LANGUAGES ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB



As the Internet and the World Wide Web continue to grow and increase in popularity, the need for a global language becomes more prevalent. The WWW is a global communication system, but for that to be truly possible, there needs to be some common way of communicating. "For the electronic media that bind the world together are essentially carriers of language...The English language is now the operating standard for global communication." (Economist) As seen on the previous page, English has emerged as a global language for many reasons. It may not be the best choice, but the ball has begun to roll. English is a very difficult language to learn, even for its native speakers. But the World Wide Web has already picked up the use of English.

It is not surprising that English is the main language used on the Internet and the World Wide Web. The internet was born in the US as a Pentagon research and development network, and only recently was opened up to public use. The Internet and the WWW obviously got their roots in the US. Therefore, it is not surprising that about 80 percent of all electronic information stored in computers and transferred via internet is in English. (Guardian, Rohde, Economist, Walker) This figure goes hand in hand with the fact that approximately 65 percent of Internet host computers are in the US. Second is German with only five percent. (Kalin, Nundy) These numbers show that there is a distinct inequality in the use of languages, English being the most popular. In more than 100 countries, people in chat rooms discuss topics and communicate in English. (Rohde)

People all over the world are trying to learn English so that they may compete globally. This is especially true of international businesses. There are many big international corporations, such as Mastercard, Visa, Kodak, Sony, and Coca-Cola, that you would expect to have a choice of what language in which to view their sites. But these examples do not have an international home page. If they do offer an alternative language, the choice usually appears three or four pages into the presentation. McDonalds is an example of an international site that offers more than the English language. They offer a McDonalds Japan page right from their main home page. But they do have restaurants in other countries, so they should offer pages in other languages as well. This would not put those who do not speak English at a disadvantage. It would make using the Internet and the WWW a little more fair for everyone. This inequality in language usage also builds walls within cultures, those who can and those who can not use the Internet. That wall is built by those who can and those who can not speak and write English. It is becoming more and more prevalent that "English is necessary for living on the Internet." (Korpela) This is only one view, however. It is also possible to make the Internet and the WWW a little more accessible for everyone. Others believe that "the addition of other languages to the Internet will enable it to truly become a global network." (Mandel) There are many alternatives to making the WWW a little more global and World Wide.



Please continue on to the next page, Alternatives to get a better idea of what those alternatives are.





The Global Language

Alternatives

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Works Cited