An English-speaking world

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  • English is a language spoken by two billion people, perhaps even more. This classic PBS program examines the prevalence of English in the world today and presents a historical overview of its rise. Focusing on the expansion of the British Empire and the emergence of English-language mass media, the program explains how widespread English usage survived Britain's post-WWII decolonization, particularly in India and Africa. It also examines the impact of American-and especially Californian-English, which has arguably become standard. Interviews with William Safire and Gloria Steinem provide insight into Americanization and the linguistic influence of feminism.


  • Encoded with permission for digital streaming by Films Media Group on May 17, 2007.
  • Films on Demand is distributed by Films Media Group for Films for the Humanities & Sciences, Cambridge Educational, Meridian Education, and Shopware.
  • Mode of access: Internet.
  • System requirements: FOD playback platform.
  • Closed-captioned.


  • Prelude: English in an English-Speaking World (1:05) -- Prevalence of English Worldwide (2:12) -- English: Language Without Frontiers (0:57) -- Varieties of English: Public-School English (3:21) -- Spread of Public-School English Via Radio (2:13) -- British and American English and WWII (1:35) -- British Decolonization and English Language (3:03) -- English: Socially Desirable Language in India (2:52) -- English: Lingua Franca of Africa (2:31) -- English in Africa: Multinational Corporations (2:57) -- Worldwide Influence of American Slang (3:36) -- "Valley Girl" English: Passing Fancy (2:29) -- Gay Slang in World English (2:01) -- End of Linguistic Sexism (2:15) -- English Jargon from Computer Technology and the Military (4:04) -- English: Everyone's Second Language (2:24) -- English in Singapore (2:12) -- Correct English in Singapore (2:04) -- English in China (1:47) -- English: Language of Technology (1:19) -- Global Village of Communications (4:10) -- American English (3:07)
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