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Why is English an important language? What can be learned from studying the history of the English language?

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English is an important language for many reasons. It is very widely spoken, both as a first and second language. It is, in its most basic form, comparatively easy to learn, due to its grammatical simplicity, making it a suitable lingua franca (where atrtificial attempts, such as Esperanto, have failed). It has a remarkable corpus of literature, much of which (particularly lyric poetry) does not respond well to attempts at translation.

The entire history of Old, Middle, and Modern English is barely 1,500 years, affording the chance for the linguistic historian to study a great deal of development over a relatively short time. The recent history of English has produced a new discipline, that of "World Englishes," in which cultures where English has been introduced and where it is in widespread use—such as India, the United States of America, South Africa, and Australia—are studied through the unique developments English has undergone in those countries.

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