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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 français"...

* 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 Americans.

> (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.