Every year the United Nations takes the time to celebrate each of its six working languages, and on 23rd April it will once again be the chance for the English language to receive recognition.
According to the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, language days have been created with the goal of increasing awareness and respect for the UN’s working languages, highlighting their history, culture and achievements within the UN community.
But why 23rd April? Adopted by the UN in 2010, this particular date was chosen for its cultural significance to the English, marking both St George’s Day and the recognised anniversary of the birth and death of William Shakespeare, a celebrated master of the English language – it’s rumoured that Shakespeare invented more than 1,700 words now commonly used by English speakers.
A History of the English Language
Around 1,500 years ago, an early form of English was a language spoken by just three Germanic tribes, who spread their knowledge across the continent.
From there the language began its definitive development, adopting grammar and nuances from Latin, Norse and Anglo-Norman French invaders who prompted the start of the language’s transformation into what we know today. Latin in particular continued to be a dominant factor in its development, which may in part explain its high uptake around Europe.
Considered by many to be the ‘language of the world’, English has since drawn on grammar and words from a huge number of global languages, and now serves as the second language for almost every nation, both in and out of Europe.
This dominant tongue has also become the unofficial language of business and trade, and remains the most widely used language on social media as it continues to grow and develop with the modern world.
Celebrating English Language Day
To mark English language day, English speakers around the world will celebrate its success by taking an in depth look at the evolution and history of this popular tongue.
As translators, we spend every day exploring the nuances of the languages we specialise in. On 23rd April, we invite you to take a closer look at the English language yourself, explore its development, learn more about its different dialects, or take a closer look at some of its lesser known words.