English as a Global Language Essay

Pages: 9 (2993 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Communication - Language

English as the Global Language

As the world moves towards becoming a global community, communities within the global community will have to address the problem of language communication. This is actually a sensitive issue, because it goes to the heart cultural identity and heredity. Most everyone is proud of their ethnic origins, the country of their birth, and that is evidenced, among other ways, by what has been described as the beautiful rhythm, sounds, and command of language. French has been described as one of the most beautiful languages in the world, but it is English that is fast becoming the communication tool for bridging the gap in global communications. There are arguments against English, but it nonetheless remains the logical choice as the global language.

This brief essay will explore the reasons why English is the best language to bring the global community into a coherent global discussion. English as the global language is a topic that has received vast amounts of attention and scholarship. There is a wealth of information from which to draw in discussing and understanding why it makes the most sense to use English as the global language. The people behind this wealth of existing knowledge are highly qualified and trained linguistics, and many of them have devoted much of their research life to the study of English as a global language. This essay will stand informed by the work and research of these highly qualified linguistic scholars.

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This essay also appreciates the many complexities of learning and acquiring a second language; and there are those who challenge the necessity of a global language, and whether or not English is the best selection to make in choosing a "global language." This essay will explore those ideas and positions, because they are important not just to the discussion of a global language, but the arguments that support those ideas and positions arise out of an arena of scholars who are no less well educated and trained than those who argue for English as the global language.

TOPIC: Essay on English as a Global Language Assignment

Nelson Mandela said, "The ideal of formulating linguistic human rights is indeed a magnificent undertaking and also long overdue (Phillipson, Robert, 2003, 139)." The "magnificent undertaking" has begun, and, agreeably, it is long overdue. This essay participates in the discussion that holds that English is the appropriate selection for the global language.

English as the Global Language Makes Sense

Many people might not realize it, but airline pilots use a common language, because it eliminates the need for training air traffic controllers in the linguistic complexities of foreign languages. The language that is used world-wide by commercial airline pilots is English (Zarowin, Stanley and Harding, Wayne, 2000, 24). There is a reason that the decision was made to make English the common language for air travel communications. English is less complex than many other languages, and it presents less complexity in acquiring it as a language. One reason for that is that Great Britain was once a global force, as was Spain and France. These European superpowers were indeed superpowers long before the United States was even founded. They carried their languages throughout the world as they expanded and acquired vast regions of far away lands, including Africa and the Middle East. As these European powers colonized, they converted the means for communication to their own language. English has long existed as a primary or second language for communicating in a formal way for the many former British colonies (Mair, Christian, 2003, x). One of the best examples of this conversion is the United States. When North America was colonized by English speaking settlers, they did not acquire the many different dialects necessary to communicate with the indigenous tribal peoples of North America. Instead, some settlers learned the language of one or more of indigenous peoples, and taught them English. As the indigenous Native Americans acquired English, it became the primary language that was spoken through the expansion of colonial America, and into the modern times.

Today, the Native Americans speak fluent and flawless English with very little trace of their native language(s). While this is, for some, a source of offense that goes back to being conquered and having suffered near annihilation, many Native Americans have embraced the significance of their symbolism as Native Americans. Acquiring English as a primary means of communication could have ostensibly prevented the American indigenous people from being completely lost to genocide.

The many problems that the global community faces today justify the need for a global language. Problems such as global warming, require that scientists from around the globe come together to form and exchange ideas that will, if not prevent the natural changes occurring in the earth, help people to deal with effects of global warming (Greene, Lindsay, 2000). There is much technology that will have to be developed to deal with critical issues like water levels, shortages of drinking water, manufacture of drinking water, and to address other conditions associated with global warming.

Medicine is another very good reason why the global community needs a global language with which to communicate. Attempting to communicate about critical medical conditions and procedures would result in horrible outcomes if there is a need to understand different languages and dialects of those languages.

When we talk in terms of science and medicine, the information that is disseminated when groups of scientists and physicians come together, and the information that is formulated out of those conferences, must be compiled under a common language in order that the new information that is born when these brilliant individuals come together and work together can be utilized by the rest of the world. This requires a common language, because it becomes almost impossible to continue to print and disseminate the information in the various languages that are used around the globe. When models are created to demonstrate the emergence of new science, it becomes imperative that those models be understood in a universal way (Ulrich, Ammon, 2001, 1).

It is not difficult to imagine the disaster that could unfold if science and medicine did not have a universal language. Business, too, is facilitated by the use of a universal language. There has to be a universal meaning for the important terms that could otherwise result in catastrophic harm, when the goal is solve problems and bring about positive outcomes. Today, with a stock market that impacts the world, it is important here, too, to have a specific language of universal communication.

The support for English as a universal language of communication is not something that goes unchallenged. There are many who find that the logic for English as the global language is flawed.

The Argument against English as the Global Language

Robert Phillipson (2003) says that to establish English or French as the global or universal language, gives the first language speakers unfair advantages (Phillipson, 2). Philipson says that we should all be concerned about what happens when requiring a global language; that the cultural identity of Europe and other old countries could be irretrievably lost to the universal language (Phillipson, 2). Phillipson says that language can unite us, but that it can also divide us (Phillipson, 2). He writes:

Languages can be deployed so as to unite or divide people, to promote or impede communication. Each of us is extremely sensitive to nuances of language that serve as key markers of group identity. The Bible (the Book of Judges, chapter XII) narrates how mispronunciation of the Hebrew 'shibboleth' resulted in the ethnolinguistic cleansing of 42,000 people. A few centuries later, the Greeks distinguished themselves from barbarians, a term (originally from Sanskrit) which brands foreigners as speakers of meaningless sounds, a non-language (Phillipson, 25)."

Here, Phillipson raises a valid argument. Mankind has long had a habit of distinguishing groups as being superior or inferior from one another to the detriment of the weaker group. Phillipson is suggesting that "language" is the new racism. He raises an interesting point, but it is not a strong one. As we look around us, we see that the move is toward a global language, but it also toward eliminating the differences that separate us, and embracing the differences that celebrate the diversity and cultural origins of each of us. We are a world that has come to see the differences between us not as reasons to reject one another, but as reasons to investigate and learn more about one another as neighbors. The celebration of our diversity deserves an expression, and that expression can best be accomplished with a global language.

Karin Dovring (1997) concurs with Phillipson, but considers a global language from a different perspective. She cites a specific case of a Russian student who excelled in learning English (Dovring, 115). When the student moved to America, he found that for all his studies he was not prepared to communicate at the level that he had anticipated, and that his time and efforts in his studies indicated that he should be able… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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