ENGLISH AS A GLOBAL LANGUAGE

What different factors lie behind English’s current status as a global language?

Nowadays, English is the most widely used language across the world. Today, people from different nationalities use English in almost every step of their life during communication. English is used in global commerce, international diplomacy, air traffic control, the majority of academic writings, the internet, and tourism. That is, English is considered as a Lingua Franca by many people and official governments. But why English is the most used language instead of any other languages? There are many languages in the world. Some of them are more popular when compared to others, languages like French, Spanish, Chinese, or Arabic. However, only English is acceptable in the whole world in terms of both official and unofficial ways. From my point of view, there are three main factors lying behind this as colonialism of the British Empire, the powerful status of the United States of America after two World Wars, and technological developments mostly arose in English spoken countries.

Firstly, in my opinion, a long time ago there was not a Lingua Franca because there was not this much communication in the world. The world was smaller, consisting of Europe, Africa, South Asia, and The Far East according to the knowledge of humankind. Besides, there was no internet nor technology back then. Travelling was limited as transportation was not developed, so people could not move much. That is why back in the old times, people did not communicate as much as they do in today’s world. However, with geographical explorations, people learned that there were many other lands in the world such as North America, South America, and Australia. That is when the British Empire, along with some other empires, started to colonialism. It paves the way for them to spread their languages. My personal view is that the lands British Empire owned were larger and more populated. Over time, in these lands, countries were established and since the establisher community of these countries were English speakers, the official languages became English. As it was used in official matters, people living in these countries started to learn and speak English in their daily communication as well. Now, these countries are the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa. All of them consider English as their official language in their laws. Since they are overpopulated, and powerful in terms of relations with other countries, the number of English speakers has increased over time.

The opening to the Old English epic poem Beowulfhandwritten in half-uncial scriptHƿæt ƿē Gārde/na ingēar dagum þēod cyninga / þrym ge frunon… “Listen! We of the Spear-Danes from days of yore have heard of the glory of the folk-kings…”

Secondly, two World Wars happened in the twentieth century. They were originally started among European countries, but over time they spread all around the world. In both World Wars, the USA was the most important key. They were more powerful than other countries in terms of war technology and military power. They remained neutral at the beginning of both wars, but they were the one that finished the wars. In both wars, they fought together with the British Empire and its allies. After the USA and British Alliance won the wars, the USA invaded some opposite side countries in pursuit of the spoil of war and subjugation. They increased their status in many different countries both as political and social ways. With their contributions to these countries after the war, they made many alterations. They changed some of the countries’ regimes and the education system. They switched the discipline of second language acquisition to the English. It was at this time English became known more across the world. They claimed to have left those countries afterward but from what I know, they kept their status in those countries. That is, the English language stayed as well. Still, the USA has many impacts on different countries. In my opinion, English will protect its status as a global language for more time in the future with the help of the USA.

Thirdly, Since the beginning of the twentieth century, technology has been developing. In today’s world, there are many devices that did not exist a hundred years ago. Much of these improvements in technology have been developed in the English spoken countries such as the USA, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. Other countries have impacts as well but most advancements became real in the USA. After World Wars, the USA started to mess with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in a competition about being the superpower. We know this period of time as the Cold War, and it continued until the collapse of the USSR. This Cold War period caused these two nations to invest in new technologies. I doubt that these investments were the main objective, but they became the most important advancements of humankind as they led to the invention of the internet, the telephone, the computer, space studies, and many more. Since much of these developments were invented in the USA, they spread to the world in English. In my opinion, the first people to benefit from these advancements had to know English. That is, the demand for learning English has increased in time due to these advancements. For example, when I was a little boy, I was playing computer games that are in English. My interest in English started back then due to these games. Moreover, the music industry has also contributed to the spreading of the English Language. People who listen to songs which are in the English language started to show interest in learning the language in order to understand the lyrics and the meaning of the music. These kinds of technological developments arose mostly from English spoken countries, causing English to become a more global language.

When the fast-food chain first opened in Russia on January 31, 1990, it was hailed as a sign of thawing Cold War relations and crowds of Muscovites flocked to taste their first Big Mac. By RFE/RL.

Finally, as far as I know, English becomes more and more global every day. Its journey begun with the colonialism movements of the British Empire once continued with the two world wars, and now it is spreading with the help of advanced technology. In history, it spread with wars and migrations, now it spreads because of the eagerness of societies to acquire a second language and communicate with foreign people. The English language gained its power and prevalence from mostly bad events such as colonialism, World Wars, and the Cold War, but these bad events contributed the world to become a better place later. Well, will English continue to be the global language forever? France was once the global language as well but it was replaced with English. There are languages that may rival English in the future such as Esperanto in terms of convenience and Mandarin in terms of prevalence. However, as they are limited and not easy to access, English will keep its current position in the near future as well. In my opinion, it is better for everyone to learn English as it is the global language of our time.

References:

Essays, UK. (November 2018). Why Is English Considered a Global Language?. Retrieved from  https://www.ukessays.com/essays/linguistics/why-is-english-considered-a-global.php?vref=1

https://www.speakenglishcenter.com/english-5-reasons-why-is-english-the-global-language-of-today/?lang=en

https://blog.esl-languages.com/blog/learn-languages/english-language-global-number-one/

Doğukan Sadi Akçakaya
Hacettepe University , Department of English Language Teaching.
Posts created 1

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