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Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Most Useful Language - English

With the former British Empire expanding in the last four centuries, which began with the American colonies, culminated in India and Africa, the English language was spread, even after the Empire died. Today, there are as many English speakers in India as there are in England, and five times that number in North America. Across the world, one and a half billion people speak English. Yet for many years, for centuries, English was a minority tongue, which hung on only with great difficulty. But now it's the world's most useful language.

Can this status be challenged? I wonder. Sometime ago, there was prediction that Mandarin Chinese would rise to go head to head with English. With the whole world is in a panic mood of dealing with current recession, how will languages play their parts?


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sanskrit Language

William Jones was a brilliant linguist. He was the son of a professor of mathematics, and on top of everything else, an accomplished poet. He published poems in Greek at the age of fifteen, while at sixteen he learned Persian from ' a Syrian living in London'. He later said that he had studied twenty-eight languages and had a thorough knowledge of thirteen.

He delivered a speech "On the Hindus" on 2 Feb 1786. He said: "The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of the verbs and in the forms of the grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong, indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists."

The above quoted from Peter Watson.