English as a Global LanguageExpand
In the last few months that I have been traveling, it has become even more apparent to me how important it is to be able to speak English to interact in the world today.
Many of the people that I have been talking with over the last few months have not been native English speakers. And it became very clear to me that if they had not learned English, I would not be able to communicate with them, they have to learn a second language to be able to broaden their opportunities for travel, work, and general communication with people from other countries. As a native English speaker, you take this for granted. And as a result, many native English speakers only speak the one language.
As a result of the Industrial Revolution, the British economic predominance in the 19th century paved the way for colonialism of large geographical reach that spread the English language in the world. (1)
More importantly, the strong political and military predominance of the U.S. after W.W.II displaced French from the sphere of diplomacy and fixed English as the standard for International communication. (1)
English is spoken as a first language by more than 300million people around the world, and many millions more use it as a second language. One in five people speak English competently and within the next few years that number will exceed the number of native speakers. (2)
Because English is so widely spoken, it is often being referred to as a “Global Language”, the lingua franca (*) of the modern era.
The search for information and need for global communication have already promoted English from being the language of the American, the British, the Irish, the Australian, the New Zealand, the Canadian, the Caribbean and the South African peoples to being the International language. The Latin of the modern world, “spoken in every continent by approximately eight hundred million people” (1)
What centuries of British colonialism and decades of Esperanto (**) couldn’t do, a few years of free trade, MTV, and the internet has. English dominates international business, politics, and culture more than any other language in human history, and new words are melding into English at a frenetic rate. This could have a dramatic effect on the evolution of the language as it is absorbed by new cultures and gaining new forms of grammar and pronunciation.
“English is probably changing faster than any other language”, says Alan Firth, a linguist at the University of Aalborg in Denmark, “because so many people are using it”. (3)
Not everybody is in agreement and a few countries have tried to fight the spread of English as a global language. But with the interest growing stronger, not weaker, some linguists say: Why fight it? Rather English should be embraced.
“It’s a lost cause to try and fight against the tide” said Jacques Le’vy who studies globalism. (4)
It is predictable today that wealth will give way to knowledge and information in determining the shape of the future human society, and speaking the common world language will be fundamental to achieve success. (1)
(*) Lingua franca is a language widely used beyond the population of it’s native speakers.(2)
(**) Esperanto: An artificial language devised in 1887 as an international medium of communication. (2)
English as a Global LanguageExpand
English is on the rise to becoming the first universal language of the world. Is this a positive, or a negative thing? As with most topics, there are two sides. After World War 2, there was a rise in economic influence from the United States, carrying English abroad to other cultures. With that brought a demand of English in many different economies, making English a competitive skill to have. Depending on what field you are in, this could be very helpful.
In the science field, a common language that is more universal is beneficial to fluency throughout the field bringing with it a higher chance of international recognition. In world publishing, as it stands now, English is the dominate language being published and translated to. This makes it easier for English writers to reach a world market. It comparison, non-English writers will have a more difficult time reaching a world audience than a native English writer. English Translations are on the rise as more and more demand for the English language is being created the world over. The domination of English in moves and television is the greatest, even over literature.
Do we loose or gain because of this? Should a great book or poem not be translated just because it was not originally created in English? In a world of 6 billion people that is ever growing, a universal language can be a positive thing. It is important to understand that with an increasing world population, a large aspect of our world needs to be seen as a whole community. There is no denying that whether we want to or not, everybody needs to be able to communicate in some common way. With the ratio of people to land and resources, it makes the need for common communication obvious. We share the planet and depend on each other more and more each day. English should be used to breed understanding and agreement with each other.
That being said, a global language is all well and good as long as it doesn’t overshadow. When somebody says reggae, most people immediately think of Bob Marley. Bob Marley was a great vessel for reggae music and everything that comes with it. It’s not so important that you like reggae, but the exposure is the key. But, can most people name five other Jamaican reggae artists? Probably not. This being the only downside to Bob Marley, the shadow he cast over all other reggae music.
The same goes for a universal language. We don’t want it to cast a shadow. It should be used as a bridge to everything that the world has to offer; other cultures, communities, languages, arts, people, etc. “We might as well pretend that there would be no loss if all musical composers wrote for the cello.” This quote illustrates that point even further. Music could be considered the natural universal language. Music is a wonderful thing. It is created the world over, but it is n to limited to one instrument or singer. Music is a platform for which the many infinite outlets of musical expression can be created. English can been seen and used in the same way. A platform that allows and breeds understanding between countries, communities, people, nature and the arts.
English as a Global LanguageExpand
Since there have been books to study, we have learned of masses of people migrating from one place to another and with them they have brought their, language, values and way of life. It can then be said that people have been spreading their culture around the world for tens of thousands of years. The nineteenth century introduced a wave of immigration, brought on by innovative discoveries in transportation, natural disasters, and economic hardship. The displacement of peoples across the globe in the late 1800s was considered to be the first mass exodus of people leaving their homes in search of something better. During the 1800s, the United States was their destination. This in turn represented the first real instance of globalization. People left everything to come to a new world, yet with them, they were able to bring their language, which is the root of a culture. It is a critical element of who a people are. It defines them.
As technology and economic power has changed in the last hundred years so has our definition of globalization. The demand for the English language as well as the education of it has increased dramatically with the rapid development of economic globalization. It is the language of business, technology, science, popular entertainment, and sports. The response to this demand is for governments to introduce English at a younger and younger age.
For some this homogenization of language is a necessary development. It will render communication faster, cheaper, and easier. For some, the spread of English is a nightmare. It will erase whole cultures and replace diversity with sameness.
Both these ways of thinking have a strong following. One is purely beaurocratic and the other is perfectly idealistic. Whatever way one thinks the end result is still the same. As people once brought their culture into America,
now America is exporting it to every crevice of the world and with it the English language.
Still the majority of the world’s population does not speak English as their first or even second language, yet in a short time everyone will be affected in some way. The fact stands that English is the language of economics. The comprehension of English will bring financial benefits with it all over the globe. Even in places where English is the first language there are people who do not know it and do not speak it properly. Even these native speakers will not be offered the same opportunities as someone who speaks the language well. It comes down to the fact that the language of the country with the most economic influence will control the rest of the world. Hundreds of years ago, French was the language of scholars. We speak of English being the universal language now and in one hundred years, the Chinese language could be making its way across the globe.
Buttigieg, A. Joseph. “Teaching English and Developing a Critical Knowledge of the Global” boundry 2 Vol. 2 No. 26 Duke University press
Nunan, David. “English as a Global Language” Tesol Quarterly, Vol 35, No. 4 Hong Kong University
- English as a Global Language, David Nunan
- Teaching English, Joseph Buttigieg
English as a Global LanguageExpand
I have been witness to many occasions in which groups of non-native speakers of English will converse in English as it is the common language between the two. For example, I was in Venice and over heard German tourists and the Italian waiter conversing in English to understand the menu. Neither the Germans nor the Italian waiter spoke perfect English, but they both knew enough to place the order without either of them reverting to their native tongue.
This is just one example of English as a global language. Other examples include air traffic, politics, technology and science, all of which use English as their primary language. While English is not the most widely spoken language, it is the most commonly taught second language (Wikipedia, p 4). English is also an official language of many countries in which it is not the native language, including India, Malta, Fiji and many others (Wikipedia, p 3). Oddly enough English is not the official language of America, as America does not have an official language.
Is English as a global language the way forward? Many will argue yes, in order to communicate globally that English is the most common language and many industries already use English as a common language. According to Jacques Melitz, English is much more likely to be translated than any other language and therefore, authors writing in the English language will have a greater chance of being translated into another language (p 2). In addition to translation purposes, the use of English in global industries such as travel, marketing, communications and entertainment are primarily in the English language. In order to get a job in any of these industries, English is a required language.
While English as a global language has its advantages of global communication, it also has its downfalls. In the takeover of English, native languages can be lost. Many languages are on their way out due to the dominance of English, such as Gaelic and Native American languages. Some countries, such as Romania have adopted linguistic protection for its national language (The Global English Newsletter 10). The protection requires that all labels and information be sent via the native language as the primary means of communication to ensure that the Romanian language is not lost to English.
If the trend of English as a global language does continue, which English will be taught and which will be acceptable? There are many dialects and accents within the English language that can cause difficulty amongst native English speakers. English is the primary language in more than thirty countries, all with their own accents and variations. In addition to the dialects within the English language, new languages have formed from combining the English language with the native tongue to create a pidgin language. So the argument of English as a global language has developed into a need for universal communication, but also trying to keep the native language as a part of the culture.
While I believe that having a universal language is helpful, it should not be required. I have met many other native English speakers who do not bother with learning another language as it is either not required in school, or not necessary in their daily life. With English as my mother tongue, it may be a bit egotistical to say that knowing the English language is not necessity, but a convenience for most.
English as a Global LanguageExpand
English is fast becoming the dominant means by which the world is able to communicate. It is being referred to as the global language as it is seen as a common means for interaction between different countries. This new phenomena can be seen in a positive light because the use of English as a common language brings efficiency and greater understanding. Growth and development are not tolerant of differences and English becomes a means for international expansion. Nonetheless this also brings with it a development which “gobbles up cultures and traditions”.
In South East Asia, as a result of English becoming a kind of global currency, there is a large turn towards acquiring language skills not in any language but most specifically in English. As the world becomes more “globalised” or as corners of the planet open up for trade relations with other countries and tourism booms, the need for English increases. Hotels, shops and schools have a desperate desire to sell their services and make a living. People’s ability to survive is strongly linked to their ability to communicate in English. Consequently native languages become redundant and even endangered. People focus on learning English over learning other languages and also in many cases need to use their individual languages to a lesser degree. In fact more Asians speak English than anyone else. This movement has numerous negative repercussions. Language is deeply entrenched in individual culture and thus the growing popularity of English and decreasing need for local language directly impacts on traditions. In Laos, for example, Sou spoken in the Southern part of the country has only around a thousand speakers and is said to be in “peril”. Thus with the growth of English there is a loss of culture and tradition.
Essentially language matters as it is more than merely a communication device. Language is not only linked to culture but through the use of literature is able to express a unique experience. In literature the translations of languages into English or vice versa causes a loss of rythmns, sounds, images, allusions and evocations of the original. With the growth of English and globalization, small communities are becoming inundated with English media. This media results in people hearing more English than other languages. There are more English translations than any other languages. Increasingly people are writing in English in order to appeal to a world market and in doing so producing writing which is more western and does not encapsulate the different experiences of story telling which differ so considerably from culture to culture. World literature, because of the increased use of English as a global language becomes English literature
In sum the global nature of English is linked with a loss of individuality. The unique nature of language, culture, tradition and literature can become lost in response to the wave of western English culture and language. Personally I have no idea where this new movement may leave us. It is a great shame that individuality may be lost, as is alluded to in this article, in the strive for a growth and a more convenient world. Nonetheless I do see advantages gathered from the use of English as a dominant medium. I do believe that there is room in all this for a compromise between local culture and language and that the global use of English which does not necessarily mean the loss of one and gain of the other. As an English teacher and a native English speaker it is important to bear in mind these aspects of the global use of English.
English as a Global LanguageExpand
English is considered to be the current international language of our modern world. It is being integrated into the daily lives of non-native English speaking countries across the globe and Japan is no exception. Though the language was never traditionally spoken in Japan, today there is a high demand for all things English. Perhaps this is because, according to JNTO statistics, approximately 21% of all visitors to Japan in 2004 (1,345,000 out of 6,137,000) were native English speakers so the Japanese Government has promoted English to raise tourism revenue, or perhaps it is due to the close ties Japan maintains with the United States or perhaps it is even because English is the current dominant international language in communications, science, business, aviation, diplomacy and entertainment; the point is that many Japanese people, especially in big cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, have a strong desire to learn English.
Because of these factors English has a very strong presence in Japan today. Primarily, most signs, though written in Japanese have English translations. Street signs, area maps, train directions, post offices, banks and other public offices are no exceptions to this phenomenon. Tokyo Metro has even had bilingual ads about train manners on all its trains since 2005 and other railway companies, such as Japan Rail, have followed suit.
Apart from this most Japanese government websites offer bilingual information. The National Tax Agency, Statistics Bureau and Self Defence Force websites, not to mention many prefectural and municipal government websites all have both Japanese and English versions. Private companies are now beginning to follow this trend too
On the media front, movies in Japanese cinemas are usually presented in their original versions with subtitles rather than being dubbed while the national television channel NHK offers many bilingual programs. And in terms of hard copy, most major Japanese newspapers e.g. the Ashai and Yomiuri, offer both Japanese and English (informationhttp://www.japanmediareview.com/japan/wiki/Shimbunwiki/).
With respect to education, English is a compulsory subject in most elementary, junior high and high schools and, as a result, most Japanese people have studied English for at least 6 years. However, today many parents actually start their children’s’ English education from age 5 or 6, sometimes before, at one of the many language schools across the country.
In conclusion, as time has gone by, Japan has moved from being the relatively closed country it was after World War II to being a country open to new languages, new culture and new experiences; and the English language has had a great influence on instigating this change. Apart from the fact that, as aforementioned, we are faced with English in most areas of Japanese modern life from directions and signs, to websites, business, the media and education systems; today, Japan has more private English schools per square meter than anywhere else in the world.
These language schools are places where people go to learn the basic language skills needed to be able to travel to foreign countries, conduct business in international markets and even communicate with their foreign friends in Japan. Thus, the English trend has been set in motion, picking up speed as it gains popularity and strength in all the aforementioned aspects of Japanese life. Though it hasn’t fully reached the outlying, country areas yet, perhaps in time, as media and popular culture spread, English will have a regular place in most Japanese households, or schools across the country.
English as a Global LanguageExpand
The effects of English as a Global Language today are obvious. It is everywhere, in everything, being spoken by everyone. It is truly the world’s lingua franca. Though statistics vary according to their sources, some such as Global Envision claim that “English is now the official or dominant language for two billion people in a least 75 countries.” It is truly amazing no matter the number how many people today speak and desire to learn the language. But where did it come from, how did it evolve, and what people influenced it? This paper will show through a brief history of England, the birth and evolution of English leading to its prominent role as the Global Language of today.
The continuous defeat of one nation has united the world in one common language today, English. That nation was England and its conquerors were many. First the Romans led by Julius Caesar in 55 BC laid claim. With them came their Latin language and roads. Later, Germanic speaking people from northwest Germany (Saxons, Angles and Jutes) invaded eastern England around the 5th century AD. They brought their Frisian language, trade and commerce. And finally, the most feared conquerors of their time, the Vikings, laid waste and claim to the now populous well-working society of England in 1066. They made perhaps the longest lasting additions to English with their infusion of Old Norse.
With each of these conquerors entrance and exit the English language evolved. Wikipedia attributes many words found in the English language such as priest and bishop as adaptations from Latin. However, it was the Norman/Viking conquest of north and east England, including London, that most influenced the English language. Their words influenced and were borrowed more than any other language, directly leading to the birth and transition of England’s language of Middle English. During these 300 years, while Norman French was the language of the court and of official life, it was English that remained the language of the common people.
However, while the England and the English language was at peace for some time, it did not last long as war erupted in 1541 and lasted unabated till the end of World War II. What was once a simple dot on a trader’s map became one of the most feared empires in modern history. For over 400 years, its emerging dominance on every inhabitable continent was unmistakable (the exception being Central America). English was heralded as the world’s lingua franca, the new GLOBAL LANGUAGE.
It all started in 1541 with the Tudor re-conquest of Ireland, which transferred kingly and governing authority from Ireland to England. England’s neighbor to the north, Scotland, soon followed and its “inclusion” was gained through title by James VI in 1603. Soon after, in 1607, England created its first colony, Jamestown. As its territorial/colonial conquests continued unabated, 1707 saw the completion of a united Great Britain as the Acts of Union were signed. Vast and mighty, aided by the British East India Company, Great Britain flourished as did her colonies both past and present (Australia, Canada, and the United States among others gained independence). England’s globalizing effect and dominance helped English emerge as the language of trade/necessity. England reigned supreme for 300 years. However, with the start of World War II, came her destruction. Though she emerged victorious from the ashes, England never regained her premier dominance. But the English language would not share a similar fate as a new English speaking global superpower, the United States, would take England’s place and continue to spread English with increasing fervor.
Today, examples of English dominance as the Global language can be seen. In 1997, the Science Citation Index reported that 95% of its articles were written in English, even though only half of them came from authors in English-speaking countries. According to the British Council, speakers of English as a second language most likely outnumber those who speak it as a first language. And around 750 million people are believed to speak English as a foreign language). English is spoken on every continent of the world, in both the northern and southern hemispheres. It is the language of today. It is the Global Language.
The 1997 Science Citation Index
The Economist (Dec. 20th 2001)
David Lausch, Julia Lausch, and Jason Poynter