing is communication, getting our ideas simply and accurately into other people’s minds.
Language is the medium and communication the goal.