In his review in the Spectator entitled A continuation of empire by other means, Andrew Roberts gives raves to Melvyn Bragg’s new book The Adventure of English, 500 AD TO 2000: The Biography of a Language (currently available in the UK.) I’ll probably read the book. One detail in the review struck me as interesting:
English is today both the language of wealth and, more importantly, of aspiration to wealth. A fascinating statistic employed by Bragg compares the net worth of the speakers of various world languages, showing that although there are many more Mandarin-speakers than English-speakers, they are only worth £448bn. Against that Russian-speakers are ‘worth’ £801bn, German-speakers £1,090bn, Japanese-speakers £1,277bn, but English-speakers are worth a staggering £4,271bn – more than the rest put together.
Whoa. That’s a lot of money in the pocket of Mr. and Mrs. English Speaker. Good.
And with the language, typically, come other good things — elections, open and honest government, due process, free speech, sound money, law-abiding and effective armies, economic vibrancy, technological verve. The future looks bright indeed. Forward the Anglosphere.
1 thought on “More Than the Rest Put Together”
Also from the review, the 100 most common English words used today were present in Old English 1,000 years ago; & Churchill’s speeches rely on this lexicon. Along these lines, an interesting book from about 25 years ago, probably well known here, is Alan Macfarlane’s “Origins of English Individualism,” in which he finds the cultural, social, economic and legal underpinnings for the Anglosphere already present in England by the Thirteenth Century at the latest. If the rest are to play catch-up, there is a great span to traverse.
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