To me it has two entirely different meanings and I am not sure which is correct.

1st possible meaning: The use of English is prevalent in not just English-Speaking countries but also in non-English-speaking countries.

2nd possible meaning: The use of English has become inevitably common in English-speaking countries.

The first meaning makes more sense to me, but the second one is proposed in the book as the rightful translation.

I saw this sentence somewhere in a book alone, which means there was no sentence before or after to elaborate the author's intention. The book was explaining the meaning of the word "endemic", which as far as I know means prevalent, native and indigenous.

Edit: Or probably a third meaning would be: The use of English in terms of its origin is not native to today's English-speaking countries

1 Answer 1


"Endemic" has a range of meanings. Here I think it is an extension of the biological meaning: "Not found except in a certain place" Kangaroos are endemic to Australia.

The sentence is saying "The English language is not endemic to English-speaking countries" ("by no means" is an emphatic way of saying "not"). That is, English is also found in other countries. This is your "1st" meaning.

This meaning is guided by common sense. I know that English is used in countries other than England, but this is not true of all other languages. So the first interpretation is true and meaningful. The second is empty of meaning, and doesn't match any sense of "endemic". The third is not true (English is native to England, which is an English speaking country)

  • Thank you for your useful and explicit answer. Now that I'm thinking more, and after reading your explanation, the meaning is very simple and obvious. :^)
    – David
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 15:25
  • While I agree with the answer linguistically, I must disagree biologically. Endemic means that a certain species maintains at least a baseline presence in a defined area without prejudice to other areas; the "not except" element is not part of the biological sense.
    – Deipatrous
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 8:24
  • endenic (of a plant or animal) native and restricted to a certain place. "a marsupial endemic to north-eastern Australia" (dictionary defintion, my emphasis)
    – James K
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 8:31

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