ENGLISH AS A GLOBAL LANGUAGE

The English language is generally considered as the global language. There are various reasons for the spread of English and its worldwide acceptance. David Crystal in his work titled “English as a Global Language” analyzes the major reasons behind this global status. 

According to David Crystal “ a language achieves a genuinely global status when it develops a special role that is recognized in every country.” This special role is achieved mainly by the use of language in speaking as a mother tongue.As in the case of English in Britain, Canada, U S, Ireland, New zeleand etc. This status is also achieved by other two ways even though it is not used as a mother tongue.Firstly the acceptance of a language as the official language of a country and secondly attaining priority in foreign language teaching even though it has no official status. As in the case of India, the acceptance of English as the official language is an example for this special role. And it can be used as the medium for communication in certain domains such as government, education, law courts, media etc. Other countries like Singapore, Nigeria, Vanuatu and Ghana also accepted English as their official language. It can also be a semi official language by using only in certain domains. The second way for attaining a special role is in the priority in foreign language teaching. The political expediency, desire for commerce, cultural historical contact etc can be considered for choosing foreign language. 

Then arises the question: why do we need a global language? In earlier times translation played a major role in international meetings and conversations. But later it is solved by finding a “lingua- franca” or common language. But there was a geographical limitation for the use of this “lingua – franca” . It can be used only on certain ethnic group of the part of a country as in the case of West Africa. Towards the 1950s various international meetings increased and this led to the need for a single lingua franca. The U N was established in 1945 and other political bodies like UNESCO, UNICEF,WHO established during the second half of the twentieth century. There was a great expense for translation and this strengthened the need for a global language. Apart from these international meetings and travel, with the advancement of technology and the internet people started to communicate to people of various countries simply sitting in their home. This also benefited the growth of the global language. There was a huge development in the second half of the twentieth century in technical, political, social and international domains. The number of countries in the UN increased during this period. So all these are the criteria for the need of a global language.

The use of a global language provides a lot of advantages. This reduces the gap between countries as there is no language or communication barrier. And it forms a strong relationship with nations. Through these relations international trades such as exporting and importing increases and benefits in growth of economy. It also helps in the tourism departments by the communication between people from various countries and natives. Even though there are advantages of having a global language it    has some dangers too. One is Linguistic power. Those who speak a global language as a mother tongue will be automatically in a position of power compared with those who learned this as a second language or official language and this prevents them from carrying out their creative works. Linguistic complacency is the next disadvantage. It happens when a global language threatens to potentially eliminate the motivation for adults to learn other languages. The Linguistic death also happens as a result of a global language. With the emergence of a global language, the disappearance of minority languages occurs and this may cause linguistic death. This mostly occurs when an ethnic community comes to be assimilated within a more dominated society and adopting its language. But nowadays a lot of protests happen for the protection of minority languages and its literature.

English possesses all these qualities to be a global language and it is widely considered as a global language.The cultural and historical factors of English language is the reason behind this. In the history of England we can see that many conquerors came to England and played a significant role in the making of the English language. While other countries invaded neighbouring countries for expanding their power, England being an island began to find new lands and expanded its power. Thus became the biggest empire. This power is the major reason behind the acceptance of English as a global language. They made colonies all over the globe and influenced the culture of these colonies.By the 17th century industrial revolution happened and this paved the way for the spread of the English language. Most of the innovations of the industrial revolution were of English origin. With the advancements in technology , new words have been added to the English lexicon. By the 19th century England also became an economical power. Towards the twentieth century most of the inventions of the society was by England. Pop culture also affected this. This can be the answer to the question of why English is the global language. 

While discussing the future of English as a global language David Crystal says that there are a lot of possibilities for a change in the future of the English language. A significant change in the balance of power can occur and this could affect the standing of other languages. Thus that language becomes more attractive and takes over the position of English. Political factors also make a group of people in a country antagonistic to English. It is evident in the post colonial era. Another factor which may lead to the diminishing of English is the need for expressing the community identity. David Crystal says that the power of English is related to America as it became the dominant element in many of the domains. The US is more involved with international developments and new industrial revolution. Thus the US has more influence in the English language.

So English has played a vital role in many domains all over the globe. Its position and power as the global language is noteworthy. 

Categories: Education