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alacrity (uh-LAK-ri-tee) noun

1. Cheerful willingness; eagerness.

2. Speed or quickness; celerity.

[Latin alacritas, from alacer, lively.]

"Snider was approved by the museum's board with an alacrity that borders on the suspicious, though time was of the essence: Weyl had already left." Meir Ronnen, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Jerusalem Post, 13 Sep 1996.

English is a global language. With the rise of electronic communication, worldwide trade and international travel, its status has far surpassed that of a link language. English is equated with success. Wherever you go-- from the luxuriant rain-forests of Costa Rica to the untamed wilds of Serengeti to the hodgepodge of Eastern bazaars--you're sure to find someone who speaks English albeit in an accent far different from yours. If nothing else, English makes a disguised appearance in hybrids such as Franglais, Spanglish, Hindlish, etc.

Of course, this rise in popularity of English is not without a downside. Talk with someone for whom English is not a first language and you sense a feeling of loss. Reactions vary the gamut--from the trace of helplessness of parents whose children can't appreciate a poem in their native language, to lawmakers making it mandatory for a company to also have a Web site in the language of their country before the company can do business there.

What do you think? I'd love to hear from you about this subject whether English is your first language or not. Email garg AT wordsmith.org and in the meanwhile taste some words taken from newspapers of the world. -Anu


An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don't. -Anatole France

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