English as a Global Language Languages Provide Essay

  • Length: 6 pages
  • Sources: 6
  • Subject: Communication - Language
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #70592519

Excerpt from Essay :

English as a Global Language

Languages provide the ease of communication that either make them highly rich or leave them severely deprived of depth. The success and popularity of a language is dependent on many factors including the ease with which it can be acquired and the richness which allows for better comprehension. Some of the world languages that are quickly losing their power and are at the brink of extinction are not the ones less spoken but the ones who cannot find new speakers of the language because it is difficult to acquire and doesn't have enough depth of vocabulary. English and Arabic are examples of languages which are very easily understood, easily acquired and are immensely rich borrowing from various languages and offering a wide choice of words for complete expression. For this reason they are global languages and English is certainly a global language which has a very bright future. It is nowhere near extinction even though Spanish is quickly taking over English in popularity still it is a long way before any other language can take over as first language of the world. English is the official language for the world and it is likely to stay that way for a very long time because English is not losing the number of speakers. It is instead gaining more each day and with smaller countries becoming more globalized, they are quickly learning English to be able to communicate with the world and English thus can easily stay at the top for a long time to come. Even those who are eager to learn other languages including Spanish do not give up English because they understand that this is the only language that is understood in most parts of the world and can be used to communicate with everyone around the world. Spanish or Arabic still hasn't acquired that status of popularity or superiority.

What is a global language? This question is important if we want to support our position on the subject of English as the global language. A global language is not the one that is spoken as mother tongue by most number of countries. Had that been the case, Spanish would have topped English because it is spoken in more than twenty countries as mother tongue while English doesn't have the same privilege. What makes a language global is the desire on part of most countries to adopt English as part of their regular communication in one way or another. These countries would make English the official language of communication, teach English in schools to make their next generations more proficient in the language and preferred over some other second languages.

English is therefore certainly a global language because it is now the official language in more than 70 countries around the world as Crystal (1997) reveals, "The role of an official language is today best illustrated by English, which now has some kind of special status in over seventy countries, such as Ghana, Nigeria, India, Singapore and Vanuatu. This is far more than the status achieved by any other language -- though French, German, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic are among those which have also developed a considerable official use. New political decisions on the matter continue to be made: for example, Rwanda gave English official status in 1996." (p. 4-5)

With other languages taking over as official language in some parts of the world, some would wonder if English's survival is threatened. But that is hardly the case. Instead it's just the opposite for now. English is gaining popularity around the world; it's rapidly being acquired by record number of people each day -- thanks to the Internet which has one dominant language and i.e. English. Even though Chinese prefer to communicate over the Internet in their own language, they can only do so with people who understand Chinese and are hence restricted in communication. Those who are doing business with people from other countries are forced to use English as the main language of communication and are hence becoming more proficient in the language in order to be able to spread their business network. Similarly social networking sites have also added to the popularity of the language. With twitter and Facebook using English as the main language of communication, the people who are increasingly interested in making new friends, establishing new business contacts and basically being part of the network are learning English or trying hard to improve their command of the language in order to get their desired objectives.

Even though English is easier than many other languages in acquisition, it is not the grammar or stricture of the language that adds to its popularity. When we say that it provides ease, we are talking about the fact that it allows better communication because of the richness of language and the ease with which it can be learned. But popularity is not entirely dependent on form and structure though some have argued that English has been popular primarily because of its form and structure and the fact that we do not have to remember the grammatical differences for masculine and feminine. One author in 1848 wrote in the British periodical The Athenaeum,

In its easiness of grammatical construction, in its paucity of inection, in its almost total disregard of the distinctions of gender excepting those of nature, in the simplicity and precision of its terminations and auxiliary verbs, not less than in the majesty, vigor and copiousness of its expression, our mother-tongue seems well adapted by organization to become the language of the world. (Crystal, p. 7)

But that is definitely not the most important or dominant reason. David Crystal argues that other languages including French and Latin wouldn't have become such popular languages had it been the form and structure alone that make a language popular. English's popularity is also heavily dependent on history of the countries acquiring the language. For example in India, English is the official language and is considered a language of privilege which is spoken by middle and upper class regularly even more than the local languages. The reason is grounded in the history of India as one of the colonies of Britain. With so many countries under British imperialistic rule till the mid of 20th century, it is no surprise that the colonies have made English the official language or the language of preference even after the rule ended. More countries are now coming up with English publications than ever before. The popularity of English as the global language is now a major phenomenon as Kachru (1985) examines:

My position is that the diffusion of English, its acculturation, its international functional range, and the diverse forms of literary activity it is accommodating are historically unprecedented. I do not think that linguists, pedagogues, language planners -- and, if I might include the purists here -- have ever faced this type of linguistic challenge before. I do not believe that the traditional notions of codification, standardization, models, and methods apply to English any more. The dichotomy of its native and non-native users seems to have become irrelevant.

Kachru raises a good point in connection with dichotomy; it is true that English has rapidly lost the distinction between native and non-native speakers because for some reason, the language embraces everyone the same way thus minimizing the distinction between those who were born speaking the language and those who acquired it later in life. This distinction is also due to the fact that English can be easily played with. It is one language that alone modification both by native and non-native speakers thus everyone can embrace the language as its own thus making minimizing the hostility towards a new language that generally comes when it seems to be threatening the…

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