english as a global languageWith its many roots and branches, the english language has an unparalleled presence in today’s world of communication. In the modern era, it has grown to have an influence on countless people’s lives in a way that is unprecedented in human history. While it is debatable whether or not english has the highest number of speakers, it is unquestionable that there is no comparison to be made when considering english’s role in the ongoing development of global economics, business, politics and media. The question now is what sort of path will english take as it evolves within many different cultural contexts? With this in mind, it is worth it to first take a look at the path that english has taken in order to get to its present position of influence.
The life of english began in the west. From there, it first made major moves in all directions by riding the powerful wave of British colonialism. During this period in the history, a saying was born that captures the vastness of great britain
’s successful conquests: “The sun never sets on British soil.” The same can now be said of the english language’s soil. Of course, however, throughout the hundreds of years when economically sound and sea-savvy nations were colonizing any territory they could, english was not the only language being spread. European nations such as France or Portugal, were also successful in taking a hold of positions of power abroad, and were likewise spreading their languages in the process. Nevertheless, after two great world wars in the 20th century and an entry into the post-colonial era, the successes of the U.S. as an economic and political superpower had firmly established english as a language at the heart of global communication. For example, the United Nations and its failed predecessor, the League of Nations, were the first ever global political bodies; and the english speaking Americans were fundamental in creating enough momentum for such bodies to come into existence.
Despite its robust history it is still difficult to predict how english itself might evolve over the coming decades, and whether or not it will always maintain its strong influence as a language. Consider, first, the role of english on the internet. According to some statistics, Americans alone consist of roughly 1/5 of all internet users in the world, more than any other country. Considering also, the increasingly strong bonds between international economics and the internet it is hard to foresee a world where english is not still a dominant factor. Next, consider how the internet is also the medium where english is evolving the fastest. Entirely new terms and concepts have become a part of the english language, because of people’s creative use of english on the internet.
All things considered, it is now necessary to concede the fact that english does not sound the same everywhere. Considering the different accents and lingos that fall under the title ‘english’, it is perhaps more accurate to speak of ‘english languages’. Or, perhaps, we should only speak of written english as a global language. Nonetheless, with such semantics and technicalities set aside, it is plain to see that the english language will continue to change and be changed by people all over the globe, for years to come.