english as a Global LanguageIn the past century, primarily because of the power english speaking countries hold in our world both economically and politically, english has become known as the “Global Language.” Although it is not the language most widely spoken throughout the world as a native language (native english speakers are outnumbered by native speakers of chinese and spanish
), its importance in global trade and business, technology and science, and politics has lead it to become what most would consider the most important and widely used language. Many countries have adapted english as a vital second language, seeing it as a means of economic growth. Adults learn english for advancement in their careers and they enroll their children
in english language schools
or lessons “to help them become citizens of an increasingly intertwined world” (Mydans).
Throughout history our world has always had a need for a common language to some extent. Before the industrial era and the expansion of technology and global communication, many of the world’s great empires, such as the Romans, the Greeks, and the Moors, expanded their territories and therefore their languages. Latin, greek, and Arabic were the common languages used in the empires they expanded; they were the common languages used in intellectual and religious matters, while other regional languages were still used outside of these contexts. After the fall of these great empires and the creation and expansion of new countries and territories, it eventually became necessary to form standardized versions of languages. People needed to be able to communicate with common languages so that “nation [could go] on speaking to nation in peace, war, trade, migration, religion and the world of ideas” (BBC News). With the expansion of the British empires across the globe, english (along with spanish, french, Portuguese and Dutch) became more and more widespread (BBC News). At this early point english was already developing into a global language.
Now, in our modern society, as a result of the ever-growing industry of technology, global communications and media, international business, and the political power of english speaking countries, english has grown into what we could indeed consider today’s global language (Crystal 10). Because of technology and media we now have the ability to communicate with people all over the globe in a matter of moments. People all over the world now see the need to learn and master english in order to communicate with business partners and clients, tourists, and politicians. It has become common for people for who english is not the native language to communicate in english, such as while traveling or in conducting international business transactions. It is not uncommon to even see speakers who share a language other than english to communicate in english in certain circumstances, especially in workplaces where communication with english speaking partners in the “outside world” is necessary (Mydans).
We are in a world that is constantly evolving and linguistic changes are occurring as we speak; the languages of our world will continue to evolve just as they have throughout the history of humanity, ever since the first interactions between cultures and civilizations. Therefore, it is difficult to predict what the future will hold for the english language. It could be true that if english (or another language) were to become a standard world language, “other languages will simply die away,” although this is unlikely to occur any time in the foreseeable future (Crystal 15). Many could argue that the use of english as a common, global language and the effects of globalization are detrimental to the preservation of local culture and languages; however, it is important to remember that such changes occur naturally in a globalizing world. With enough effort it is possible to preserve culture and language for future generations; a balance between the need to learn english, our current global language, and the maintenance of other languages can be achieved.