The Invention of English

Hello and welcome to yet another week of only the fakest of news and the reddest of lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed to me on an oblong post-it note by a resourceful grade 6 student. She asked:

Who invented English?

It is a common misconception that the English language is named after its inventor. Although many languages are named for the person who originated them (good examples of this include French, named for General French; Turkish, named for Turkish Delight, and Phoenician, named for Phoenicia Smith), English is not one of them. The fact that it is typically written with a capital letter is merely in respect of the fact that it is the name of a language, not a language named for a name.

This is not to suggest, however, that the letters that form the word “English” do not hint at its origins. Indeed, they provide a very large hint to the fact that English was invented by engineers.

After decades of labouring in silence, with only rudimentary gestures to guide their shared work, the engineers of what is now the English-speaking world determined that they, too, needed a language, a lingua franca to facilitate innovation and invention, cooperation and coordination. They were more accustomed to inventing machines and structures, but with the best scientific minds of the decade at work together, they were at last able to throw together something at least resembling a language.

Because that language was the one made by engineers, for engineers, the head of the engineering team that created the language (one John English, though his name in most circles has been lost to the mists of time) decided that it should be named, as well, for engineers: and so he called this rudimentary language “English.”

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Disclaimer: the above post is a work of fiction, and does not accurately represent the origins of the English language.

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