The English language is without doubt the most advanced, the most sophisticated, the most expressive and the most beautiful tongue in the entire world. No other language comes close to the ability of English to express the depth and range of human emotion, shades and nuances of meaning, the subtlest distinctions, with brevity and elegance, prosaically, musically and with a delightfully lively cadence. It is our gift to the world from this sceptred isle. Quite rightly we regard the grunts, clicks and squeaks that lesser breeds call languages with derision. Let them speak English and at once their mental processes rise to a higher level; their tongues, lips and facial muscles move to new and exquisite rhythms as they produce from their mouths the sweetest of sounds - English.
Yet it is a language larded with the history of a thousand years, and not only simile but the understanding of the use of a single word depends on a knowledge of that history. Whether our political class have met their Waterloo and the sound of tumbrels is on the street, whether Brown has constructed a Darien economy, whether bloggers and the fifth estate hold a thin red line against the blood-dimmed tide, and exactly what is it that England expects all depend on a knowledge of history and English literature.
Without a knowledge of English history, the rich deep flavour of the English language becomes a thin and insipid brew, a thing suited to goat-herders and those who scrabble in the dirt with sticks.
Civitas are quite rightly promoting H.E. Marshall's 'Our Island Story' ; although written in 1905, it should be required reading not just for every English schoolchild but for every would-be immigrant and every language student embarking on the magical pleasures of learning English. I commend it.