Current World Status of English

  • English is now found in all countries of the world with over 2.2 billion people having competencies in the language in varying levels of proficiency

  • English is the second most commonly used language in the world (next to Mandarin)

  • Native English speakers-about 370 million-are now outnumbered by those coming to English as a second or alternative language

  • English is the dominant language globally in telephone communication, science and technology, commercial travel and business, book publishing and second language instructional programs

  • English is the language of the Internet even in China where over 84% use the language

  • English is used in over 95% of transactions among members of the European Union and throughout the Commonwealth

The Emergence of a Universal Language of Communication

  • Of 1.2 billion “successful transactions” undertaken globally, over 74% used only a vocabulary of between 800 and 1000 words

  • This language within a language is being described now as a World English to distinguish it from a more culturally-specific “standard” or “complete” English

  • The simplification used in World English is aimed directly at improving communication particularly across cultural lines - essentially increasing the odds whereby persons can be understood and can understand others

  • Successful communication is always a triumph against odds. Use of a “defining” vocabulary of 800 to 1000 words simply reduces the odds and provides an instrument for communication among persons from every country of the world

  • Amazingly this international auxiliary language was first discovered in the early 1920’s and it is only now that a re-discovery seems to be taking place

World English and its uses

  • 1923 saw the publication by C.K. Ogden and I.A. Richards Meaning of Meaning: A Study of the Influence of Language upon Thought and the Science of Symbolism

  • Ogden made the brilliant discovery that with a carefully worked out system consisting of 850 words and the rules for their use it was possible to have an international auxiliary language. Everything in English could be said using these 850 words.

  • The main characteristic of World English is its power in clarifying meanings and improving human communication and understanding

  • Richards moved into the design of self-instructional materials with the publication of English Self Taught Through Pictures in 1939; the approach was aimed at touching off an organic process to human language learning whereby learners took responsibility for their own learning with increasing control of language and thought

  • World English provides a base or common stem on which all other forms of English can be mounted (English for college and universities; English as a foreign language; English for the work place; all those diverse settings where competence in English is required)

  • As Users of World English grow in individual competence they can enter any other form of English at the same time.

For more information see
Richards, I.A. "So Much Nearer, Essays Toward a World English", Harcourt, Brace and World Inc. New york, 1966