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With the inception of European colonialism during the Renaissance, European languages started to spread around the globe. The prime agents were Portuguese, Spanish, English, and French, with Dutch, German, Russian, Italian, and Danish playing a less important role. As a result of their colonial histories and twentieth-century developments, English and Spanish have become the two most widely spoken post-colonial languages world-wide today. Taken together, recent calculations estimate that they have slightly over 820 million native speakers across the globe (with English contributing around 378 million and Spanish about 442 million). Moreover, the two languages share aspects of their colonial and post-colonial development while, at the same time, showing striking differences in the sociolinguistic and typological developments of their respective offspring varieties. Surprisingly, however, a systematic comparative account of the rise of English and Spanish to their current roles as world languages has not been attempted so far. It is one of the aims of the present volume to fill this gap.
This volume compares the evolution and current status of two of the world's major languages, English and Spanish. Parallel chapters trace the emergence of Global English and Spanish and their current status, covering aspects such as language and dialect contact, language typology, norm development in pluricentric languages, and identity construction. Case studies look into the use of English and Spanish on the internet, investigate mixed and alternating lects, as well as ongoing change in Spanish-speaking minorities in the US. The volume thus contributes to current theoretical debates and provides fresh empirical data. While offering an in-depth treatment of the evolution of English and Spanish to the reader, this book introduces the driving factors and the effects of the emergence of world languages in general and is relevant for researchers and students of sociolinguistics, historical linguistics, and typology alike.