Reading series 3: Empires of the Word, A Language History of the World

Reading series 3: Empires of the Word, A Language History of the World

But the situation compares ironically with the contest of English and Spanish in North America in the same period, where if anything Spanish – in its version seeded to Mexico, Central America, Cuba, and Puerto Rico – is growing at the expense of English, in many big cities and much of the south-west of the USA. All these developments, however, tend to underline the true determinants of language spread: population growth and population movements. When an official language was an artificial thing, created by international elites, and spread as far as possible among local populations, it is understandable that the bigger budget should have created the bigger language. But when the population starts to grow, as the urban population of Metro Manila has, its language (Tagalog) has come to dominate the country just as its speakers have, English or no English (378).

Reading series 3: Empires of the Word, A Language History of the World

But the situation compares ironically with the contest of English and Spanish in North America in the same period, where if anything Spanish – in its version seeded to Mexico, Central America, Cuba, and Puerto Rico – is growing at the expense of English, in many big cities and much of the south-west of the USA. All these developments, however, tend to underline the true determinants of language spread: population growth and population movements. When an official language was an artificial thing, created by international elites, and spread as far as possible among local populations, it is understandable that the bigger budget should have created the bigger language. But when the population starts to grow, as the urban population of Metro Manila has, its language (Tagalog) has come to dominate the country just as its speakers have, English or no English (378).

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