Chapter 1 summary
In why a Global Language, author David Crystal explains what a global language is, how English has become the global language of today, and also why it is important for the world to have a global language. The article begins with David Crystal going explaining how English is the global language today. He explains how English is everywhere, it can be found all around the world, even headlines in other countries are written in English. From here David switches views and shows the reader that not everyone understands English, others all around the world, view English differently. English is not everyone’s first language and some even may feel threatened that because English is growing so quickly, it makes their first language seem powerless. David ends this first section saying that it is natural for people to feel overwhelmed or threatened by English, but as English grows, everyone is able to benefit more from one global language.
In the next section of the text, David Crystal Explains what a global language is. He explains that for a language to be a global language when it has developed a “special role” in other countries. This “special role” basically means that a certain amount of people needs to understand this language. It is because of second languages that the use of a global language has become inevitable. English is becoming the global language today because in over 100 countries English is taught to students as a second language.
The next section talked about by David is “what makes a global language?” He goes on to explain that the number of people who speak the language is important but it isn’t quite as important as how powerful the group of people who speak the language is. He talks about historic Europe and how Latin spread across Europe very fast but not because a lot of people spoke English, but because Latin was used by the Roman Empire who were feared across Europe. As the Roman Empire declined Latin remained the international language because of the influence of Roman Catholicism. He talks about English being an easier language to learn and use because of the grammar. For this reason some people think this is why English is now becoming the global language. This isn’t true. David talks about when Latin and French were the most used languages in history but they were very complicated, especially Latin, and had lots of rules, masculine and feminine and inflectional endings. A language does not become a global language because of its intrinsic structural properties, or the size of the vocabulary or because of it history. It is because of the power of the people that use it. When the Greeks were the most powerful nation in the world, 2000 years ago, The Greek language spread very quickly because of their fierce armies and great leaders. The same is said about Latin, French, Russian or Arabic. All spread quickly when the people who used the language grew more powerful and moved around from country to country more. Of course some languages died out because these nations couldn’t stay strong forever.
It took a powerful army to force people to speak the language of the invaders but it takes something else for the language to remain and become the official language of a country. Economics. As technology became more and more advanced, people were seeing and using the language more. In the 19th century Britain had become one of the most powerful industrial and trading countries and so because of this English was beginning to be used more widely for business purposes. In the 20th century America became a world superpower and the American dollar was used worldwide for transactions and English is the language of the American dollar.
The next section in the book discusses why we need a global language. In this section David talks about the ‘lingua franca’ or common language. He gives the example of Africa....