English is a worldwide language. Between 1.5 billion and 2 billion people across the planet speak English. Between 375,000 and 400,000 people are native English speakers. In view of these statistics, many consider the English language to be a world language. Since the English language has become so widespread, it is no surprise that different varieties of English have arisen.
There are many varieties of English spoken in the world. The oldest variety of English is British English, spoken in the United Kingdom. Approximately 60 million people are native British English speakers. The variety of English with the largest number of native speakers is American English, with 225 million native speakers. The other major varieties of English are Canadian English, Australian English, New Zealand English, South African English and Indian English. Some linguists also recognize another classification of a variety of English known as World English. All varieties of English share the same basic tenets of the language, but certain words, phrases or linguistic constructs may differ. For instance, in British English, one says I’m going to hospital. In American English one says I’m going to the hospital. In British English one may say he is going to the cinema, in American English one says he is going to the movies, and in South African English, the phrase is going to the bioscope.
Varieties of English may be further divided into dialects such as Anglo-Cornish or Welsh English in Great Britain, Gallah or Gulf Southern in the United States and Bengali English and Southern Indian English in India. Whatever the variety or dialect, English speakers the world over may communicate with each other, with only occasional gaps in understanding.