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English as a Global Language Throughout history, the world has been
Throughout history, the world has been the home of various societies vying for survival and control in a resource-limited surrounding landscape. The groundwork of those societies was communication, and more precisely, language, which enabled those people to flourish and ultimately maintain control of that land and resources so vital for community survival. With the formation of societies comes the need to share goods, commodities and resources, and to do so one needs to effectively communicate with a vast array of different people and cultures who often speak in different languages or dialects. These differing societies must come to an understanding of one language which the two will both learn and use as a mode of effective communication. In many cases the domineering society, or that which is understood to be the alpha society with regards to size, wealth, power, and military might, controls the communicative link between the two and thus thrusts their language on the other as the effective mode of communication.
The Egyptians, Greeks and Persians were all dominating forces in the early phases of developed human civilization, each in their own right, and they were then followed by the Romans, and later the French. The British were the domineering society controlling that link after the industrial revolution and they were then passed by the United States following World War II. Both countries speak English. Throughout civilization, the necessity of trade, business and commerce, tied in with cultural imperialism, enabled one dominating language to spread and become the foundation for the success of the Western world as a working community, from Greek to Latin, Arabic, and then French. Today that language is English, first used by the British and later by the new world imperial leader, the United States (2).
Today, with control of the main modes of business and communication, especially in the telecommunications industry, the United States has pushed, unknowingly perhaps, its language and culture on other non- English speaking nations who want to do business and share resources with them. English, the second most widely spoken language in the world and third most widely distributed after Mandarin and Hindi, is a Germanic language from the Indo-European language family that uses the Latin alphabet as its foundation for writing (1). It has been influenced by other languages, such as Celtic, French and Spanish and has changed its form several times over the course of almost two thousand years. According to the World Factbook, 73% of English speakers are North Americans (including Canadians), 19.9% are British, 4.5% are Australian and 5.5% are of other origin. Around 600 million people speak English regularly and 377 million people speak it as a mother tongue (1).
Former British colonies such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia all still use English as it has remained an important part of their society and culture, especially when it comes to business and commerce (1). Children are taught English and business people learn it in order to communicate and transact business with the English speaking business majority. It is therefore the main language that bridges the gap between differing societies and allows the world to come together and live together in today's modern, capitalistic, and worldly business economic environment. English is also the official language of the European Union and the United Nations, as well as the dominant language of the sciences, where it was found that something like 97 percent of all written scientific papers are written in English (1).
With such a dominating presence in the areas of science, business and communications (computers, software, telecommunications), the English language has moved itself into a position to become the one world language spoken somewhere on every continent, in every country. Other languages will still be spoken and will continue to be taught and spoken as national languages throughout the world, but as more and more people learn English and accept its position as the universal mode of communication, the more entrenched it will be in the minds of people from the Sahara to the Tanami as the only world language.
1.The English Language, Wikipedia Encyclopedia, www.wikipedia.org.
2.History of the English Language, ebbs.english.vt.edu/hel/hel.html.
Note: Other information learned from various readings unrelated to this paper.