Globish: How the English Language Became the World's Language

Globish: How the English Language Became the World's Language

by Robert McCrum


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How English conquered the world: a Guns, Germs, and Steel argument based on the power of the word.

It seems impossible: a small island in the North Atlantic, colonized by Rome, then pillaged for hundreds of years by marauding neighbors, becomes the dominant world power in the nineteenth century. Equally unlikely, a colony of that island nation, across the Atlantic, grows into the military and cultural colossus of the twentieth century. How? By the sword, of course; by trade and industrial ingenuity; but principally, and most surprisingly, by the power of their common language.

In this provocative and compelling new look at the course of empire, Robert McCrum, coauthor of the best-selling book and television series The Story of English, shows how the language of the Anglo-American imperium has become the world’s lingua franca. In fascinating detail he describes the ever-accelerating changes wrought on the language by the far-flung cultures claiming citizenship in the new hegemony. In the twenty-first century, writes the author, English + Microsoft = Globish.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393062557
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 05/24/2010
Pages: 331
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile: 1290L (what's this?)

About the Author

Robert McCrum is the associate editor of The Observer and lives in London with his wife, Sarah Lyall. His books include the bestselling The Story of English, My Year Off, Wodehouse: A Life, and Globish.


London, England

Date of Birth:

July 7, 1953

Place of Birth:

Cambridge, England


Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, England, 1972-75; University of Pennsylvania, 1975-76

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"An overall effective work.... This book successfully appeals to language lovers and history buffs alike." —-Library Journal

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Globish: How the English Language Became the World's Language 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
thewalkinggirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I gave up: this was a DNF for me. I think if I were an Anglophile, I would have enjoyed this more. I picked it up expecting to learn about the origins and global impact of the English language. It mostly seemed to be about English and U.S. history (from a Team England point of view) with a little bit about language changes as seen in the writings of Chaucer, Twain, etc. Some of the historical pieces were interesting, but some of them even I - definitely not a history buff - could recognize as being not entirely correct or only from one particular point of view, with no acknowledgment that there's actually debate about some of those issues (hello, the entire Vikings segment). The writing style was also a little off-putting, varying between very lyrical and very clunky. The clunkiness usually seemed to result from an attempt to put in too many details (that didn't really relate to the thesis anyway, which was frustrating in and of itself). Also, for a book with a somewhat snarky take on language variation (outside of England), there were a surprising number of proofing errors.
IsaacPearson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is titled "Globish: how the English Language Became the World's Language," and the author seems to focus on the "how" part of the title and not as much on English itself. I personally happen to like reading about history, so I enjoyed this book as a tour of Anglo-American history with a linguistic tint. There are those who don't really like history, and if you're one of them, you may not fully appreciate this book. Parts of the book deal directly with development of English as a language, but they are not the majority. If you're looking to read about English as a global language, I recommend the last section of the book. Having exhausted all of the available history, the book shifts into overdrive and the author starts talking about English on the current global stage (the "Globish" part of the title).I liked the book over all, and if you like history and the history of language, I think you will too.
robeik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A journey through the history of the English language, how world history played its part in the development of English, and even how English played its part in history.A bit long winded and divergent at times, but still worth reading. Other reviewers (here and elsewhere) have noted errors: I have one to add as well. The creators of the Bayeux Tapestry were not weavers, but embroiderers - the 'Tapestry' is not a tapestry, but embroidery.
NMS-62 More than 1 year ago
McCrum presents a fascinating, well-written history of how the English language developed and leads the reader to an understanding of how our language is widely spoken throughout the world today - with modifications. I haven't finished the book yet, but intend to soon. It is a work that requires concentration as McCrum knits together thousands of language-related facts into a cohesive story of the evolution of the English that people speak now. Anyone interested in language for its own sake should enjoy Globish.