English as a Global Language I was inspired to write this piece
I was inspired to write this piece because some weeks ago a little Spanish girl came to me and asked me why she should learn English' Why indeed!
This essay will look at what in fact makes English a global language. Whilst restrained by the amount of words that are required for this part of the unit, I will try to include as much information as I can, however brief, to give the reader a more balanced view of this subject.
The English language has become the language of choice throughout the world. Although it is not the most spoken language in the world (mandarin-Chinese) it is growing in popularity and soon, it is estimated, will be the most spoken language in the world. The English Language has become a 'lingua franca'. This is the term given to a language that is used for the means of communication between nations that do not already use English as their first language.
It is estimated that there are over 300 million native speakers and 300 million who use English as a second language and a further 100 million use it as a foreign language. It is the language of science, aviation, computing, diplomacy and tourism. It is listed as the official or co-official language of over 45 countries and is spoken extensively in other countries where it has no official status. The English language plays a part in the cultural, political and economical life of these countries.
The term 'global English' all started around 1620 when travellers from England set off across the great oceans of the world with colonisation as their main purpose. 1620 saw the travellers happen upon North America, and to this day they still use the language of English as their native tongue. Through the years that followed, the native English man set about discovering new lands to colonise and in doing so found Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica and India to name but a few. All these countries still use English as their native language or at least as the language of institution/government.
As mentioned before; politics and economics are also a big reason for the English language becoming a 'global language'. The main reason influencing this fact is the world dominance that the United States of America imposes on the rest of the world. Such companies as Coca-Cola and McDonalds are just to name a few. The USA was also responsible for giving the world Internet access. Although they didn't invent the system, they are responsible for making it accessible to the world. The Internet has become a huge resource of information, and it is primarily to be found in English.
The western world is moving into what some economists describe as the 'post-industrial' revolution. Travel and the tourist trade is thriving in such climates, thus as we are seeing, the English language is being carried to parts of the world that before never considered speaking English. Travel information and directions can usually be found in English in most destinations for tourists, as it is in air and sea communications throughout the world.
Another area of influence is from the world of 'popular culture'. Again, the USA is a major contributor to how English is filtering into everyone's lives wherever they may be. Whether it is music or television, the common factor is that English is going out across the globe.
Whilst only scratching the surface of this hugely debated subject, it is worth considering the likely outcomes of the English Language dominating so much of the world. The up side is easy to see, where one language is seen to bring everyone closer together whilst the down side is rather more sinister since we could be witnessing the slow demise of smaller languages and with it the cultures and histories of nations. As David Crystal puts it, it would be 'the greatest intellectual disaster that the planet has ever known'.
Resources Used For this essay
The Practise of English Language ' Jeremy Harmer.
The concise Oxford English dictionary.
Practical English usage ' Swan
Published writing on the net: 'The spread of English and its Appropriation' ' MA Thesis; Daniel Spichtinger.
'Lingua ' An International Language (1888) ' George Henderson. 'Interlanguage' ' (1951) ' Huge Blair.