Today, the 23rd of April, is St. George’s Day — the patron saint of England. It is also William Shakespeare’s birthday, if you can believe such a co-incidence. And to add incredulity to unbelieveableness*, it is also UN Official English Language Day (chosen because it is the Bard’s birthday).
I’m English, and I’m an English teacher. I’m also a bit of a patriot, so it kind of irks when the US flag is used to represent the English language, such as on Duolingo. Although I do understand and accept the reasoning behind this choice (way more Americans than Britons).
Instead of either national flag, some people and organisations combine the British and American flags and use the resulting crossbreed to stand for the English language. This version’s pretty nifty:
And BioWare, my favourite computer game company, have used the Canadian flag!
All of these options work really well. But I wondered to myself, What if there was a dedicated English language flag? What would it look like?
This is my answer to that age-old and most vexing of all questions:
What makes a good flag design? It should be well-balanced, distinctive, obey
vexilololo flaggy rules, and somehow represent what it is supposed to be the flag of. And it should stand out!
WARNING: Boring, Long-winded Explanation Here Follows; Feel Free to Zone Out
I think mine hits the nails on the heads. But what does my flag design represent?
The central pink stripe and the white stripes directly above and below it copy the horizontal part of St. George’s cross in their proportion. And pink itself was the colour of the British Empire. Whatever you think of the British Empire, it is clear that English would not have its current global reach were it not for the Empire.
The blue section at the top directly echoes the blue background of both the US flag (albeit, only in the top-left) and the British flag. The United States, and its cultural, social, economic, political, and military clout, has continued what the British Empire began — the spread and further global entrenchment of English.
Now the thin lines in the bottom. Their proportion, and the alternation of white and non-white, are deliberately meant to echo the US flag. The colours are meant to stand for the various nations which use English: orange, white and green for India, red for both the US and UK amongst other nations.
I make no apologies for recognising British and then American domination; the history of these two nations is utterly impossible to divorce from the story of the English language itself.
What do you think of my design? Do you think I spend too much time worrying about flags, too little about getting a real job?
*that was supposed to allude obliquely to the expression “to add insult to injury”, but I fear a little too obliquely, dear reader.
© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry