English as a Global Tongue

Topics: English language, Lingua franca, German language Pages: 5 (1451 words) Published: June 10, 2011
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English as a Global Tongue
English is spoken by more people than any other language in the world, thus it is considered a world language. Today English seems to evolve to a future global tongue, as its spreading on the Internet in recent years shows (almost 80% of the world-wide-web s pages are now written in English). In this context the English language is accused of being a killer language that wipes out smaller languages as well as the cultures they represent. Scientific researches have found out that in fact many small languages have already vanished. However, English fitted in a slot that could have been filled by any other language as well. It can neither be blamed for developments demanding an international lingua franca nor for the consequences a homogenisation of communication has. The immense progress in fields of science and technology has created the need to facilitate the world wide exchange of knowledge. Thus the latest industrial development demands an international language which everyone is able to understand. Because of its predominance in the industrial world it seems convenient that English will become this world language. But, if everyone speaks the same language, will people still be able to keep their regional identities? As long as different cultures manage to keep their own language for internal communication there is nothing to worry about a global tongue. In Europe globalisation rather turned into a chance for the diversity of different regions. For example Scotland and Wales will become more independent from the British government. If people are interested in their regional culture an additional lingua franca for a homogenised official communication will not threaten their language. However, killer languages play a role in suburban societies. Members of small linguistic groups change to a language of a higher rank in hierarchy in advantage of flexibility. For example a worker will find a job much easier if he or she applies in a wider area than just his or her local region. R.M.W. Dixon, who delved into the "Language loss in Australian Aboriginal languages", has found out that parents even force their children to speak English at home and avoid code-switching to their indigenous vernacular to provide better chances for their future life. But a language which is no longer spoken has lost its intrinsic function. So by trying to survive in our capitalistic system of competition the actual victims are forced to support the process which debases their own culture. Scientific researches like Dixon's essay show that there are definitely killer languages at work. But is the English language guilty of having driven away so many languages? According to Brenzinger (1991, p.40), most of all dying languages are replaced by other regional languages with a higher rank in the hierarchy of languages rather than by a world language. In those few cases where languages are replaced by English there is...
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