English is currently spoken by more people all over the world than any other language. Every time we turn on the television to find out about what is happening in the world, local people are being interviewed in English. Wherever one travels in the world these days English becomes the common language of communication between nationalities. Much has been made of the Internet as an instrument for circulating English around the globe. Eighty percent of what?s on the Internet is in English.
I quote Barbara Wallraff in her article from the Atlantic November 2000 on What Global Language? Technology is expanding English by requiring us to come up with new words to describe all the possibilities it offers. English is used more often in various technological domains such as cars, aviation, radio and television, computers and Internet, nuclear power and space. These are the leading ?lexical growth areas?
English is the working language of the Asian Trade Group ASEAN. It is the de facto working language of ninety eight percent of German research physicists and eighty three percent of German research chemists. It is the official language of the European Central Bank, even though the bank is in Frankfurt and neither Britain or any other predominantly English speaking country is a member of the European Monetary Union. It is the language in which black parents in South Africa overwhelmingly wish their children to be educated. This little list of facts comes from British sources: a report, the future of English and a follow-up newsletter that David Graddol , a language researcher at the Open University and his consulting firm, The English Company U k wrote in 1997 and 1998 for the British Council, whose mission is to promote British Culture world wide, and English as a Global Language (1997) a book by David Crystall, who is a professor at the University of Wales.
One obvious implication is that some of the people using English for business or professional purposes around the world aren?t and needn?t be fluent in it. Barbara Wallraff recently talked to Michael Henry a professor of Slavic literatures at the University of California at Los Angeles who says ?English is much easier to learn poorly and to communicate in poorly than any other language.? To communicate on a day to day basis,--to order a meal,-- to book a room, there?s no language as simple as English.
English can be adopted as a common global language through warfare and colonization, international commerce and through the distribution of information via various medias. In a report for the British Council, a government body that promotes English Culture around the world, a linguist, (David Graddol) cites figures saying that 500 million to a billion people speak English now, as either a first or a second language. The numbers continue to grow as people want to become knowledgeable about English as an up and coming global language.
English achieved its current status only after two of its native speaking countries had become major world powers in fields of business, art and sheer political power. Each of these fields is now best maneuvered in English, therefore the English have an economic and political advantage over anyone who must struggle to express themselves in the language.
English is a versatile and dynamic language, a language that is continually growing and adding new words to its vocabulary. One of the great advantages of English is how adaptable it is. English words can be pronounced in many different ways, correctly or incorrectly and can be understood by other speakers. This is an indication that English will maintain and further reinforce its status as a world language.
For me, being a South African I found that English was the language most spoken in my country even though South Africa has such a diverse mix of different cultures. English is spoken at Government level in South Africa and I cannot foresee any other language, but English being spoken in Government in South Africa in the near future.
Barbara Wallraff (the Atlantic, November 2000)
Paul Sherriff (TEFL teacher 26/09/06)
David Crystall (author-English as a Global Language 1997)
Emili Laube (TEFL teacher 26/09/06)
Robert Phillipson (Internal Review of Education 25/08/06)
C.Barstow (Economist December 2001)
Author: Maliga Naidoo
Date of post: 2007-04-18