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Maciamo has indeed posted a very thoughtful text, but I think, like me, he oversees the roots of english spreading in the EU. We are both children of the cold war, and up to roughly 1990, the US had military bases all over Europe. The US being our big brother protecting us from the communist bullies, and our big brother being so bad at learning the languages of the countries hosting its troops, we got exposed to english in a way we were not until then. Michael had a very insightful comment, music and movies have penetrated the social tissue since the 1980es, to the point that in France, radios have to broadcast french songs a certain percentage of their airtime, not to mention the seriously insane rule of using french words, regardless of how stupid they sound, to avoid anglicismes taking roots and denaturing la belle langue française...
Actually the VAST majority of white people in America come from the people of the British Isles, especially English. Self-declared ethnicities have very little to do with the real picture. Some Americans can be made up from 10+ ethnicites.
Not to forget that English people have been present in the USA the longest, AND English people made up the single greatest nationality emigrating to the USA up until the late 1800s when more of them began going to Australia instead.
It is ridiculous to say most Americans come from Germans, or Irish. No. English is the greatest ethnicity in America.
Even so, the vast majority of English people came from Germany and France so it is an endless trail of ethnicity.
The actual resolution of this = whether English, Irish, German, French, Spanish or Italians they are all WHITE.
Wikipedia article cites Mary C. Waters as saying that "it may be speculated that mixed ethnicity or ancestry nominate a more recent and differentiated ethnic group." See also here... almost all of the places where the "American" ethnicity is dominant are historically dominated by British-origin people. Only Mormons and New Englanders seem to commonly accept the "English-American" label.
If we add "English" and "American" ethnicities from the 2000 census together, they beat "German" (15.9% vs. 15.2%). There are probably significant Scottish-Americans, Scots-Irish-Americans and Welsh-Americans in there as well... but if we balance that out with the effect of people picking the more "unusual" ethnicity (in which "German" almost always beats "English") then it seems that English has a shot at edging out German. It's close, though.
You know something that would be really interesting for me now?
Autosomal and Y-haplogroup distribution maps within North America or the New World in general!
[I know you just started creating your own maps recently, so if you don't have much to do right now... ]
english is natural choice for single official language of EU, but it will never be the case... France and Germany will never agree to it....
It is only natural that as Europe (the E.U.) work closer together, they need to find one way of communicating. I both agree and disagree with your 'it has little or nothing to do with America' comment. On one hand I think it has a lot to do with the UK, being situated in Europe and having (nowadays) a much larger cultural influence than any other European country (in the sense of Music, literature, TV and Film). On the other hand, American music and movies have been ridiculously popular all over Europe ever since the 40s/50s. I agree with the comment that although American may be the most hated country, as much as people do hate them (presumably for their politics, ignorance and superiority complex) they still consume their Music, TV shows and Films.
I think it is good for Europe to adopt English as their lingua-franca. At the end of the day, most people can't be bothered to learn languages, so many people already know English so they decided to just go with it. I don't see (no matter how much they want it to) French or German somehow overtaking English's position
Spieglein, Spieglein, an der Wand / Wer ist die Schönste im ganzen Land? you are France you are!
I have no negative feelings towards the USA - this fashion wave caused partially by Mr. Bush Younger, is not so nice from us toward our US cousins (I always say the American Caucasians are our Children). We can clearly remember the Marshall Plan and how vast financial resources and know-how the US has been given to Europe after the WWII. Secondly, the US with their military presence allowed to some European nations develop itself without spending too much for military during Cold War Era. We should never forget those facts. But my latest comment have nothing with lingua franca.
I think there is no need of having more competing lingua franca - the language of communication in Europe except the English. I fully agree with recent statements of German President, who encouraged to use English only widely.
And sorry for the mistakes in my written English :) hope you understand me :)
5 countries use English as their first language - UK, USA, Canada, Australia and NZ. The Commonwealth nations use English as second language - India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Uganda, Kenya, etc. English is alos spoken in South America, Iran, Egypt, etc. All Scandinavians speak English well.
PS so many languages spoken in India that there is either 'kinda no first language' or English is the nearest to a first language.
English is the only language the various Indians will accept as there is a lot of animosity towards the others.