English is now the language of science, diplomacy, business, and the Internet. Thank you, William Shakespeare:
So what accounts for the global dominance of the English language? The political and economic supremacy of England and the United States is just the beginning of the explanation. For it could be said that while the British Navy secured military victory for the British Empire, Shakespeare’s words were used to secure the peace. For instance, reacting to the horrors of the First World War, a publication entitled English Speaking World called Shakespeare “the greatest stabilizing force in the world…Shakespeare has given us [a] universal language medium in which are crystalized the battle hymns, the intellectual conceptions and the spiritual aspirations of the Anglo-Saxons.”
There were many technological advances that helped the spread and standardization of English, from William Caxton’s introduction of the printing press to England, to the formation of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). And it was through the new medium of film that Shakespeare’s plays were utilized to express the political aspirations of the British Empire, notably Sir Laurence Oliver’s production of Henry V in 1944. Like the King James Bible, the works of Shakespeare are a powerful engine of Britain’s cultural supremacy. More than any other cultural products, these works exerted an enormous influence throughout the world and simultaneously created and reinforced the dominance of the English language.