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Languages was Re: 11th specimen of Archaeopteryx
This has become entirely off-topic, but some things just need to be said.
Now you're on my turf, and I'd say that all of these are contributing
factors - but the main reason that English has come to eclipse French
as the universal language is that, to quote James Nicoll, "the
English language is as pure as a crib-house whore. It not only
borrows words from other languages; it has on occasion chased other
languages down dark alley-ways, clubbed them unconscious and rifled
their pockets for new vocabulary." (or as H. Beam Piper put it,
English is the result of Norman soldiers trying to pick up Saxon
tavern-wenches, and no more legitimate than their other offspring.)
Another contributing factor is that French assigns genders to all
nouns; English doesn't, making it easier to acquire new vocabulary
without requiring approval from the Academe.
You don't believe that yourself.
You yourself don't believe that Francophones are so silly as to wait for
approval from the Académie Française before using a word. The Académie
regulates official writing, not daily usage.
You yourself don't believe that gender assignment is any kind of
nerve-wracking problem. French, in fact, even has a default gender: all
nouns are masculine* unless there's a reason** for them to be feminine.
You do, I'm sure, know that lengthy, ignorant essays were written in the
18th century to explain why French was so obviously superior to
everything else (in clarity, euphony and whatnot) and to claim that this
explained why it was the international language in so many domains and
such a large part of the world. "Ce qui n'est pas clair n'est pas
* Historically, that's probably because the Latin masculine and neuter
merged. In French, you don't say "it's raining", you say "he rains".
** Not necessarily a rational one. We're after all talking about language.
> The universality of English was also helped immeasurably by the
> fact that one of Britain's conquests in the New World went on to
> become a superpower in the XX-XXI centuries.
That's the biggest reason for why English is the international language
of science. More scientists are Americans than anything else -- and in
the 1950s, almost all scientists this side of the Iron Curtain were
> (No, it's not Jamaica.)
Well. The youth (or yoof or yoot) on the streets of London now speaks
Ja-fake-an, you know. Never underestimate the many forms cultural
prestige can take.