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The History of English in Ten Minutes: English and Empire
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The words voodoo and zombie came from
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The History of English in Ten Minutes: English and Empire
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he History of English in Ten Minutes
English and Empire
Narrator:
With English making its name as the language of science, the Bible and Shakespeare, Britain
decided to take it on tour.
Asking only for land, wealth, natural resources, total obedience to the crown and a few local
words in return.
They went to the Caribbean looking for gold and a chance to really unwind – discovering the
‘barbeque’, the ‘canoe’ and a pretty good recipe for rum punch. They also brought back the
word ‘cannibal’ to make their trip sound more exciting.
In India there was something for everyone. ‘Yoga’ – to help you stay in shape, while
pretending to be spiritual. If that didn’t work there was the ‘cummerbund’ to hide a paunch
and - if you couldn’t even make it up the stairs without turning ‘crimson’ – they had the
‘bungalow’.
Meanwhile in Africa they picked up words like ‘voodoo’ and ‘zombie’ – kicking off the teen
horror film – and even more terrifying, they brought home the world’s two most annoying
musical instruments – the ‘bongo’ and the ‘banjo’.
From Australia, English took the words ‘nugget’, ‘boomerang’ and ‘walkabout’ - and in fact the
whole concept of chain pubs.
Between toppling Napoleon (1815) and the first World War (1914), the British Empire gobbled
up around 10 millions square miles, 400 million people and nearly a hundred thousand gin
and tonics, leaving new varieties of English to develop all over the globe.
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