In today’s society, the role that communication plays in all facets of life cannot be overstated. Man’s ability to interact and plan for the present and future is purely based on the basic fundamentals of communication (Crystal, 2003). As such, communication in whatever capacity is the key determinant to the success or failure of any proposed venture or activity (Crystal, 2003).
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Man’s desire for knowledge and success has over the years expanded beyond the restrictions of localities and regional boundaries (Short, 2001). This has come to be known as globalization. English as a language has been instrumental in facilitating globalized interactions between diverse nations.
The use of English as a universal language has been phenomenal. In this research, aspects of the English language as regarding to appropriateness and global acceptance shall be analyzed. The new varieties of “Englishes” that have been adopted in diverse settings shall also be addressed. The reasons behind the world-wide spread of English shall be discussed through the analysis of various socioeconomic, religious and technical aspects whose success is greatly attributed to English as the dialect of mass communication.
Ghosh (2009) states that different settings (communities) vary in level of English proficiency, how they use the language and the differences in the language as compared to the original dialect. As such, the author asserts that these factors pose serious challenges to businesses, language and communication experts.
Arguably, the new versions of English should not be classified as deviances since they are as legitimate as the original version of the dialect. To this effect, the underlying reasons as to why English has been preferred as the Universal language shall be examined and the mutual intelligibility of the different versions analyzed.
Brief overview of English History
The spread of the English language can trace its roots back to the 5th century AD when three tribes from Germany namely: Angles, Saxon and Jutes, attacked Britain. During that period of time, Celtic was the major language spoken by the British. The war rendered most of the British community homeless and most of the survivors had to relocate to safer grounds.
The new occupants of their lands have been rumored to be the first people to acknowledge the use of English as a common communication link between different cultures and tribes (Crystal, 2003). What the author means is that English was conceived during the 5th century AD under the aforementioned circumstances.
Ghosh (2009) reiterates that the English language developed through four major stages. The Old English took precedence and was in use between 450-1100 AD. The development of this language at this time has been credited to the Germans whose use of a common dialect influenced the British to take up the same trend. According to Short (2001), a new variation of English known as the Middle English came into being after the Normans attack and conquer of Britain between 1100 to 1500 AD.
The Normans were of French descent and naturally spoke French as their first language. However, French was slowly overruled by the then existing English language in the 14th century. However, the French language had a major impact on how English was spoken during that time. Short reiterates that the Middle English was characterized as having many French syllables within the original dialect (English).
Early Modern English arose in 1500-1800 where there was a distinctive difference of pronunciation. This variation of English as explained by Crystal (2003) had shorter words and fewer vowels. The emergence of this English can be attributed to the fact that the British came into contact with various people.
From these interactions, they were able to pick up on different languages and cultures which influenced the way the British spoke their English. The printing of historic journals and diaries for preservation purposes further necessitated the need for a common language. English was therefore the logical choice since it already had started to spread across the regions. As such, deliberations on how to standardize the language and make it the official language for reading and writing ensued.
The result of these deliberations came up with the Late Modern English which has been in existence from the 1800s to date. However, this form of English varies slightly from the early modern English because of new vocabulary. This can be attributed to fact that each region where English was adopted influenced the way the people spoke it. This led to the birth of new “Englishes” which are in use today (Crystal, 2003).
Convergence to English: Why English?
English became the global language because it aided in solving tensions and facilitated communication and understanding between different countries and communities (Ghosh, 2009). The colonial era was characterized by a high rate of exploratory expeditions into “new worlds” by the colonialists.
As such, the explorer would exchange ideas and were thirsty of learning the cultures of the local communities that they visited. However, this was not an easy task considering that there was no defined language that could be used to interact with the locals (Short, 2001).
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To this effect, communication was greatly hampered and conflict between the locals and the explorers was often unavoidable. As such, the explorers could teach a few locals English so that they could relay their interests as translators in areas where English was not established as a common language (Crystal, 2003). On noting the positive effects that came from having one common language, English was encouraged for ‘lingua franca’ all around the world (Ghosh, 2009).
In economical terms, English was and still plays a vital role in time of trade between countries and communities. According to Natalia (2010), globalization refers to the political, social and economic systems of interactions held between different countries in a bid to create a global community.
Man’s desire for knowledge and success has over the years expanded beyond the restrictions of localities and regional boundaries (Short, 2001). As such, business mergers and other agreements have been made between countries in search of a larger market base, resources and human capital. The occurrences of such interactions have over the years brought the human race closer to each other than ever before despite their varied differences in cultures, goals and objectives.
Consequently, the advantages realized from globalization in terms of social and economic wellness have been great to say the least. However, globalization would loose its meaning if there are no common grounds through which the needs for each participant can be addressed. As mentioned earlier, communication is the key to succeeding. As such, the role that English has played in facilitating economic and social interactions in a diverse world cannot be understated.
Crystal (2003), states that the language of a people is mostly a representation of how the respective people view their world and interpret their experiences. The structure of a people’s language can therefore be used to make inferences about their unique ways of life therefore providing a means by which we can reconstruct the life of a civilization.
There are many international organizations that have risen and advocated for one common language as a means of communication. Organizations such as World Health Program, UNESCO, World Bank, Common Wealth, European Union and many others, which have a significant influence on political, social and economical affairs globally, have attested to the fact that English is instrumental to global development.
English has not only facilitated ease in communication among countries and communities, but has also been hailed as a language through which diverse people can access valuable opportunities and empower themselves (Natalia, 2010). In short, English provides an avenue through which equality can be achieved.
Technical and educational benefits
Education has always been an important aspect in the world’s continuous development cycle. Using a common language to standardize various aspects in the educational sector has greatly impacted global development. For example, the internet is widely used as an educational resource whereby students can gather valuable information to aid in their research works.
However, if there was no common language, most of the technological advancements that we enjoy today would not be there. Crystal (2003) asserts that English has played a pivotal role in the field of sciences because it establishes the standards of communication understandable by iconic figures in this area.
In regards to religion, English has helped many people across the world establish their religious grounds. Before the inception of English as a common language, individuals were restricted only to the cultural and religious beliefs of their people (Short, 2001).
However, today, one can joint and practice any form of religion practiced all over the world because the religious teachings can easily be translated into English. As such, English has presented people with an opportunity to interact and learn about each other as well as the cultural and religious beliefs of different communities.
Threats to English as a global language
The benefits of English as a global language far outweigh the risks. However, opponents to this lingual dominance assert that in time, English will lead to cultural erosion. Crystal (2003) claims that upcoming generations adapt to the trends that they find and this has led to a situation where vernacular is loosing its relevance to community as well as its power to preserve culture.
The author states that in as much as the spread of English cannot be controlled, measures should be put in place so as to provide alternative means of communication to all. Technology is therefore one of the solution offered. However, it posses a serious threat to English and as Crystal (2003) explains, new software used for translation may in the long run render English useless. This is because; people will be able to translate information from one language to another without using English.
This paper set out to investigate the impacts of English from a global perspective. The history of the language has been provided and the rationale behind its globalization offered. It has been seen that the adoption of a global language in the world will yield to higher productivity which will subsequently result in the attainment of global goals of increased productivity.
It can therefore be authoritatively stated that the use of English as a global language is imperative for the increased productivity and indeed the future survival and peaceful coexistence of the human race because it gives people a means through which they can effectively empower themselves and maximize on the opportunities availed to them on a global scale.
Crystal, D. (2003). English as a global language. NY: Cambridge University Press.
Ghosh, M. K. (2009). English as a Global Language. USA: Authorspress.
Natalia, F. (2010). How to Become a Global Language. Canada: Concordia University.
Short, J. R. (2001). Global dimensions: space, place and the contemporary world. USA: Reaktion Books.