It is estimated that there are 300 million native English speakers and 300 million who use English as a second language and a further 100 million who us it as a foreign language in the world today. Making English the second most spoken language in the world, with Chinese being the first. English is the main language of world publishing, science and technology, conferencing, and computer storage as well as the language of international air traffic control. English is also the central language used for purposes of international communications, and international politics, business communications, and academic communities. (Cuddon p.280).
The English language is listed as the official or co-official language of 45 countries, compared to 27 for French, 20 for Spanish and 17 for Arabic. English is well on its way of becoming the unofficial language of the world. Half of all business deals are conducted in English. Two thirds of all scientific papers are written in English. Over 70% of all post/mail is written and addressed in English and most international tourism and aviation in conducted in English. (Cuddon p.281).
English is a member of the Indo-European family of languages. This broad family includes most of the European languages spoken today. The Indo-European family includes several major branches; Latin and the modern Romance languages, the Germanic languages, the Indo-Iranian languages (including Hindi and Sanskrit) the Slavic languages, the Baltic languages of Latvian and Lithuanian (but not Estonian, the Celtic languages, and Greek). (Literature: The British Edition p.8).
Of these above-mentioned branches of the Indo-European family, two are of vital importance in the development of the English language, the Germanic and the Romance. English is in the Germanic group of languages. This group began as a common language in the Elbe river region about 3,000 years ago.