October 1, 2012
Language has the ability to define history. English in particular has proven this true, spanning time, space, and culture. My ancestral language is British English, a language native to the United Kingdom. It is of my opinion that without English, the world would be a much less cultured, advanced, and civilized place to live. Language is part of what makes us human, and will continue to grow and evolve as we ourselves do.
British English is a language that has continued to thrive throughout many years and tribulations. English had its early beginnings in CE 450, when North Sea coast tribes, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, invaded what is now known as Great Britain (Dawe, Malott 374). Over the next 1400 years, English was influenced by a variety of languages, including Latin, Greek, French, Celtic, Norse, German, Dutch, and Spanish (A Very Brief). Today, English is a first language for over 400 million people and a second language for an additional 375 million (Dawe, Malott 372). In addition to being a principal language of international diplomacy, English is also an official language of 54 countries (English as Official). British English has had a strong influence on Canadian English, contributing a vast number of words; this is largely in part due to early British colonization in North America during the 1700s. However, some words differ between British English and Canadian English; these include the words ‘truck’ and ‘lorry’, and ‘dessert’ and ‘pudding’. Not only does British English have a comprehensive history, it has a definite place in the future of language.
English is a language long present in my family’s past. My ancestor, Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt, immigrated to Canada from England in 1835, joining his father, who was already living in Canada (Galt). He later became a Father of Confederation alongside the first Prime Minister of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald. It was in Sherbrook, Canada, that his wife, Elliott Torrance, gave birth to their first-born son, Elliott Torrance Galt, the first Canadian English speaker of the Galt family (Galt). Born in 1850, my fifth great-grandfather attended Bishop’s College, where his knowledge of Canadian English was consummated. Elliott Torrance Galt’s use of Canadian English proved to be beneficial, allowing him to rise quickly in the business world. With his skills in communication, he amassed a substantial amount of support among Canada’s elite and become a prominent figure in the development of Western Canada. Along with his father, he co-founded, in 1883, the city of Lethbridge, Alberta, and went on to become a successful coal magnate (Galt, Sir Alexander). Elliott Torrance Galt’s unprecedented knowledge of Canadian English in the Galt family proved to be beneficial for my family today.
English has affected all Canadian lives, directly and indirectly. My family, in particular, has been deeply affected by the English language. Without English, my ancestor Elliott Torrance Galt would…