As Great Britain Fades Into the History Books, Should “English” Be Replaced With “American” to Describe Our Global Language?
Great Britain has endowed her descendents with many wondrous things. From the Magna Carta to the Age of Enlightenment, from the Puritan Work Ethic to Shakespeare, so much of modern culture can trace its origins to the wisdom of the English. Their history is rich and fascinating. They have built glorious cities and once reigned over an empire that brought morality and decency to the harshest corners of the third world.
Yet Britain was simply the birthplace for many of the ideas that helped shape human civilization. When the pilgrims left their homeland to establish something beautiful and empowering in the Americas, they brought with them an inspiration that far outshone anything that could be conceived of on the British Isles. The bountiful and free lands of the new contintent gave birth to a newfound glory beyond the imagination of old Europe. Thus, America’s incredible gift to the rest of this planet was and continues to be an unbridled passion about our future, about a pure form of humane government and about chasing this dream with every ounce of sweat in our arsenal.
There’s no denying that the United States was once indebted to Britain but after nearly three centuries of benevolence, have our dues not been paid? We stood by England as her empire imploded in the early 1800s. We kept her royal coffers full with trade and industrial innovation in the 19th century. In the 20th, we rescued her from the German menace twice and carried that bloated and corrupt body politic on our backs through the Cold War. Today, much of Britain’s legitimacy on the geopolitical scene is due to her close relationship with America, despite the decline in the moral efficacy of her government. Would England be so respected were it not for our protection? Would such a limited military force be able to hold onto its far off colonies without the implied defense of our noble marines? Yet in the humility that so defines our sacred ethos, we have never truly asked our overseas brethren for anything in return for this gracious love and support.
With the internet buzzing across international borders at an ever-increasing rate today, standardizing communication has never been more essential. Not only do we depend on a shared language so that our computers can speak to each other, human beings also need a common way to express themselves. As Americans, this is a pivotal opportunity for us share the good news about change, power and devotion to those who suffer and toil no matter what their nationality.
This brings us to the urgent issue at hand. For too long, the world’s most important language has been labeled “English” when in truth it’s the American version of this tongue that people in every country from Canada to China rely on. The United States has innovated and matured its lexicon far beyond the attempts of the British. We have invented too many words to count, including “telephone” and “internet,” “meritocracy” and “kindness.” In truth, our native language is simpler, more direct. It is free of any of the obscure and offensive slang so common in Europe. It lends itself to widespread comprehension due to basic grammatical rules and its lack of a heavy accent.
On the other hand, spoken European English is guttural and abrupt, akin to German or French. The language you hear overseas has more in common with the archaic sonnets of Shakespeare than the cutting edge, internet-ready clarity of American words. As our tongue has become more and more Americanized, American English has truly developed into a conduit of insight and global understanding.
With all due respect to Great Britain, isn’t it about time we stop referring to our shared articulation as “English”? Such a bold change would have implications beyond the grammatical. The word “American” symbolizes far more than just a language. It is an ideal that embodies truth and vision, hope and faith. Letting those outside of our borders understand that they’re speaking American reminds them of the incredible social, political and economic innovations we have never been afraid to share. The world must appreciate that the United States is a foundation of culture and intellect, that so many of the latest, most momentous ideas have sprung forth from our nation. Simply uttering “American” inspires a ray of promise for those who struggle under communism, poverty and oppression everywhere on God’s good earth.
As we look towards the future, an acknowledgement of American as the basis of human communication is a significant step. Ultimately, ours is a language of peace and vision in a world where violence and hatred threaten at every turn. We face dangerous and tumultuous times ahead, where radical lifestyles and divergent beliefs undermine the very basis of civilization. The rise of Muslim extremism, homosexual behavior, atheism, communism and many others are in direct conflict with the very truths of our national existence. Yet armies are not enough to defeat our enemies. We battle for the hearts and minds of those who so yearn for greatness as we do.
Along the way, it’s our mission to also seed the word of God into this cross-border conversation. For the struggling peoples across the globe to come to His grace, they need to develop that special relationship with our Savior. Speaking American is the necessary component to our nation’s fulfillment of a greater destiny.
My friends I must ask you, for the sake of our planet’s future, will you speak American?