English will eventually become the dominant world language. Discuss. (adapted from a first year student essay)
English has without doubt achieved some kind of global status as many countries adopt the language they consider to be synonymous with economic success and a cosmopolitan culture. However, factors such as the increasing numbers of speakers of other languages, including in English-speaking countries, an increase in bi-lingualism and growing anti-American sentiment in some parts of the world, all indicate that English may not occupy an entirely stable position in the world. This essay explores some of the reasons why English has become so widespread and then argues that global domination of English, despite its current position as a medium of international communication, is unlikely to take place.
According to Crystal, (1987, cited in Pennycook, 1994, p.8) "English is used as an official or semi-official language in over 60 countries…it is the main language of books, newspapers, airports and air traffic control, international business and academic conferences, science, technology, medicine, sports, international competitions, pop music and advertising…". It is the working language of ASEAN, the Asian trade group, and the official language of the European Central Bank, even though none of the member countries has English as its first language (Wallraff 2000, p.3). The extensive economic power of the United States has also influenced many countries to view English as the "key to economic empowerment" (Guardian weekly 2000, p2).
English has also become dominant because it is regarded as cosmopolitan and the way of the future. According to Cohen (2000, p.2), the dominance of American popular culture has influenced many young Europeans who aspire to the "unfettered, dynamic, creative culture of California" rather than the "rigidity" of many European societies. Volkwagon in Germany called their car the "new beetle" rather than the German equivalent...