The world according to English If the addition of the ?one-millionth


If the addition of the 'one-millionth word' to the English language is any indication of its ever growing popularity and immense power, then it's safe to say that this language has indeed come a long way from its modest inception to the burgeoning behemoth that it currently manifests itself in worldwide. The research article I chose to write is based on the two hotly contested arguments (for and against) the English becoming the undisputed world wide language. I read the following articles:

(1) http://www.languagemonitor.com/Global_English.html by Neil Reynolds, The Globe and Mail, March 24, 2006

(2) http://www.langedizioni.com/varie/aggiornadid/bettinelli_bc06/globish .ppt#1 power point presentation by Dr. Barbara Bettinelli

to generate the following results:

The world according to English

English is the most widely learned and used language in the world, and as such, some linguists believe that it is no longer the exclusive cultural emblem of 'native English speakers', but rather a language that is absorbing aspects of cultures world wide as it grows in use. Others believe that there are limits to how far English can go in suiting everyone for communication purposes. English is the language most often studied as a foreign language, followed by French, German, and Spanish.

Because English is so widely spoken, it has been referred to as the 'global language'. While English is not an official language in many countries, it is the language most often taught as a second language around the world. It is also, by international treaty, the official language for aircraft/airport communications. Its widespread acceptance as a first or second language is the main indication of its world wide status.

There are numerous arguments for and against English as a global language. On one hand, having a global language aids in communication and in pooling information (as it's done in the scientific community). On the other hand, it leaves out those who, for one reason or another, are not fluent in the 'global language.' It can also marginalize populations whose first language is not English and lead to a cultural domination by the populations who already speak this 'global language', English, as a first language. Most of the arguments in the articles hold for any, not just English, candidate for a global language.

A secondary concern with respect to the spread of English as a 'global language' is the resulting disappearance of 'minority languages', often along with the cultures and religions that are primarily transmitted in those languages. English has been implicated in a number of historical, and even on going, killing of languages. This phenomenon has been referred to as 'language deaths' and 'linguicides' around the world, many of which have also led to the loss of cultural heritage. Language death caused by English has been particularly pronounced in areas such as Australia and North America where speakers of 'indigenous' languages have been displaced or absorbed by speakers of English in the process of colonization.

As with most unavoidable events, these arguments are 'window dressing', at best. Pundits, scholars, politician and the rest of the world leaders can argue endlessly about the virtues of one, unifying language, or the destructive effects of one, unifying language. The fact of the matter is that it is happening. Whether people out there like it or not, it is by all accounts becoming just that, a 'global language'. And as my travels can attest, people everywhere, if given the opportunity, wholeheartedly 'jump' at the chance to learn English.

Maybe it's time that the collective global 'we' stop debating whether we should allow this to happen and accept it this fact and nurture it. After all, if the very nature of all these global disputes, arguments and such can be traced to 'misunderstandings' then maybe a sizeable amount of those 'misunderstanding' can be preemptively eradicated before they even come into play by the use of one, universal language.