ENGLISH AS THE GLOBAL LANGUAGE



As global communication expands throughout the world, so does the need for a global language. A language that is recognized and understood by people everywhere. In many parts of the world that language has been established, English. In most countries around the globe the English language can be found in some form or another, whether it be an international news broadcast, such as CNN, or a Chicago Bulls tee-shirt. "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." (Rohde) For this world to be truly global, there must be some commonality or ease of communication. "If trade and tourism around the world are going to operate and a global economy function and a global culture flourish, a widely shared, reasonably accessible language is requisite." (Stevenson)

"A global economic and political structure needs a common tongue." (Stevenson) Everyone has their own reasons for the rise of English as the global language. However, there are some common traits between them. Here are just a few samples of what people are saying: "Experts attribute the worldwide spread of English to British colonialism and American culture, rather than to the inherent qualities of the language...English is dominating the globe today because, when the sun finally set on the British Empire at the end of World War II, the United States emerged as a global superpower and cultural giant, leading the way in medical research, technological innovation, motion pictures and rock ‘n’ roll." (Rezendes) "In the 17th and 18th centuries, English was the language of the leading colonial nation - Britain. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was the language of the leader of the industrial revolution - also Britain. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was the language of the leading economic power - the US." (Guardian) "Experts say the simultaneous rise of the US as a military and technological superpower and the receding of the British empire gave many in the world both the desire and option to choose American English." (Campbell) As you can see, there are many reasons associated with the rise of English as a global language. Most people agree that it has something to do with the emergence of the United States as a world superpower. The US has worked hard to reach the level of achievement and cultural clout that it has today, but in no way wishes to wipe out all other world cultures. The important thing to remember is: "A language becomes an international language for one chief reason: the political power of its people - especially their military power." (Guardian)

It is estimated that "the number of native English speakers is 300 million to 450 million." (Stevenson) More than one billion people are believed to speak some form of English. (Rohde, Campbell, Guardian, Economist, Rezendes) Although the numbers vary, it is widely accepted that hundreds of millions of people around the world speak English, whether as a native, second or a foreign language. English, in some form, has become the native or unofficial language of a majority of the countries around the world today. "In 20 to 30 countries around the world, English is merging with native languages to create hybrid Englishes." (Rohde)

It is widely believed that "English is truly the world language." (Stevenson) English seems to be emerging, if it has not already arrived, as a global language. If this were to become official it would reduce the number of mis-translations. It would make communication across cultures much easier. Language may be a cornerstone of culture, but the culture itself would not have to disappear if English were used as a second or third language for the pure purpose of communicating globally. "English is the only language used in international air traffic control and is virtually the only language of a whole range of other activities from scientific research to pop music." (Stevenson) English may not be the best choice, but it is the obvious choice, for an international language. Whether we like it or not, the English language is becoming the global language.

Please continue on to Page 2 to find out how English is used on the World Wide Web.





Languages on the WWW

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