english as a Global LanguageFor years the english language has grown to dominate linguistics around the world. It surpassed french as being the leading business language. It is the most frequently used language for international travel. But for how long will english be on top? chinese is certainly well on its way as far as international business is concerned, and spanish is quickly becoming second hand knowledge in the united states
. I’ve drawn on a few articles to illustrate the rise, and possibly the fall, of english as being a global language.
english is the language of the internet, technology, and science. Its dominance is so strong that it doesn’t seem like it will falter anytime soon. More people in world may speak chinese or Hindi and more countries in the world may have spanish as their native language, but english is the language that most people use to communicate across cultures. In fact, english is spoken in some form by three times as many nonnative speakers as native speakers. By the most common estimates, 400 million people speak english as a first language, another 300 million to 500 million as a fluent second language, and perhaps 750 million as a foreign language. The largest english-speaking nation in the world, the united states, has only about 20 percent of the world's english speakers. In Asia alone, an estimated 350 million people speak english, about the same as the combined english-speaking populations of Britain, the united states and Canada. This is an incredible statistic, the idea that english has become so worldly spread that it is now common use in most every part of the globe. Each culture can have their own variance on the english language seeing that there are now more nonnative speakers than native speakers, they could possibly change english as we know it today.
Language researcher David Graddol reports, “As of 1995, english was the second most-common native tongue in the world, trailing only to chinese. By 2050, chinese will continue its predominance, with Hindi-Urdu of India and Arabic climbing past english, and spanish nearly equal to it.” Thus, I’m not sure if english will become extinct, like say Latin, but it may diminish in its importance, and there will be a new need for people to be multilingual. Already that is where most of the world is headed; unfortunately, native english speakers need to be more proactive as they will need to know another language if not two more.
I do believe that english has the potential to reach global language status, if it hasn’t already, before any faltering may occur, but is it necessarily good to have a global language? Sure it helps with uniformity, making business transactions easier, even helping with bureaucratic debates and politics. But who loses out on this emergence? Individual native languages and cultures? Art and literature? Since there technically hasn’t been a global language before, there is nothing to really base precedence on. Latin was really only spoken in the Roman Empire, greek primarily influenced Europe, Sanskrit originated from areas of India and Buddhism, so only time will tell what the future of english will be.
I firmly believe that the teaching of english won’t be decreasing in relevance anytime soon. It’s still one of the most commonly spoken second languages in the world, and teaching it is a huge multimillion dollar industry. It just may have to share the limelight with some other “up and coming” global languages.
Seth Mydans. “Across cultures, english is the word.” www.nytimes.com. 2007 http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/09/world/asia/09iht-englede.1.5198685.html?pagewanted=all
“english won’t dominate as world language.” www.msnbc.com. The Associated Press. 2004 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4387421/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/english-wont-dominate-world-language/#.T6qwgehYu8A