The English language is a collection of words borrowed from other dialects which include Scandinavian, Latin as well as French (David 25). The turn of the century has seen the language becoming the unofficial language of many countries around the world and is being used in different areas of people’s lives.
Research has come to show that the English language is spoken by about 375 million people all around the world (Raymond 162). It is presently used in media, international business transactions, diplomacy as well as in education.
The spread of the English language around the world was necessitated by the American entrepreneurship and colonization of countries by the British (Graddol & Meinhof 27). The British Empire was among the most powerful in the world and even after the colonies broke off from its rule, they chose to maintain the English language as either their official language or native (Elie 43). The United States as a result of the British colony had taken up English as its official language.
The rise, spread as well as adaptation of the language by most countries around the world was due to the influence the United States had by being a superpower (David 54). The American culture, having permeated most societies has led to students desiring to learn English to have an understanding of the American books, films as well as different songs on the market.
The English language is used for communication by those countries which cannot communicate in any other common available language (Elie 47). It has come to gain global dominance and is found in use in different domains. English is the language of both the internet as well as computers and it is used as a medium of expression (Raymond 167). Since it first came about in the United State, the internet was designed to use the language (David 67).
The educational sector as well as the media has not been left behind in its use of the English language. United States’ influence on the world, in general, has led to schools teaching in English, and very few teachers with their mother-tongues (Raymond 171). Media best communicates in English since it is the most widely used language in the world and a large audience is targeted and reached in the end. Countries can advertise themselves through the media in English and this highly promotes the economic status of countries (Graddol & Meinhof 33).
Despite having many advantages, there are various disadvantages to using English. In the literature world, not much literature can be written in mother-tongue anymore since it is no longer marketable (Elie 51). This has led to native authors not being able to market their literature worldwide. With the increase of training of the language in many educational institutions, rooms are becoming scarce due to a large number of students willing to learn the language (David 84). Their tutors are also less skilled hence cannot effectively teach the language.
Also, since the internet uses the English language and is accessible worldwide, children can gain illegal access to adult sites (Graddol & Meinhof 37). With the introduction of technology of video games, children and young adults become addicted to them. This slows down their mental capabilities due to a lack of creativity since they are not putting their brains into proper use (Ibid 45). Another disadvantage is that non-English speaking countries such as Tanzania and Denmark may have a hard time conducting international transactions (David 111).
Over time, there has arisen a competition between new Englishes and the Standard English generally used in the United States. New English is the English language spoken by countries that do not have the standard English as their primary language, for instance, Hong Kong, Singapore, and India (Raymond 174). Though they have no history of colonization, they recognize the importance of the English language being an international language.
New Englishes adapt other words from either their mother-tongues or other dialects and incorporates them into Standard English (Graddol & Meinhof 51). This makes the former have an advantage over the latter in that the new Englishes are much quicker and easier to learn. New Englishes, as we have seen earlier on, incorporates code-switching, that is the use of more than one language in a conversation as compared to standard English (Raymond 176). It also has its way of the use of grammar to enable individuals to communicate effectively. Unlike Standard English, grammatical hybridization is not present (David 116). New Englishes enable a given group of people to maintain their original identity and possess a sense of belonging.
The English language is and has become an acceptable language because it is not only internationally used but easier to learn. It is also convenient and neutral among nations and does not consider one’s nationality, race, or background (Elie 59).
As time goes by, English will be officiated worldwide and will become a single-unifying official language for the whole world. Despite this fact, some still believe that languages like Latin will take over the English language in the future, just like they did in the 17th century (Elie 60).
The English language has affected societies in different ways and led to the divergence from traditional cultures into the adaptation of western culture.
Over time, English will be the only language in use all over the world, and activities such as business transactions as well as tourism will grow rapidly. This will in turn boost the economic status of many developing and undeveloped countries.
Crystal, David, English as a Global Language, 2nd edition, Cambridge University press, 1997.
David, Crystal, English as a Global Language, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2006.
Graddol, David, Meinhof, Ulrike, (eds), English in a Changing World, AILA, 1999.
Halévy, Élie, A History of the English People in the Nineteenth Century, Trans. E. I. Watkin and D. A. Barker, N.Y.: Barnes & Noble, 1961.
Raymond, G., Gordon, Jr. (ed), Ethnologue: Language of the World, 15th edition, Dallas, Tex: SIL International, 2005.