Don’t most people understand English?
Travel and Aviation Industries: If you travel a lot, especially to tourist destinations, you will encounter English speaking staff in every airport, major hotel and tour bus. You may also be aware that every single pilot and ground controller worldwide speaks English. This may give you a mistaken idea that most people speak English.
It’s true that many people around the world do speak some form of English, but even more of them don’t.
An Illustration. Picture eight people standing in a circle. They represent all the languages in the world. Only one of those people will understand some degree of English.
Eight-hundred-and-forty-million people speak English as a first or second language. This means that there are over six billion who do not understand the language. If you look for those who cannot read or write English, the number is much higher.
The Real Question. But the question is not really about the English language. I once visited a Navajo (Pronounced Nav-a-ho) reservation in Arizona. I talked to a pastor who holds services each Sunday, and asked if he preached in Navajo.
“Oh no,” he replied. “They all speak English.”
I then visited the Navajo Information Center and talked to one of the Navajo men. “I hear that you all speak English,” I said.
He pondered for a moment, and then said, “We speak in English, but we think in Navajo.”So the real question is not, "What language do the understand?," but, "What is the language in which they think?"
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