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Examining English as a Global Language With the world´s population ever
With the world´s population ever increasing, more and more attention has been shifted upon common languages to be a common binder for the different nationalities. The only truly universal language at the moment is mathematics. The languages of the world are plentiful and diverse, each with its own distinct culture, history, and idiosynchrosies. How is one to determine what could be used at a global level' The language most often spoke of when considering a global language is English. The English language has had quite a ride throughout the past few hundred years in its rise to prominence. According to estimates as little as 425 years ago, approximately four million people were speakers of English. Two hundred years later, this number rose to twelve million. Fifty years later, fifty million speakers... The world is now at the point where the number of English speakers is above five hundred million and if one adds in those learning to speak English the number rapidly approaches approximately two billion. Considering the world´s population hovers somewhere above the 6.5 billion mark, this number represents a huge portion. Many would argue that for the world to progress in certain areas, a unifying language or global language must be selected and embarked upon. What is the benefit of such a choice one might ask' The concept of a global language would provide an overall sense of efficiency in many fields of life. In certain areas, especially science, it is important for all matters to be on a level plane, so to speak, in order to boost efficiency. This is already understood by the scientific world as eighty percent of the its scientific journals are written in English(4). One could also argue very effectively that a global language would improve the efficiency and comfort of everyday life, as language barriers exist and bar progress on multiple levels on a daily basis all over the world. The barriers exist in many shapes and forms, from international business, to everyday life on the street.
Of course some humans are resistant to change, and while it has been stated that a great deal of the world´s population speaks English, there is a far greater number of citizens who do not. The change to English would not be so easy to propose nor readily accepted in certain areas of the world for many reasons: religion, stubborn-ness, lack of tools, etc. Others might be prone to argue that the English language is overally difficult to master compared to others. The English language at last estimate contains close to one million different words, this is a far cry from a relatively more simple language in terms of words such as French, which contains a mere one hundred thousand(5). This is not even taking into account the dialects of English that exist around the world, as American English is different from British English. Other nations such as Scotland, Australia, Ireland, and Canada have their own dialects as well. It may very well be this vastness that works in English´s favor however, as more and more cultures and languages come together in the melting pot that is the United States, more and more international slangs and idioms find their way into use of common American culture. One study reports that of the twenty thousand or so words that entered the English language in the past year, twenty percent of them were of an English/Chinese hybrid known as Chinglish(2).
It is important to mention Chinese in the same breath when speaking of a global language, as Mandarin speakers in the world easily top over one billion, a huge number when considering a common language, more so than English(4). While Mandarin may have the greater numbers, it is English that has deeper roots in modern day culture and business. Other languages such as Arabic and Hindi rival the pure numbers of English as well, but Hindi is too distinctive to the Indian subcontinent, and Arabic dialects vary moreso than Chinese in their diversity. This topic may become moot in the future with the further development of computers as tools. In fact certain scientists say it is only a matter of time before the common language is computers with the advancements made in translation technology(3). That approach, if perfected, would certainly ease the learning barrier when it comes to languages. Some people are lucky enough to speak several languages, but unfortunately many people in the world only know one, and the time and dedication necessary to learn others is not available or not desired. If one were able to perfect a universal translator, or babel fish, society would be able to interact on a completely different level. Until then, however, the most likely and widely accepted candidate for a global language has to be English.
1. English as the Global Language: Good for Business, Bad for Literature (http://www.cepr.org/press/DP2055PR.htm) 2. Global Language Monitor: Many Chinglish into English (http://english.people.com.cn/200602/06/eng20060206_240568.html) 3. The Next Millenium: Now What' (http://www.cnn.com/interactive/specials/9911/future.outlook/content/ language/) 4. Expert: New ´must learn´ language likely to be Mandarin (http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/science/02/27/future.language.ap/) 5. The Global Language Monitor (http://www.languagemonitor.com)