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Friday, 24 August 2012

Samuel Daniel on the Global Future of the English Language (1599)



Samuel Daniel, Somerset-born poet (born 1562), prophetic lines from his long poem Musophilus (1599):

And who, in time, knows whither we may vent
The treasure of our tongue, to what strange shores
This gain of our best glory shall be sent,
T'enrich unknowing nations with our stores?
What worlds in th'yet unformed Occident
May come refined with th'accents that are ours?

A longer extract

Complete text of Musophilus

Some see these lines as a source of national pride, others see them as a precursor of 'linguistic imperialism'.

Somewhat Anglocentric, indeed, but I'm more interested in the Somerset connection.

Caliban had an answer:

You taught me language, and my profit on't
Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you
For learning me your language!

Shakespeare, The Tempest.


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