LONDON (Reuters) - Zombies, booze and bungalow - three words demonstrating the worldwide roots of English, a language whose global impact goes on show in a new London exhibition.
“The English Effect” created by UK cultural organisation the British Council is a three-part examination of the personal, economic and global benefits of a language used across a modern world historically shaped by the former British Empire.
The Council, which teaches English around the planet, has released a list of 10 English words with foreign roots to highlight a show divided into “Changing Lives”, “Economic Benefits” and “Global Language” interactive zones.
“English is not just ‘our’ language - it truly belongs to the whole world, and brings real benefits to anyone who can speak it,” said British Council Director of Strategy John Worne.
In the exhibition, footballers Didier Drogba and Petr Cech talk about how the language helps them express themselves and understand their colleagues. Visitors will be able to write or tweet their own stories and add them to a “talking wall”.
Economic Benefits investigates the value of the English language to the UK economy - and the economic benefits for English-speaking countries around the world.
Global Language displays a giant map of the world showing the extent to which English has evolved by absorbing words from other languages, looking at words that have come into English from other parts of the world.
Bungalow originated in the Bengal region of India, where it was a name for single-storey homes built for early European immigrants, originally meaning “belonging to Bengal.”
Booze has its origins in the medieval Dutch busen, which means ‘to drink to excess’, while zombies have their roots in West Africa.
The English Effect is on at the Council’s London headquarters until June 29th, when it will go on a tour of Council centres around the world.
The British Council helps people around the world to learn English as part of its work to build relationships for the United Kingdom through English, education and the arts.
It teaches English, administers language qualifications, and works to improve English in education systems worldwide.
Reporting by Paul Casciato; editing by Stephen Addison