Stop Stalling, Get Writing. NaNoWriMo is here !

NaNoWriMo 2017
Good Morning WriMo’s,

This is my 2nd year at NaNo. Last year I started a sci-fi novel, reached my 50,000 word count and continued it – it is still progressing, has passed 100,000; but that’s for another time. This year I am trying a new approach. Planning!!!!! 

I am late to the party this year, partly because of that and due to other writing commitments: I have a little map of the village in my notebook, all the villagers names, family connections and job roles in the community i.e. dyer, scribe, labourer etc. I have NEVER planned a story before.

I will be ‘trying’ to write a piece of Magical Realism, set in late 17th early 18th century. Suzanna is a 12 year old on the cusp of womanhood. All she wants is to be the May Queen and for James Joseph to fall in love with her. An isolated village, the Church, culture and conformity, and Oak Tree Jesus!

 

And so begins my introduction to this years NaNoWriMo event.

NaNoWriMo?? I hear you cry – what is wrong with you Alex, have you forgotten how to speak or are you making up new words?

National Novel Writing Month – shortened to nanowrimo –  is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000 word manuscript between November 1 and November 30. But you don’t have to!

If you’re a writer and need something to motivate you – this might prove to be worth a shout. I joined, last year, on the recommendation of a fellow Wirral Writer. I work alone, I like working alone, I don’t mix well when it comes to creativity, I don’t want to share my ideas and I don’t want to make new friends – if that sounds like you, then NaNo is still fit for purpose. You do not have to do anything you don’t want. But I got a hell of a lot of words written! I found that this works for me, I need a ‘kick-up-the-arse’, not because I don’t write or enjoy it, but because I get lost in the minutiae, or I wander off into the Land of Research – for example, did you know that not everyone in England in the 16th century had a chimney on their house? Chimneys were a luxury, a luxury!! – see what I mean?

Last year I was what is commonly called, a ‘Pantser’ – writing by the seat of your pants, not organised or planned. This year, it’s Planner; let’s see how that goes.

Sure, some people go all the way, they keep in touch, they communicate with new writing friends, they even meet up at venues for real-life ‘write-ins’ as well as virtual ones. It is a perfect writing platform as you use as little or as much of it as you want. You can see other people’s word counts – so you are either incentivized or proud as a peacock throughout.

So, if you are beginning a new story, or even in the middle of one, you can join the community and share as much, or as little, of your experience throughout the month of November – just get that story written!

Before NaNo – daydreaming, and during NaNo – working!

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Inglish, It’s An Odd One

I know I mis-spelt the word in the heading! Irritating? Confusing? Not as much as the following will be…

I guess you have to be born in Britain to fully understand the peculiarities of our language. Most of the time you don’t have to explain what you mean – like belonging to a gang that has it’s own idiosyncratic lingo, the English have words, phrases and grammar that does not always make sense to a foreigner. Add to that, the odd dialectic words that are peculiar to geographic areas; that you don’t find anywhere else in the UK, and you have a potential minefield.

  • Stuff we say – but don’t mean:

“How are you?” Mostly, the English don’t want to know how you are, this is simply another way to say ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’. You’ll come across this in a place of work where people are hurrying past each other – “How’re you?” or “You alright?” (depending on location), is answered with “Fine. You?” then move on.

“That’s quite good.” Usually translates as, “That’s rubbish!” We’re just being polite. Don’t take it personally. An English person would actually recognise this as being quite a barbed comment, if said with the right tone!

With respect.” Probably said at work or in middle of a heated debate. This usually means, “You’re an idiot! I’m being patient with you. And I don’t agree with anything you’ve said!”

When invited out for a social event, or to visit your home, you might suggest getting together sometime. An English person will most likely say, “That’d be nice.” What he or she is thinking is, “Oh no, please don’t invite me out. I can’t think of anything I would less like to do.”

“It’s fine.” Watch this one. You have most likely offended. It actually translates as, “Are you a f***ing idiot!”

If an English person says “Thank you” in a determined way, or “Your welcome” it is most likely in response to another person being rude – i.e. not holding a door open, or not making eye contact when giving change. They are pointing out your rudeness.

“I beg your pardon?” If it sounds like a question, we’re not asking for your pardon, we’re miffed at something you said or did. It means, “Explain yourself, you disgusting creature!”

  • Words that mean more than one thing – reading and speaking are two/too different things:

Vowels sound different depending on the job of the word, stress placed on beginning or end of a word makes it a different noun.

The farm was used to produce produce.

The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

I did not object to the new object.

The psychologist had to subject the subject to a test.

  • Britain still has a class system; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you are lucky, or unlucky depending on your point of view, you might mix with all four! Yes, despite what some would like to believe, Britain is a multi-layered society and we all know our place!

    Upper class are the posh peeps; ‘old money’, though many these days have little cash as their stately homes have sucked it all up. They don’t usually have a job.

Middle class (and within this are the upper and lower middle), these are the aspirational, moneyed, living in comfort. Managers in private companies, government employees and teachers fit n here.

Working class (within this are also two levels; according to pay, benefits, lifestyle) are what it sounds like, workers in lower paid jobs; industry (little of that left), shop-workers, teaching assistants, nurses and carers.

Trying to say the correct version of a word in a given social situation can even trip up the English!

Toilet, Lavatory, Loo – or Bog?

Bicycle, Bike, Cycle?

Lunch or Dinner?

Pudding, Sweet, Dessert – or Afters?

Sick, Ill, Poorly, Unwell – or Under The Weather?

Pardon, Sorry, What?

Napkin or Serviette?

Front Room, Lounge, Living Room?

Settee, Sofa, Couch?

Pants, Undies, Knickers?

  • Names that will fry your noodle:

Place-names as well as family names in Britain can be complicated. If you mispronounce a place-name the locals might have a laugh at your expense, but it reveals that you are ‘not one of us’. If you mispronounce a family name (especially those complicated upper-class ones), then you a revealing that ‘You really are NOT one of us’ (ugh!)

Name                              Not like this                                 Say this

Aldeburgh                   Alda-berg                                       Olbra

Beaulieu                      Bow-lee-oo                                     Bewlee

Beauchamp                 Bow-champ                                   Beecham

Cholmondeley            Chol-mon-delly                             Chumley

Dalziel                          Dalzee-el                                        Deeyell

Farquhar                      Far-que-har                                  Farkwa

Gloucester                    Glaow -cester                              Glosta

Mainwaring                 Main-wearing                             Mannering

Norwich                        Nor-witch                                    Norritch

By the way, American English is another thing altogether, just don’t talk about it with a Brit!!!! 

And another thing to fry your noodle about English, I have  attempted to stick to English and it’s dialects. Scots, Welsh and Irish have their own idiosyncrasies, but they do speak English. You may have noticed me flipping between the words English and British; I refer to myself as British as I am a mix of Irish, English and Scottish, I am not just English – except on a form when there is not option for Anglo-Irish. There has been a decades long debate about English or British, and because one of the opinions-that I agree with- is that the REAL British are the Welsh, who were pushed west by the Anglo invaders, then I cannot, by my own argument, be British!!!

English – it is what you make it! Good Luck!

victorian-men-and-women
“Nice hat.” (Not!)

Writing is…Hard

Writing is….Hard

Well, writing per se is not hard. However, writing well is!

It is quite easy to put pen to paper, finger tips to keys, or quill to parchment; whatever takes your fancy, I do it all the time. It does not make what I write worthy of reading, or even particularly good.

As an adult who is fairly new to the world of writing, I realise how very little I was taught at school, and probably because teachers work to a curriculum which itself is about passing exams. I am not alone in this lack of education regarding how to write. I was not, for example, taught the difference between an essay and a story, an assignment, a dissertation, or a thesis. I have had to pick these up in the later years of my life – a huge indictment on the English Education system.

Writing is not hard because I am dull-witted; I am not.

Writing is a creative activity, it demands a skill with words that, sadly, many so-called authors do not have. Word-smiths work hard at compiling and re-arranging 26 letters (in English) into a plethora of ideas, and use the same 26 letters over again for completely different themes.

Writing well is demanding.
It requires practise. It requires persistence. It requires commitment. It requires creativity. It requires honesty. Anyone can produce word vomit – it’s recognising the good bits that makes the difference.

Recently, I have been asking myself – who cares? Or, So what?

Who cares if you wrote a tragedy about a lovelorn grass snake? So what if you ‘have a story inside’, do you really have to share it? What make you think anyone wants to read it? I have been guilty of producing some trite nonsense, I need to stop. And so do a lot of people.

Self criticism seems to be sorely lacking in many individuals. I blame the school system; everyone can be creative, everyone is a winner – no they can’t and no they are not. This lack of competition has created a society with a watery attitude to the arts; vapid outpourings of equally vapid individuals.

And this criticism is not only levelled at ‘young up and coming’ authors – there are many brilliant new writers – no, I have read some tosh from long established writers who seem to pump out vast quantities of barely edited text, in the infuriating belief that more is better. It is not.

Many authors have only ever produced one or two novels – would that the others had!!!!

Writing is hard for blog snoopy
Writing is hard for Snoopy…

Pain

 

We have all felt pain at some point in our lives, whether it be physical or emotional or psychological.

Pain_Quotes6

Last night, we had to go to A & E with a family member as she had such bad pains in her chest, she thought it was how a heart attack felt (she is 19 years old) – she is fine by the way; nothing found, heart is healthy; unexplained.

She was asked by various medical practitioners throughout the evening, “On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most painful, where would you say your pain is?” She said 7 – which surprised me.
Why did it surprise me?

It got me thinking about how we measure pain, who is to say my pain is worse than yours? On a scale of 1 to 10, to me 7 is really high.

The word pain, comes from 11th century French peine “difficulty, woe, suffering, punishment, which in turn came from Latin poena “punishment, penalty, retribution. The earliest sense in English survives in phrase on pain of death.

We can also be a pain to another person by being annoying and/or irritating. Take pains to do something means taking great care. Plato and Aristotle, considered pain to not be a sensory experience, but an emotional one. So if the heart experienced pain, it was from an external source – anyone who has had their heart ‘broken’ in love might relate with this idea.

images

I have never broken a bone (touch wood -we’ll do superstitions another time!), but I have dislocated a toe – kicking someone – no, I am not a hooligan, I was training in Tae Kwon Do and didn’t pull my toes back! I have cut myself on numerous occasions, I have stubbed my toe many times, I have stabbed myself with a chisel – I studied sculpture at Art college – I have torn ligaments, damaged both Achilles tendons, twisted a joint, fallen down stairs,suffer from migraines, have osteoarthritis and have given birth -once – once is enough!!

So, you see I am no stranger to pain – physical pain. I have been dumped by a boyfriend and had depression in late teen to early twenties, but what’s the worst pain I have ever felt? Besides giving birth, (definitely a 10!) it was a pain that Aristotle would say came from outside my body:

On a family and friends holiday in Cornwall 15 years ago, on a beach. Me and my friend ‘K’ and our girls; one each, were building a sandcastle. K’s daughter was 5 years old, mine 3. In the blink of an eye, my daughter was suddenly not there. We called and searched the immediate vicinity – a crowded beach filled with bathers, children, pod-tents, beach toys, surfers, rock-pools, caves, you get the picture. My husband and male friend ‘P’ had gone for a walk along the beach to investigate caves. K’s daughter stayed at ‘base camp’, keeping a lookout, I ran along the shoreline, K searched the rock-pools! The ensuing panic was horrendous, my chest was tight, I was crying in gulps and almost choking – I understood the phrase ‘heart in her mouth’ and grasped my chest in pain, it felt like my heart was literally in my throat and I was going to die from emotional pain. I ran along the beach yelling at the top of my lungs for my husband and P; they joined the hunt. This went on for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably closer to twenty minutes.

quotes-about-pain-4

Eventually we found her, less than fifteen feet from the sandcastle, crouched behind someone’s pod-tent digging away, oblivious to the activity and the search and our calls. You can imagine the relief; my body shook with it.

So on a scale of 1 to 10, how much pain was I in? Well, it cannot really be compared to the pain I experienced giving birth to same child, but I would still say a 10 – maybe 11 – because I’m dramatic. I cry when I see starving, dying or abused children on TV, I actually feel a pain in my chest – btw, it gets worse when you become a mother!!

People feel pains at different levels, we have thresholds, and some have a higher threshold than others – it does not mean that their pain is not real, or painful. Your pain is yours, and no-one can tell how much it hurts. Is a broken leg more or less painful than a broken heart? Who knows, but one things certain, you know you’re alive when you feel it!

3514a3c04226f277414b4d92af8c089e

 

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=pain

http://www.internationalreporting.org/pain/history-of-pain/

 

What’s the Word?

Hello again my fair followers, my cute consumers of creative calligraphy; you gluttons for punishment! Nah, not that last one, well maybe, just a little. *gives devilish grin.

So you’ve been coming here for a while now and know that I write; books as well as this blog (some poetry too, but the less said about that the better), and I have covered word origins on a couple of occasions, but then I thought – what about the word ‘word’? I know! You did too didn’t you?! How bizarre that we write and speak these words, but have ever wondered, ‘where did the word ‘word’ come from Alex?’

I’m glad you asked, I did the work for you…

 

Word    

Is a unit of speech and writing, a single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing, used with others (or sometimes alone) to form a sentence and typically shown with a space on either side when written or printed; as in “I don’t like the word ‘anti-climax’ .”

It can also be a command, password, or signal, for example, “Smithers gave me the word to start shooting.”

As a verb it expresses something in particular words. “She words her request in a particularly ironic manner.”

And then there is the fairly current usage that expresses agreement or affirmation. “Word, that’s a good record, man.”

Howlin Wolf I want to have a word with you
Howlin’ Wolf could never have sung                           “I want a word with you.”

Etymology of the word ‘word’

It is Old English; c. 1200, meaning “to utter” of Germanic origin; related to Dutch Woord and German Wort. Originally from the proto-indo-european root Were, which means to speak or say. Makes me wonder what people said before word was part of the language when they needed to have it out with someone – “Oi! I want to speak to you!” doesn’t feel as hard-hitting as “Oi! A word!”

a-world-of-words-3-1024

 

Then it snuck into our language and we thought no more about it, it became a thing in and of itself without us paying much attention, it appended itself to other words to create new words.

 

‘Word’ and ‘Word Up’

Now I thought this had fallen out of use, what a fool. Certain groups of young people and even older generations who may have spun around too much on their heads as teens, or really cool black dudes still use this.  For those not in the know, it means – “I comprehend what you are saying and verify that your statement is true, my good brother.” Both are generally used to mean “I agree.” The terms are from late 1980’s hip-hop slang. Some say popular usage probably originated with the single Word Up! by Cameo. It is definitely of African American tradition; particularly it’s oral tradition and may be rooted in a belief in the power of the Word. The African concept of Nommo, the Word, is believed to be the force of life itself. To speak is to make something come into being.

Ali G Word

 

The Word 

Was a 1990’s Channel 4 television programme in the United Kingdom. Its presenters included Mancunian radio presenter Terry Christian, comedian Mark LamarrDani Behr, and Katie Puckrik. Originally it was broadcast at 6pm Friday evenings; The Word’s main live show was shifted to a late-night time-slot from 9 November 1990. The magazine format allowed for interviews, live music, features and even game shows. The flexible late-night format meant that guests could do just about anything to be controversial. ‘Language’ was never bleeped out, as far as I can remember, and there was some choice language at times. There was also an ‘I’ll do anything to be on television’ section called “The Hopefuls” in which people ate worms, bathed in maggots, licked sweat off fat people, intimately kissed old people, and did generally repulsive things in order to get featured on the programme. It was repulsive and horribly fascinating at the same time.

The Word

 

 

The Word (2)

Britain’s first democratic socialist tabloid newspaper. Begun online in 2015, it is a socialist hub with the involvement of as many people as possible from the socialist movement in Britain. The politics, they say, are broadly in line with those of Jeremy Corbyn and believe in justice, equality, truth, courage and that only by sharing as fairly as possible the resources of this planet will we be able to live in harmony with each other.

the-word-new-design-best-s

 

WordPress

A free software that can be used to create a website or blog. It originated in 2003 simply as code that enhanced typography and has evolved into the largest self-hosted blogging platform in the world.

wordpress

Microsoft Word 

Is a graphical word processing program that users can type with. It is made by the computer company Microsoft. Its purpose is to allow users to type and save documents. Similar to other word processors, it has helpful tools to make documents. The first version of Microsoft Word was developed by Charles Simonyi and Richard Brodie, former Xerox programmers hired by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1981. Both programmers worked on Xerox Bravo, the first WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) word processor.

Word 2.0
Word 2.0

 

‘What’s The Word?’

This is another phrase with its roots in black culture. Depending on your situation, it could mean a number of things. It can mean – “How are you?” or “What are we doing tonight my good chap?” or “What’s the news?” (about specific or non-specific topic) .

Singer/song-writer, Gil Scott-Heron used the phrase in his 1976 song ‘Johannesburg’; a protest song about South Africa’s apartheid system, and when Scott-Heron asked, “What’s the word? / Tell me brother, have you heard from Johannesburg?” he was begging for an update on what was going on.  Remember young ‘uns, this was before the internet! Yes, there was life before Twitter and Facebook. “We don’t know for sure, because the news we get is unreliable, man,” Scott-Heron continues in the song. ‘The Word’ in this instance is of vital importance.

gil-scott-heron.jpg

 

And finally, with no need for explanation is…drum roll…..

 

The Word of God

Word-of-God

 

Word –  

pretty powerful for text with only 4 letters!!

Thanks for visiting folks, I hope this post was interesting, or at least informative – remember – spread the word!!

 

 

Bibliography

Roc the Mic Right: The Language of Hip Hop Culture’, by H. Samy Alim, 2006

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=word

https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/the-many-uses-of-the-word-word

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=word%20up

http://thewordmedia.org.uk/

https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Word

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8z4a86aggU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZjAantupsA&list=RDMZjAantupsA#t=0

Shame on You?

How many of you want to hide under your desk when your behaviour at the office party is discussed over the following days? (Yeah you have.)

How many times did you hang your head in shame as a child because of your actions?

Shame: noun

1.the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonourable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another: She was overcome with shame.

2. disgrace; ignominy: His actions brought shame upon his parents.

Psychology Today defines shame as – Shame: A Concealed, Contagious, and Dangerous EmotionShame informs you of an internal state of inadequacy, dishonor, or regret . As a self-conscious emotion,shame informs you of an internal state of inadequacy, unworthiness, dishonor, or regret about which others may or may not be aware.

Shame is closely related to Guilt. Many psychologist will argue that shame is harmful to the inner self. Shame is internalised, shame can destroy self-perception. Good old guilt on the other hand, is an external admission to something you have done wrong – or something you perhaps should have done but failed to. Shame is internalized and deeply connected to our sense of who we are. Guilt is often passing. Shame-based comments appear to be accurate statements about our character or lack thereof. Those comments are easily internalized as truth about who we are, haunting us long after the comment was made. Guilt, on the other hand, fades with time or after corrective action is taken.

We love to ‘name and shame’. Even better, we love to ‘name and shame’ publically; social media is a fantastic tool for the ‘shame-r’ to use against the ‘shame-e’ (So they aren’t real words! Yet! Just you wait).

And shame, might I add, is not in the eye of the beholder. Some people are completely shameless; much like Frank Gallagher.

shame 1

Let’s have a look at Guilt V Shame examples:

Donald Trump tried to intimidate his former FBI director into silence by threatening to release secret recordings of their conversations.

Donald Trump baselessly accused President Obama’s national security adviser of committing a crime — after his White House conspired with the head of the House Intelligence Committee to foment a false scandal.

He violated federal law by claiming proceeds from various Trump products would go to charity, although there is no evidence that Trump ever donated the money to charity.

His vow to use torture on suspected terrorists would violate the Geneva conventions. He would be committing war crimes.

He suggested that women should be “punished” for having abortions and “joked” that he’d date his daughter!!!!! (WTF!)

Seeing a pattern here folks? Mr. T has perhaps the longest list of actions and activities that come under the label ‘guilty’, and yet, the man evidently feels no shame whatsoever. (And not only guilty, but libelous. Seriously, how is this man still President?!)

He believes not only, that he is the law, but that he is above the law. He has been sued over 3,500 times in his career, including 70 times during his campaign. He blithely tweets comments and opinions that seem to have been dredged up from a recent dream. He has absolutely no understanding of world politics and how the historical interference of America and the UK have brought us to where we are today.

The man is a buffoon, without the charm (and I use that term loosely folks) of Boris Johnson. And the irony is, he bandies the word ‘shame’ about like a fat cudgel made of Bratwurst. He truly does not know the emotion of shame. I bet he shits bullets; his insides must be as cast-iron as his skin and brains.

Choose your shameful buffoon

 

Now let’s just enjoy some moments that the man should be ashamed of –

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http://www.pajiba.com/politics/a-complete-list-of-all-the-times-donald-trump-has-broken-the-law.php

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/06/every-terrifying-thing-that-donald-trump-has-done.html

http://sticktrump.com/

 

 

 

 

Do You Speak ‘Proper’ English?!

Good morning, Bonjour, Guten Morgen, Buenos Dias, Buongiorno, Shubh Prabhaat, Sabāḥul kẖayr.

Aren’t words brilliant!

English words I find especially so – as I am British ( I say British as I do not consider myself English; I have Irish parentage, with Scottish and Cornish ancestry) and we are an extraordinarily mixed race that has absorbed, from countries across the world, words that have become embedded so deeply that we have almost forgotten the origins. I love the etymology of words, names, nouns, things, stuff, anything! I think I may have mentioned in a previous post the origin of the word orange – it is from the Persian, narange.

677px-Origins_of_English_PieChart.svg

Language changes can denote when a country was historically invaded, when merchants brought more home than products and coin, when integration was necessary. Language is a living, ever evolving, and fascinating marker to our connections worldwide.

My previous snob of a self used to scoff at ‘Americanisms’ – i.e. garbage, diaper, aluminum. These words travelled from Holland and England to the New World and remained in use alongside those from farther afield. Now I understand the use of garbage, as compared to rubbish; it makes sense.

Today’s post is a collection of words that have entered our, English, language from the wider world community, so here is a small, very small, collation to whet your appetite –

Plant, wine, cat, candle, anchor, chest, fork, rose – Roman, circa AD 410.

english language romans

Birth, cake, call, egg, freckle, happy, law, leg, sister, smile, trust – Old Norse, circa AD 900.

english language 3

Army, archer, soldier, Crown, throne, duke, nobility, peasant, servant, obedience, traitor, felony, arrest, justice, judge, jury, accuse, condemn, prison, gaol, ballet, café, genre, garage – French, circa 1066 to present.

english language MP
Peasant!

Boss, coleslaw, landscape, cruise, frolic, rucksack, roster, wagon, onslaught – Dutch, various.

Abseil, angst, cobalt, delicatessen, doppelganger, dachshund, fest, haversack, kitsch, kaput – German, various.

DmGCH6.gif
The German v Greek Philosophers Football Match (Monty Python)

Veranda, jungle, bandana, chit, dinghy, pyjama, juggernaut, cashmere, thug, shampoo – Hindi, circa 18th and 19th c.

Banjo, chimpanzee, zebra, zombie, banana, jazz, cola, bozo, boogie, okay – Africa, circa 18th and 18th c.

english language 5

Alcohol, algebra, chemistry, elixir, cipher, zero, zenith, alcove, amber, assassin, candy, coffee, cotton, mummy, racquet, sash, crimson, ghoul, giraffe, lemon, orange – Arabic, various.

english language arabic

Flannel, corgi, penguin, pendragon, bard, balderdash, druid, crag – Welsh, various.

Blackmail, clan, glamour, golf, scone, wraith, tweed – Scottish, various.

 

Looking into the origins of some words provides us with, not only origins and meaning, but the circumstances under which such words have entered the English language.

I think we should be proud have having such connections and ability to borrow, adapt and absorb words into our everyday use. It makes me feel I belong to a greater community.

english language

 

For some excellent reading on this subject, take a look at:

english MB

The Adventure of English by Melvyn Bragg.