English as a Global Language

It is undeniable that English is beginning to become a global language in most parts of the world by and large. It is spoken frequently especially in developed countries for instance The United States of America and The Republic of China. This is an inescapable process of globalisation. However, according to many experts in linguistics, English is dominating today’s modern world and thus, disregard mostly minority languages. Therefore, it is essential to consider both arguments including the history of how English gradually become dominant up to the present time, its’ significance for the international community and how the number of world population affects the widespread of English along with the negative impact of its’ dominance on minority languages of which linguists are aware of. The key to English globalisation and extension up to the current is basically due to the three eras which English had undergone in the past. According to Svartvik and Leech(2006): English benefited from three overlapping eras of world history.

The first era was the imperial expansion of European powers which spread the use of English as well as of other languages, like Spanish, French and Portuguese around the world. The second is the era of technological revolution, beginning with the industrial revolution in which the English-speaking nations of Britain and United States took a leading part, and the later electronic revolution, led above all by the USA. The third is the era of globalization. (p.227)

The mentioned three eras are pertinent to one another, for example the second era namely the electronic revolution has introduced the Internet technology including e-mail, e-commerce, e-business and other e-activities which supports the third era, the globalisation era likely to take place (Svartvik and Leech, 2006). Further development of the globalisation era leads to the commonness of English in several fields such as science, technology and world trade. Scientists conduct their research in English. In addition, English is the base language of computers especially languages for programming.

Roger E. Axtell reported that 80 per cent of world’s computerised stored data is in English (Axtell, 1995). English is widespread outside countries where it is the first language and thus, universal. Moreover, In International trade, firms which are global, must have their own divisions for each country if the firms are planning to extend their business worldwide, and definitely there will be a representative for each of those countries of which the firms are interested in. Each of them may not have English as their first language, therefore in order to communicate effectively with one another, they have to have one interlanguage or lingua franca which everyone speaks and is comfortable with, namely English. For instance, Nissan, Volkswagen and other car manufacturing companies must have adopted English as their lingua franca.

Svartvik and Leech (2006) have come to the decision that “In all these respects, economic globalization increases reliance on an international language, with English as the leading contender” (p.229). The number of population of non-native speakers and native speakers has to be taken into account as well. It is proposed that the ratio between first language speakers and second language speakers of English is reversed as initially the ratio of native speakers surpassed that of second language speakers (Graddol, 1995).

It has also been reported that there are 329 million of native speakers and 431 million for non-native speakers, this number is not including the number of speakers learning English (Crystal, (a), 2003). At first sight, it might seem plausible to argue that English plays an important role, however, on closer inspection, not everyone believes the dominance of English delivers positive impacts especially linguists, the people who are active in terms of literature and linguistics studies.

Anderman and Rogers (2005) suggest that” the linguistic has changed dramatically and it is likely to change even further during the years” (p.20). It is mainly because of the excessive dominance of English, linguists can hardly write their pieces work of art in English as masterly as they can write using their first languages. Some of these authors might have the point of view that a language does not serve merely for communicative purposes but pleasure and enjoyment as well. That way, they can pour their talent and creativity into their masterpieces.

Additionally, in order for their works of art to be attractive to the world audience, they have to write in English. According to several estimations, in a hundred years’ time, approximately half of 6500 languages in the world will hardly exist within a period of time which alternatively means, somewhere in the world loses a language in every 2 weeks on the average (Crystal, (b), 2003). In summary, after assessing arguments of both sides, although linguistics pieces of art should be respected in order to maintain the existence of linguistics and literatures, English truly benefits from its’ history itself and keeps on advancing afterwards. Consequently, it appears that the international community including linguists has to accept the fact that English has become the global tool of communication inevitably and opt for English as the international language.

References Anderman, G. And Rogers, M. (Eds.). (2005). In and Out of English: for better, for worse. Buffalo:Multilingual Matters, 2005. Axtell, R.E. (Ed.). (1995). Do’s and taboos of using English around the world. New York: Wiley Crystal, D. (a). (2003). English as a Global Language, 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Crystal, D. (b). (2003). The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language, 2nd edn. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press. Graddol, D. (1999) The Decline of the Native Speaker. In D. Graddol and U. Meinhof(Eds.).(1999). English In a Changing World. Great Britain: English Company Svartvik, J. And Leech, G. (Eds.).(2006). English One Tongue, Many Voices. Great Britain: Palgrave Macmillan.