English as a Global Language Over the past half half-century the
Over the past half half-century the English language has spread across the globe as the world has become more globalized. As David Crystal states in his article 'English as a Global Language', '' there was hardly any conscious justification for the role of English as the language associated with progress.' (Crystal, p. 75) After World War II the United States took the role of leader of the free world and with its economy rather unscathed from the war it became the leading economy in the world. This and other things factor into the spread of the English language around the globe.
The history of the English language as a global phenomenon begins with the British drive for colonies in the 1600's. Up to this point the language of trade had been Portuguese or Italian. However, with colonies in North America and increasingly in India and South- East Asia, Britain became a Global power and its language began to spread. In India as well as most of its colonies English became the language of trade and administration. Native languages were look down upon as being inferior. English continued to spread throughout the colonies around the world up onto the 20th century. As stated earlier, after World War II the United States became the arsenal of democracy as well as the economic powerhouse. This meant that American businessmen were looking to expand their industries overseas and overseas businesses were looking to get a foot into the American market. English then solidified itself as the language of trade in the world and continued to spread.
Another phenomenon that contributed to the spread of English was the deployment of U.S. soldiers and naval forces overseas. After WWII there were U.S. and British soldiers based in Germany, Japan, and Korea, among other places. Also, America began to export its culture around the world which carried along English language overtones. Rock n' Roll music was sung in English and had a massive impact on people around the world. As time has rolled on many school systems around the globe have recognized that English is an essential language to learn in this era of globalization. Where as in Texas many of us are required to take Spanish in Middle School, many people in India, and South-East Asia are required to take English.
There are some drawbacks to having a global language. While a global language eases commercial restraints caused by the language barrier it takes away from native cultures. While it would be nice to visit a foreign country and be able to be understood, it would also be very boring if the whole world spoke the same language. Cultures and peoples would lose their heritage and identities in what makes them special and unique. I for one enjoy learning new languages and seeing new places. If I were to go to China and everyone spoke English it may be convenient, however it would not be China. At least not the China I would want to see.
Hopefully as time goes on English will not consume the globe entirely. I think there can be a perfect mix of English and peoples native languages. If people maintain their native language and culture and just learn a couple words of English then that would be great. The English language over the past couple of centuries has spread across the globe and influenced many events in history. Now since it is the dominant language on the internet it looks like it could keep its title of 'the most globalized language' for at least another century.
Crystal, David. English as a Global Language. Cambridge, UK. Cambridge University Press. 1997
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