Segments in this Video

Prelude: English in an English-Speaking World (01:05)


More influential than any language the world has known, the English language knows no borders.

Prevalence of English Worldwide (02:12)

One thousand million people in the world make some use of British or American English each day. English is the language of over 10,000 magazines throughout the world. In news, English dominates the world's airwaves.

English: Language Without Frontiers (00:57)

American English is the language of the world's movies, and jazz, pop, and rock and roll are around the world are sung in English. English pervades the commodities market, and satellite television.

Varieties of English: Public-School English (03:21)

English is not the first language is some parts of the British Isles like the Hebrides Islands. "Public-school English" is about 100 years old, and often considered the "correct" way to speak English. The superiority of this accent lingers in Great Britain.

Spread of Public-School English Via Radio (02:13)

The invention of the wireless (radio) turned public-school English into BBC English.

British and American English and WWII (01:35)

During WWII, the voice of Britain resounded with authority and defiance. The voice of Edward R. Murrow after the victory in Europe in 1945, symbolizes the growing importance of American English.

British Decolonization and English Language (03:03)

The era of decolonization for the British Empire did not necessarily "de-throne" English as the language of state. English became the neutral language that linked all others, and continued as the primary language of Indian civil administration.

English: Socially Desirable Language in India (02:52)

India is the third highest producer of books in English. India's next generation is also learning English, as it is indispensable to a good career and an essential part of a good education.

English: Lingua Franca of Africa (02:31)

Independence Day in Ghana, 1957, and Independence Day in Nigeria, 1960, represent two strong reasons why Africa needs a linked language like English, or English Creoles. Africa's schools teach Standard English.

English in Africa: Multinational Corporations (02:57)

The president of Sierra Leone welcomes the role of standard English in Africa's future. As multinationals own much of Africa's resources, English is the day-to-day language of operations. American English is overpowering British English in Africa and India.

Worldwide Influence of American Slang (03:36)

Language guru William Safire measures the power of American English by the volumes of American slang words and expressions found throughout the world. California is drumming teenage slang into world English.

"Valley Girl" English: Passing Fancy (02:29)

Valley girls share examples of slang that they frequently use. This slang traveled around the world with Moon Unit Zappa's hit single "Valley Girl." This language event is now seen as a linguistic "flare-up" that has gone out.

Gay Slang in World English (02:01)

Gay slang spread around the world, giving new meaning to old words such as "gay." Gay parlance has found its way into "straight" society as well.

End of Linguistic Sexism (02:15)

The feminist movement has a strong effect on world English. California leads the way in chopping sexism out of the English language. Gloria Steinem shares her thoughts on sexist language.

English Jargon from Computer Technology and the Military (04:04)

Computer technology contributes many words to the English language, such as "high tech," "work mode," "integrate," and "online" that found their way into world English. Military jargon finds its way into American English such as SNAFU and boondocks.

English: Everyone's Second Language (02:24)

English has outgrown its American and British roots, and has become the world's second language. Japan's, or "Japlish," leads Asia in adoption of English in all aspects of life.

English in Singapore (02:12)

A multi-racial society, Singapore unifies its people by putting English first. It is essential in business transactions and construction projects, including plans and contracts. English is the lingua franca of the region.

Correct English in Singapore (02:04)

Singaporean government policy corrects English at all levels. A language consultant for "The Strait Times" teaches the finer points of English to its journalists. Good English is an essential part of progress in government, law, trade, and information.

English in China (01:47)

One hundred million Chinese watched Kate Flower's BBC English language learning program on television in the 1970s. Today, nearly 250 million Chinese are learning English.

English: Language of Technology (01:19)

Even advanced countries have to publish scientific abstracts in English. English is the indispensable language of progress for the Third World. India is a major force in teaching English to multinational students.

Global Village of Communications (04:10)

The language of the global village is English. English is both the language of the skies and of the seas. In England, "sea speak" is a simplified English for international waters. English is the trademark for many of the world's multinational corporations.

American English (03:07)

At its present rate of influence, American English is poised to be the major form of English spoken around the world. The Voyager Planetary Mission sent English into outer space.

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An English-Speaking World

Part of the Series : The Story of English
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $149.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $224.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $149.95



English is a language spoken by two billion people, perhaps even more. This classic PBS program examines the prevalence of English in the world today and presents a historical overview of its rise. Focusing on the expansion of the British Empire and the emergence of English-language mass media, the program explains how widespread English usage survived Britain’s post-WWII decolonization, particularly in India and Africa. It also examines the impact of American—and especially Californian—English, which has arguably become standard. Interviews with William Safire and Gloria Steinem provide insight into Americanization and the linguistic influence of feminism. (58 minutes)

Length: 59 minutes

Item#: BVL36923

ISBN: 978-1-4213-6087-4

Copyright date: ©1986

Closed Captioned

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Only available in USA and Canada.