Jacob Mikanowski (How the English language is taking over the planet, 27 July) writes with unconscious irony: “Behemoth, bully, loudmouth, thief: English is everywhere, and everywhere, English dominates. From inauspicious beginnings on the edge of a minor European archipelago…”
I can’t wait to read more of what he says about English syntax affecting German and changing the grammar of Scandinavian languages, but he seems to ignore the English language’s penchant for borrowing from other languages. Behemoth (actually plural) is from Hebrew and archipelago is Greek.
The point is made graphically by a famous description attributed to James Nicoll: “We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary”.
Native English speakers are fortunate that theirs has become the universal language, and it is even more fortunate that there is one. Polish and all the other colourful and beautiful languages that seem to be in its shade are still available for private conversation among native speakers.