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Title: The English is Coming!: How One Language is Sweeping the World
Author: Leslie Dunton-Downer
Number of Pages: 352 pages
Book Number/Goal: 39/40 for 2010
My Rating: 2.5/5

Amazon Summary: English has fast become the number one language for everything from business and science, diplomacy and education, entertainment and environmentalism to socializing and beyond--virtually any human activity unfolding on a global scale. Worldwide, nonnative speakers of English now outnumber natives three to one; and in China alone, more people use English than in the United States--a remarkable feat for a language that got its start as a mongrel tongue on an island fifteen hundred years ago. Through the fascinating stories of thirty English words used and understood in nearly all corners of the globe, The English Is Coming! takes readers on an eye-opening journey across culture and commerce, war and peace, and time and space.

Review: This book was pretty disappointing. While some of the etymology/linguistics/history stuff was interesting, every time she started talking about global English (which was often, since it is what the book is about!), I started getting annoyed.

While she does say that English's dominance as a global language is not due to anything inherent in the language itself and that it could have been any language had history been different, she then goes on to talk a lot about the things that make English so easy for people to pick up and make it easy to spread rapidly and the tone is all just yay English! and yay America! and there's no critical thought or acknolwedgement of the (cultural) imperialism that made/makes English a global language. From reading this you'd think people around the world just started using English because they thought it was cool.

Also when she talks about these English words that are now used in so many other languages, she often doesn't distinguish between those that are used occasionally and those that are the primary terms people use. For example, when she talks about bank, she says it's used in Japanese, and while it may be recognised and some banks may use it in their name, the word people actually use is still 銀行(ginkou). So stuff like that made me not be able to trust what she was saying about other languages as well, since she could have made similar mistakes.


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