English and Spanish Language Day in honor to Shakespeare and Cervantes

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Both Spanish and English are languages used at the United Nations Organizations, and in honor to William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra, who had an important impact in their respective mother tongues.

The English Language Day was chosen because it is thought to be Shakespeare’s birthday, and the anniversary of his death. As well as being the English language’s most famous playwright, Shakespeare also had a huge impact on modern-day English. At the time he was writing, in the 16th and 17th centuries, the English language was going through a lot of changes and Shakespeare’s creativity with language meant he contributed hundreds of new words and phrases that are still used today. For example, the words ‘gossip’, ‘fashionable’ and ‘lonely’ were all first used by Shakespeare. He also invented phrases like ‘break the ice’, ‘all our yesterdays’, ‘faint-hearted’ and ‘love is blind’. Can you guess what they mean?

The story of the English language began in the fifth century when Germanic tribes invaded Celtic-speaking Britain and brought their languages with them. Later, Scandinavian Vikings invaded and settled with their languages too. In 1066 William I, from modern-day France, became king, and Norman-French became the language of the courts and official activity. People couldn’t understand each other at first, because the lower classes continued to use English while the upper classes spoke French, but gradually French began to influence English. An estimated 45 per cent of all English words have a French origin. By Shakespeare’s time, Modern English had developed, printing had been invented and people had to start to agree on ‘correct’ spelling and vocabulary.

However, the spread of English all over the world has an ugly history but a rich and vibrant present. During the European colonial period, several European countries, including England, competed to expand their empires. They stole land, labour and resources from people across Africa, Asia, the Americas and Oceania.

By the time former British colonies began to gain independence in the mid-20th century, English had become established in their institutions. Many brilliant writers from diverse places across Africa, the Caribbean and Asia had started writing in English, telling their stories of oppression. People from all over the world were using English to talk and write about justice, equality, freedom and identity from their own perspectives. The different varieties of English created through this history of migration and colonization are known as World Englishes.

Another important in the world history came after World War II, when the United States became thw world gendarme. While Europe was rebuilding in the years after 1945, the USA boomed. American businesses picked up where the British East India Company had left off centuries before, taking English around the world as a language of trade. The influence of American business, combined with the tradition of English left around the world by the British Empire, have made English the number one language of international trade in the 21st Century. All of the world’s top business schools now teach in English.

Spanish is a major international language and is one of the official languages of the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), World Trade Organisation (WTO), Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and about 70 other international organisations.

Spanish is one of the few truly international world languages, ie a language spoken in and recognized by a large number of countries, adopted by a significant number of international organizations, and taught/learnt in virtually every country in the world.

Spanish as official language

Spanish is one of the official languages of the Flag of the United Nations United Nations, the Flag of Europe European Union, the OSCE, the African Union flag African Union, the Organization of American States, the World Trade Organization, and about 70 other international organizations. Access to work in these organizations, where 2-3 languages are usually required, is much improved by a working knowledge of Spanish.

The majority of its speakers are located in the Western Hemisphere, Europe and the north east of the African Continent. With approximately 103 million first-language and second-language speakers.

The undeniable truth today is that no matter how English and Spanish became international languages, what it really matter now is the need to use the Germanic language and Romance language to communicate in any field of life around the world. This entails the necessity to teach and learn both of them.

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