First of all, mis disculpas a Ortega.
Oh, for goodness sake, do catch up, that is Spanish for 'my apologies to Ortega', honestly, I don't know what they taught you lot at school, although, to be fair, it would be difficult for any of you to match my superlative grasp of nearly a hundred different languages which, entirely coincidentally, are remarkably similar to those listed at Google Translate! Anyway, a few days ago I stole republished a piece from dear Miss Red which sported a spoof history of the English language. This provoked a comment from Ortega, an old regular here at D&N, which, unfortunately, bloody-bloody Typepad stuck in the spam box. I then added insult to injury by failing to check the damn thing until today - my bad! However, there is a lesson for all you commenters, if your priceless words fail to appear, send me an e-mail!
Anyway, Ortega was kind enough to send me a fascinating and very learn-ed essay on the incredible stew which has bubbled away for 1600 years and finally produced the English language we know and love today - but don't get too fond of it because by tomorrow it will have changed and by the end of the century you will have difficulty recognising it! The essay was written by Prof. John MacWhorter, a terrific linguistics swot from Colombia University. I find quantum physics difficult to understand but linguistics and the origins of the English language isn't far behind. What Prof. MacWhorter's essay does raise in me is a profound sympathy for non-English speakers, people like Ortega, who have to somehow master the madness that makes up the rules (or chaos) that is the English language. The fact that English is, by now, the default language for the entire world is an historical accident, just one more thing the British Empire has to answer for, I suppose!