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English and Computer - A twin-blessing for India

Published On : 16 May 2024

World English Day, also known as United Nations (UN) English Language Day, is celebrated annually on 23rd April. The day aims to recognise and celebrate the impact of the English language globally as a tool for communication, diplomacy, and cultural exchange.
The day is observed to honour the birth and death anniversary of the legendary playwright William Shakespeare, who had a profound impact on the English language.

 English and Computer - A twin-blessing for India

Prof. Mathew C Ninan, Director, Little Rock, Brahmavar, Udupi)

India is still fighting the unemployment menace with limited success. Successive governments have painted rosy pictures about employment creation. Nevertheless, everybody knows only too well that unemployment is an intractable problem in our country.

In such a scenario, almost in a serendipitous manner, there appeared the twosome - English and Computer, the greatest gifts of the last millennium. Sometimes miracles come in pairs. Millions of our youth are able to gain employment within the country or abroad because of their knowledge of English and their Computer skills. This is undeniably true.

If we conduct a survey of the 25 to 35 years employed age-group, we will undoubtedly find that 90% of them are beneficiaries of one or both of these skills.

Why English?

Nobody grudges English these days, except perhaps those incurably prejudiced against a foreign language. Even the zealots of our vernacular languages vouch for the necessity to learn English. The earlier animosity has disappeared, mercifully.

English is not any particular nation’s language anymore. It’s a universal language spoken by more people in the world, than any other language. Even countries like France, Germany and China who once zealously defended their languages against English’s influence have now started teaching their children English in their schools.

English is the official language of around 67 countries, and is estimated to be spoken by at least 20% of the world’s population, which is a staggering 2 billion. India accounts for a few million English speakers within this number.

English has the largest vocabulary among the languages of the world. There are an estimated 1,71,146 words currently in use in the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. New words are being added to its lexicon almost every day, enhancing its versatility and universality. Dr Samuel Johnson, the first lexicographer would be amazed at the vast vocabulary of English if he ever paid a surprise visit now. It’s the lingua franca of the world; the gateway to the world, transcending all boundaries.

English is the language of the air. Every pilot is expected to know English to communicate with the Air Traffic Controllers, the world over. They have seamless landing and take-off, thanks to English. Such is the sweep and range of English.

English is the language of Science, Technology and the Internet. All the world’s latest discoveries, innovations and inventions are recorded in the English language. An instant translation is available in English even if it’s recorded in another language in any part of the world.

Global communication is made possible through English. It bridges the gap between cultures, languages and people. World peace hangs on the power of communication in English. The UN Security Council and General Assembly transact chiefly in English, though five more languages are in use.

Computer and everything that goes with it

The world today is controlled by computers in one form or the other. The whole world is under the spell of computers. We cannot imagine any major activity in any field without the involvement of computers. A laptop computer or tablet has become an essential component of most educational and business activities. It’s no more an exotic machine. It’s just a friendly personal inventory.

It is the greatest miracle of the last century. The world salutes the Englishman Charles Babbage silently even if many tend to forget his name. The mystery of computers is becoming deeper and deeper as time goes on. The supercomputer is already here, promising many more astonishing feats.

The Internet (www) has elevated the computer to greater possibilities. The world is at our finger-tips today because of the way computers access information using the Internet. Knowledge is not only easily accessible, but it’s also swiftly transmitted from one end of the world to the other, within seconds.

The world is every young person’s oyster today because of English and the computer. We cannot imagine a life without both today.

How they have both been a blessing to me

Pardon me for a personal allusion at this point. I have been a beneficiary of both English and Computers. English, because it’s the language that enraptured me and made me a passionate English Teacher. My romance with the language continues even during my golden years now, and will continue till I ride off into the sunset.

Computer made my literary pursuits possible. My fascination to see my thoughts in print took me at first to the typewriter and touch-typing. I graduated to computers eventually and it has come to stay as my lifelong companion. Every text that I turn out is in English and on my computer.

I cannot imagine a life without both. This must be the testimony of every person who reads this piece.


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