Great Career Opportunities

Dangers of a Global Language

Negative aspects of English as a Global Language

Even though there are many positive aspects of having a global language, there are negative aspects as well. How would it be possible to carry through a global language? Are there any dangers with having a global language?

A global language might cultivate an elite class with native speakers, who take advantage of the possibility to think and work quickly in their mother-tongue. If this was the case they might manipulate it to their advantage at the expense of those who has another language as their mother-tongue and in this way create a linguistic gap between people.

English has a history, sometimes cruel and violent with colonialism and war, and introducing English as the global language might be seen as a threat of future dominance. Perhaps a global language will make people unwilling or unable to learn other languages and make other languages unnecessary.

One of the "risks" having only one language is that the chosen language may become very technical and "impoverished" for non-native speakers, e.g. the Eskimos, who have several words for snow, because they need it. They would probably not be able to express themselves properly if they only had one word for snow. And Swedish people would not be able to use the word "lagom", a word which says a lot about the Swedish society and people.

Many of the people who answered my question about "English as a Global Language", expressed a worry that if we only had one language, they would feel "poor" when it comes to expressing feelings and emotions in a language that is not their mother-tongue, that they would not know enough words to be able to really express how and what they feel.

  1. Standards which standard should be used? Strict or loose standards?

English is the mother-tongue of millions of people in different parts of the world.

If English were to become a global language, which standard of the language would be the global standard? Perhaps the standards would become looser.

Standard English is the English that is usually used in print. It is also the English

which is normally taught in school and to non-native speakers learning English.

This is also the standard that is spoken among educated people and used for news broadcasts.

Historically, the British Standard developed from the south-east part of England (the area around London). These dialects were spoken in court, used in law and by the government.

Standard English has a widely accepted grammar, and an accent that comes with this standard, the British English accent, also known as the "Oxford English", is the accent that is taught is schools. Furthermore this English has a major cultural influence, especially on the languages in the former Commonwealth countries, e.g. South Africa, Australia, and India as well as the European Union.

We often hear about "American-English", "South African-English" or other

"Englishes", but no such terms really exist. The different types of English are based on the British English but have developed grammatical and vocabulary differences because of influence and "loanwords" from other languages.

  1. Minor Languages and cultures

What will happen to minor cultures and languages if we introduce a global language?

An introduction of a global language might lead to discrimination of other languages. Losing a language equals losing identity. The language is much more than just a tool for communication. According to Trudgill there is an intimate relation between language and culture and a large homogenisation of culture might lead to a shift in language where native people adopt another language and eventually the old language may die out. There is a difference between "language death" and "language murder". Language death is when a language disappears naturally; its speakers are leaving it voluntarily, but "language murder" means that the killer language actively discourages use of other languages. Minority languages may be removed from the media and educational systems.

English is referred to as a "killer language", which means that it is a dominant language learned subtractive, at the cost of the mother tongues, rather than additively.

In the United States there have been a few "English Only" movements, the first one in 1803, when they banned the speaking of French among the population in Louisiana. After that, several attempts to remove Spanish and French have taken place. English is declared as the official language in several states in the US. The English-Only movements have been rejected by linguistics; they mean that a language does not create political unity, it takes more than that.

The use of one single language in a community is no guarantee for social harmony or mutual understanding. This has been proven several times during the history, e.g. American Civil War, Spanish Civil War and former Yugoslavia.

  1. Conclusion

This essay has shown that the creation of a global language has numerous advantages and disadvantages. Mutual intelligibility, great career opportunities and reduced administrative costs are some of the advantages a global language would give. The disadvantages are that English is closely linked to the British and the American cultures and history and is therefore not a "neutral" language. Perhaps a language with less historical and cultural connections would be a better option? We are in need of an international language for communication, politics, trade and security, but at the same time we are worried about language death, the advantages native speakers will have and all the disadvantages non-native speakers will face. English is growing, it is a strong language, and its future seems bright. My opinion is that if there will ever be an international language, English is the best option. It is a strong, well developed language with millions of speakers.

Even if a global language might be important, different languages are of importance for their culture and for the development of their native speakers. Languages make the world more interesting and more alive.

A lingua franca can be any language which is used for communication among people who have no native language in common. In many of the former European colonies in Africa, French or English are used as the language of communication in trade and business. In some parts of Africa, other African lingua francas, such as Swahili and Hausa, are used. These languages are indigenous in some countries and have become used because of political reasons.

When a language is used as a lingua franca, it undergoes a certain amount of reduction and simplification. The simplification often refers to getting rid of irregularities and grammatical gender in the lingua franca. This happens because adults are, unlike children, generally not good language learners, and therefore need a simplified version of the language.

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