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Facts and Figures about English


  • There are 300 million people who use English as a second language
  • A further 100 million people speak it fluently as a foreign language
  • English is used as an official or semi-official language in over 60 countries
  • Over two thirds of the world's scientists write in English
  • Over 80% of all the information stored electronically around the world is in English
  • English radio programmes are received by over 150 million people in 120 countries
  • 50 million children study English as a foreign language at primary schools around the world
  • At secondary level they are joined by another 80 million children
  • Around the globe English is the main language of books, newspapers, airports and air-traffic control, advertising, business, medicine, technology, diplomacy, sports, pop music, and academic conferences
  • In the USA alone some 500,000 foreign students register each year for study purposes
  • More than two thirds of the world's mail is written in English
  • English is top of the table for total numbers of speakers followed some way behind by Chinese
  • English has its origin in the Indo-European family of languages and is closely related German, Swedish, Icelandic, Dutch and Frisian. 

Many English words have totally changed meaning over the centuries-

Here are a few examples with their earlier meaning:

  • ·         treacle- wild animal

  • ·         villain- farm labourer

  • ·         cheater- rent collector

  • ·         sly -wise

  • ·         taxation -fault finding

  • ·         naughty - worth nothing  

Many English words have been taken from other languages.

Here are a few examples:

  • ·         ballot-Italian

  • ·         garage-French

  • ·         kiosk-Turkish

  • ·         tycoon -Japanese

  • ·         slim -Dutch

  • ·         veranda -Hindi

  • ·         sofa -Arabic

  • ·         marmalade –Portugese

  • ·         window-Icelandic  

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