“The English language is nobody's special property. It is the property of the imagination: it is the property of the language itself. “-Derek Walcott
The United Nations observe English Language Day on April 23rd every year, to commemorate both the birthday and the death day of William Shakespeare as well as to promote the importance of the English Language around the world. It was first initiated on the year 2010 by the Department of Public Information, instituting language days for each of the Organization's six official languages, that is Arabic, Chinese, French, English, Russian and Spanish
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright who is most popularly known as the “World’s Greatest Dramatist of All Time” and the greatest writer in the English language. He is also referred to as England’s National Poet. His prolific works includes around 39 plays, 154 sonnets, 2 long narrative poems etc. Shakespeare’s birth date (April 23rd, 1564) and death date (April 23rd, 1616) have speculated many historians as it shares the same date, April 23rd. Most of his popular works were produced during 1589-1613. He has written notable plays in variable genres like:
- Tragicomedies (romance) among them is The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice.
- Tragedies which include Hamlet, Othello
- Comedy like As You Like It, The Winters Tale
- Histories such as Henry V, Richard II
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be; for loan oft loses both itself and friend.”
Isn’t the above lines beautifully written? It is written by none other than the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare in his popular play, Hamlet.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the road less travelled by”
What about this one? The above lines were written by Robert Frost in the poem, ‘The Road Not Taken’ which is an enormously popular but yet misunderstood poem.
English is such a striking language, isn’t it? With famous plays like ‘Romeo and Juliet’, to poems like ‘Lord Ullin's Daughter’, to stories and many more. English language is beautifully scripted and includes words from various languages which make it more appealing. Like for example, we all love cookies as it’s a delicious snack. The word COOKIE itself is derived from the Dutch. And the moving animation pictures we watch, that is CARTOON is derived from Italian.
English is often referred to as a "world language", or the lingua franca of the modern era. Why is this so? It is because English is the most widely spoken language in the world and is the official language of many countries around the globe. There are millions of English speakers across the globe. But what makes English an important language, not just a widespread one? English is an important language for all kinds of professional and personal goals. Whether you’re just starting in English, or you need some motivation to keep going, understanding the importance of the language will help you reach fluency and change your life in various aspects.
If you include people who speak it as a second language, an estimated 1 billion people worldwide speak English! On top of this, 67 countries have English as their official language and 27 countries have English as their second official language. Why is this? Throughout the centuries, the British Empire expanded and ruled over many different countries, including India, the United States etc. In many cases, the British forced the people they ruled over to speak English and some of these countries still speak English, even if it is not their main language.
Other than the English Language day, UN around the world also celebrates 5 more separate days, each dedicated to one of the Organization's 5 official languages besides English.
The days are as follows:
Arabic (18 December)
Chinese (20 April)
French (20 March)
Russian (6 June)
Spanish (23 April)
The purpose of the UN's language days is to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six official languages throughout the Organization.