English as a Global Language ?Globalization is not a trend or a fad.


'Globalization is not a trend or a fad. It is the international system'that will, and do[es], affect everyone's country, and everyone's company, and everyone's community, either directly or indirectly.' Thomas Friedman made this statement at The Foreign Policy Association's World Leadership Forum in the year 2000. And it's true. The reality of this statement has, for example, resulted in more than 30,000 McDonald's restaurants in 119 countries, serving nearly 50 million customers every day. But how did a quaint restaurant from San Bernardino, California (and many, many others like it) come to have such a global reach' Well, a large part has to do with technology (the Internet, in particular). But the English Language seems to be taking on a central role, in that it's widely being adopted as the 'de facto' language, as a 'Global Language'. Some countries, like Japan for example, are embracing this by requiring English courses to be part of their Elementary/Junior High School curriculum; the Dutch are also embracing English, as they are considering teaching all their higher education in it. A recent estimation states that 1.9 billion people have a basic level of English proficiency. That's nearly a third of the Earth's population, and it's no doubt growing. But what does all this mean' According to Huang Changzhu, the director of the Center for Documentation and Information at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 'it is possible to foresee a time, perhaps 100 years from now, when about half of today´s 6,000 languages will either be dead or dying.' Mr. Changzhu is also of the opinion that, after the death of a language, the culture it arose in (or at least the heart of it) follows. And he is not alone. Vigdis Finnbogadottir, who was once the President of Iceland and now UNESCO's Goodwill Ambassador for Languages, said, 'Everyone loses if one language is lost, because then a nation and culture lose their memory, and so does the complex tapestry from which the world is woven and which makes the world an exciting place.' But naturally there are those who dissent with this view. The general arguments are as follows: under a single, global, language the world would be more peaceful and there would be global prosperity; misunderstandings would be greatly reduced, thus reducing wars as well; we would no longer have to spend any time or money on translation. In fact, Jacques L'vy, who is a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, thinks this is nothing new. 'It was Greek, then Latin, French, now it is English.' This is an interesting point, especially when you focus on Latin, and the fact that after it's downfall the language splintered into prototypes of modern French, Spanish and Italian, a point highlighted by Richard Morrisson in his article titled 'The Englishing of the Earth'. Naturally there are those who disagree with this point, citing the difference in the times as the main reason why there will be different results. But in response to this Mr. Morrisson says, 'The various 'Englishes' you hear on the streets of Glasgow, Delhi, Brisbane, the Bronx, Cape Town and Jamaica strike me as well on their way to becoming mutually incomprehensible languages. The days of the old minority languages may well be numbered, but mankind's genius for devising new patterns of speech, new dialects and, eventually, entirely new languages, is as untameable as the winds or waves.' As this debate thunders on, there is but one certainty, the English language will continue to spread, for better or for worse. But in my humble opinion, we perhaps shouldn't look upon this so bleakly. I'm within Mr. Morrisson's camp, believing that the natural pattern of life will do as it has always done, which is repeat itself, and that the genius of humankind will indeed devise new patterns of speech and dialects, which continue to enrich our cultures, countries, and communities

Quote by Thomas Friedman -

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