English as the Global Language The seed of a global language was

The seed of a global language was planted several hundred years ago and has since rooted up in the form of English. During the 19th century, British economic predominance, which was a direct result of the Industrial Revolution, paved the way for a colonialism of monumental scope. The rapid rise and infectual spread of the English language began to permeate the globe. Some years later, the strong politicial and military predominance boasted by the United States following World War II paved the way for a substantial economic and cultural reform that displaced French from the sphere of diplomacy and has since fixed English as the standard for global communication. (Shutz)

As of today, English is the dominant language of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Austria, the Republic of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and a number of other countries. It is estimated that 300-400 million people speak English as their first language and that a whopping 1.9 billion people (nearly one- third of the world´s population) have a basic proficiency in English around the globe (Wikipedia). So what does this all mean' Simplistically, it means that English is the most widely used and understood language in the entire world. Dynamically, it means a whole lot more.

In order to fully grasp the topic at hand, one must look at English as a global language from a number of different perspectives. Moreover, one must identify how English and the translation of various foreign languages into English ultimately affects not only the context of material, but also the content. In fields such as business, aviation and scientific and technological research, English as the global language appears to bring efficiency to the global marketplace. In theory, most all commercial and industrial situations require a strict, yet free-flowing cycle of communication in striving to achieve optimal output. English currently can, and for the most part already does, provide this global communication medium. As a matter of fact, nearly four- fifths of the world´s electronic information is currently stored in English, today (Rhode).

Although the use of English as a global language may seem advantageous from the aforementioned scientific and business point- of-view, the entire picture has not yet been painted. A common concern circulating the idea of English as a global language often centers itself on whether or not linguistic diversity will be sacrificed as English becomes more and more dominant across the globe. If English were to dominate world publishing, very few translations, except those from English to other languages would be commercially viable. Consequently, most only those writing in English would have a legitimate chance of reaching a world audience and achieving a ´classic´ status. From here, the outcome is clear. Just as in scientific and business communication, those who wish to reach a world audience through literature will have to write in English. Jacques Melitz, a renowned researcher and economic statistician for the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), comments on the situation by making a parallel, "World literature will be an English literature and will be the poorer for it - as if all music were written only for the cello. We might as well pretend that there would be no loss if all musical composers wrote only for the cello." Melitz goes on to further explain that language is an intracal part of literature, and that its purpose does not serve merely to communicate content, but is in itself an essential source of enjoyment. (Melitz)

The overall benefit of English becoming the global language is still uncertain. One aspect of the debate that is certain is that English is spreading and changing the way the world works. As people adopt English, they immediately adapt it and make it their own (Crystal). Because of this, the language is ever-changing and morphing into the shape different societies see fit. Because of this, the questions of how, and to what extent, English will be used in the future remains unclear. Only time will tell.


Crystal, David. A Chat with David Crystal. University of Whales, Bangor. 2001. .

English Language. Wikipedia. 2006 August 30. .

Kushner, Eva. English as a Global Language: Problems, Dangers, Opportunities. International Council for Philosophy and Humanistic Studies. 2003. .

Melitz, Jacques. English as the Global Language: Good for Business, Bad for Literature. Centre for Economic Policy Research. 2006 August 30. .

Rohde, David. Do You Speak American' Christian Science Monitor. 2003. .

Shutz, Ricardo. English - The International Language. English Made in Brazil. 2005. .