9 Apr /14

English rules the world – Richard Carew

Richard Carew – the first man who knew English would become a world language

Probably it was Richard Carew who was the first man to realise the potential of English as a world language. He spoke Cornish and English, learnt Greek, Italian, French and German and besides writing about and governing Cornwall, he wrote poetry, translated and thought a lot about the English language. Perhaps because when he was ambassador to Poland and Sweden he was forced to use Latin as a language. He stated that it was inappropriate for international communication, for business and diplomacy because the vocabulary used in Roman times simply was not appropriate for modern day communications. The words he needed were not available.

So he began thinking that English should be the language. In An Epistle concerning the Excellencies of the English Tongue he argues correctly that the language of the future will have to have “significance, easiness, copiousness and sweetness” and that English was exactly that language. He gave examples why the English language “is matchable, if not preferable” to any other language. And, he was the first man to claim that Shakespeare was a genius of the English language. Quite a daring proposal for English – in 1600 it was an insignificant language spoken by only 5 million people. But he saw that it was happening. As the man in charge of Cornwall, in his masterpiece on Cornwall The Survey of Cornwall published in 1602 he reported that the English language had made its way across the whole of English and in his native country was finally ousting Cornish as a language.

Words he gave to English included homeward-bound, capricious, philosophise, cold blooded, enviable, theorist and also tomorrow’s phase – due diligence.

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