Readers respond to a piece that claimed the English language was taking over the world, and to a letter about American English that it prompted
As a former lecturer in colleges in colonial central Africa, I must plead “guilty” to teaching many students how to teach English in their primary and secondary schools (How the English language is taking over the planet, 27 July). During my 17-year tenure, I must have spread the language to maybe thousands of Africans and no doubt they spent their careers passing English on to umpteen thousands of their pupils, ad infinitum (if I may be permitted to use a Latin term).
I gladly took on the role of cultural ambassador to enable these young women and men to take their place in the greater world. They were eager learners and laughed when I told them they were perfectly entitled to use English to attack the British colonial regime. They were also well aware that having a foreign lingua franca (ditto) meant that they could avoid choosing one of the 70 local languages for this task, thus igniting the anger of speakers of the other 69 tribal tongues. I very much doubt whether this led to their decay; bilingualism was almost universal.