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Tasks and Activites

English and Empire

The History of English in 10 minutes - Chapter 6 (OU)


  1. This lecture is called “The Sun Never Sets on the English Language”. How does the original saying go? Why do you think the lecture has this title?
  2. The lecturer says that they decided to take the English language on “a world tour”. What is implied in this?
  3. From the time of Napoleon until WWI,
    • what was the size of the British Empire in sq miles?
    • how many people were part of the British Empire?
  4. How did the British colonies affect the English language and its vocabulary?


  1. Why was it natural to adopt new words from the new countries in the Empire?
  2. Which impact do you think English had on the local languages in the British colonies?
  3. Below you will find some of the words listed in the lecture. Try to trace their origin and their meaning:
    • Bungalow
    • Walkabout
    • Barbeque
    • Nugget
    • Cannibal
    • Yoga
    • Voodoo
    • Rum punch
    • Zombie
    • Canoe

Suggested Further Reading

  1. The Origins of the English Language
  2. Why So Much Variety in English?

Related content

CC BY-SAWritten by: Knut Inge Skifjeld and Eli Huseby.
Last revised date 06/15/2018

Learning content

English as a world language