“The limits of my language are the limits of my world”
– Ludwig Wittgenstein
English belongs into Indo-European group of languages. It is the official language in more than 50 countries all around the world with almost 360 million of native speakers.
The history of English is a long story; it was first spoken in early Medieval England.
Just like Czech language, English is also developing. People are forgetting some unused words, but that does not mean that the language is getting any worse. We have lots of new expression that make the language still alive.
The number of words in English is a very unstable figure. For example The Oxford English Dictionary includes over 600,000 definitions. There was a study made by Harvard and Google in December 2010, which digitised over 5 000 000 books. He result was that in these books were about 1 022 000 words and the growth of this number is about 8500 per year.
Now let?s move on to the origins of English words. A recent survey done by Thomas Finkenstaedt and Dieter Wolff has shown the percentage of language the English accept new expressions from. The biggest part came from France and Latin (about 28% each). Then were Germanic languages with 25%, 2% from Greek and the rest were other languages such as Dutch or Old Norse.
As I mentioned before, the language is like a living organism. We think up new words, we forget the less used. Some linguists say that about three quarters of Old English was lost by the end of Middle English period. I also read that almost all words connected to sexual activity were replaced with new expressions. Plus many of words describing body part, which were used in Middle Ages, are now considered vulgar and offensive.
I?ve seen a few new words and some of them are actually quite interesting. It is for example “bromance” – connection of words romance and brother, so the meaning is something like a close non-sexual relationship between two men. Another was funny…