English as a Global Language

Topics: Lingua franca, English language, Second language Pages: 6 (1947 words) Published: May 8, 2010
English as a global language
English is spoken in most parts of the world, for instance in Great Britain, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and in many more countries. Moreover in African states English serves as main form of communication. English is, after the Chinese one, the language most people speak and it is the most popular second language and foreign language pupils learn in school. The English language is often named as a “killer language” that wipes out smaller languages and their cultures by exclusive use (f. e.: media, economy). English is not popular because of its linguistic properties but there are conscious, co-ordinated promotion programmes. But if there are so many speaking the same language there remains the question of human’s diversity – concerning biological, cultural and political matters. We also have to take into consideration, that English as a global language is also linked to social costs, because the teaching and accommodation of the languages for immigrant minorities is rather irrational. Language policy in the post-colonial situation:

There are a lot of colonial states with multilingual character because of the imperialist powers in the 19th and 20th century. In Africa, for example, there are no attempts to use any African language in high-status functions, they are not even taught in schools. The period during colonialism changed a lot in the world’s history and following development, and colonialism make us think about cheap rawmaterials and workers the imperialist powers wanted to gain, but we often forget about something else, which an African statesman expresses in his speech: The real aim of colonialism was to control the people’s _wealth...(but) economic and political control can never be complete or effective without mental control. To control a people’s culture is to control their tools of self-definition in relationship to others. For colonialism, this involved two aspects of the same process: the destruction or the deliberate undervaluing of a people’s culture, their art, dances, religions, history, geography, education, orature and literature, and the conscious elevation of the language of the coloniser. The domination of a people’s language by the languages of the colonising nations was crucial to the domination of the mental universe of the colonised. _ Ngugi wa Thiong’o

(extract from his famous essay on "The language of African literature") But there are several arguments for the demand of the adoption of the ex-colonial languages as official ones. First, regarded politically, the choice of any indigenous language would destabilise African states which are multilingual. A second argument would be, that the continue use of the ex-colonial language is rather “practical” because in the end it was accepted by the majority. From having been the language of the oppressor, English, for instance, became the language of national unity and national liberation. There was a sense (economically and technically) in ex-colonial languages, because then they are linked to their “mother country” and the language-infrastructure delivers a pool of skills, like as prorate books, dictionaries, registers, etc. It would be useless to imitate and duplicate in any of African languages. But these arguments were not often used in cultural discussions, because the European languages often affect as superior to the indigenous “vernaculars”. The development seems to be inevitable because with the problem of unemployment, the ability to speak English is very important, but English can’t be blamed for the developments demanding an international lingua franca to facilitate a world wide exchange of knowledge everyone can understand. Killer languages were always introduced by those who were in control of power. The USA with the strongest currency the Dollar, shows that it is not coincidental that English is the leading candidate as a global language. Because of the...
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