English as a Global Language?

English as a Global Language?

Inevitably, global language is associated to the globalisation, which is one of the factors and symbol for the themes that English language has become the dominate language in the world today. Through media you can see and hear a President, Politician, Celebrity, Musician from over the world represent English as the primary language. Wherever you go, there are many English signs and advertisement. In every hotel or restaurant in foreign city, they could understand English and there will be a menu in English.

1.Why English?

There is kind of statement that seem obvious the spread of English. English is a global language, so they say.

But is it English is the language that everyone in the world speaks? This is surely not true. Is it every country recognizes English as their official language? This is not true as well. So what does it mean to say that a language is a global language? English seems cited to this connection. Once language becomes a global language, will it be last forever?

Those are the fascinating question that can be explored. As I have explained in my previous article that English is not the only language that has become a global language through the course of history.

In fact, the idea of a ‘global language’ is older than English.

The spread of English around the world could raise bumpy feelings. For example, if you are native speaker, you may feel pride, while also shaded with concern, when you realize that people in other countries may not use the language in the same way as you do.

On the other hand, if your English is your second language, you may have mixed feelings of about it, such as losing your own mother-tongue, even deeper in losing your identity. Consequently, the extinction of your own language and the loss of uniqueness cultural identities are inevitable.

  1. Is English a global language?

Today, the closest illustration in this case is English, which has special status in over seventy countries in the world. This fact is beyond the status achieved by any other languages, such as French, German, Spanish, Russian and Arabic that are among those that also have develop a considerable use.

Many would reasonably claim that, in the field of business, academics, science, computing, education, transportation, politics, and entertainment. English is already established as de facto ‘lingua franca’.

Historically, political supremacy and the desire for commercial, cultural and technological contact are the reasons for choosing particular language as a favored of foreign language.

In several centuries back, English had become the world’s leading industrial and trading. Their economy was the most productive and a fastest growing in the world. The British political imperialism had sent English around the world.

Furthermore, during the course of twentieth century the world presence was maintained and promoted almost single hand through economic and cultural supremacy in arts, film and television; business and finance, computing, information, technology and internet of the new American superpower. Therefore, economic replaced political as the chief driving force, and the language behind the US dollar is English and that continues to maintain until today.

Moreover, many great books, science, research, information, knowledge, tapes, computers, telecommunication system are all preserved in English.

The question is that, is everyone having access to English language and being able to learn it through the media, libraries, schools and education institution? Of course not all countries could have access to it.

Then, how about people who do not have access to learn English?

  1. Critical Age

It is still ambiguous that English emerge as a global language; however the spreading of English is truly remarkable. However, there still some way to go for English language becomes a universal reality. It has still a very limited presence in certain parts of the world. Many countries tend to preserved their cultural identity, and devoted the role of their language (e.g French, Arabic, Spanish etc). Notwithstanding, the general world trend, there are many linguistic confrontations still needs to be resolved.

  1. What about the future?

Although English currently appears to be in an unquestionable position today, the question is still remains. Will it be last?

In the middle ages, Latin seemed forever sets as the language of education and culture, as did French in eighteenth century. But circumstances change and there are several factors which might precipitate such change once again.

The USA, with its dominance in economic, technical and cultural terms, is the driving force behind English in the world today. However, if USA were losing its position of economic and technical domination; the language may well shift to the dominant power.

Currently, perhaps China is one of the possible candidates in terms of its economic domination, but it is not difficult to imagine circumstances in which it could happen.

instead, Arabic may be once again flourish in terms of its religion domination, and cultural tradition and the fact as the liturgical language of Al-Quran.

Or perhaps any other languages, that depends on who holds the power, influence and dominate the world.

Whether or not a global language is necessary in order to pursue order, peace and unity, and to make world a better place; language is one of the mediums on human connection, and so we must realize from the fact that human connection are deeper than words. Language is not the only thing that holds people together and connecting people from any other parts of the world. But language is one of the ways in achieving those connections and to make sense the world we live in. Therefore, the first revelation is to read.




A Global Language; on its historical dynamisms

A Global Language; on its historical dynamisms
Language and its story
Language and its story

Language is inevitably playing a key role on human lives and one of the most essential tools of human capacity. Through languages we can understand each other, telling stories and even deeper uses in describing and communicating our thought, feelings and emotions.

Historically, languages has been changed and modified. Thus, several languages through its dynamics context have connecting people from many parts of the world. Global language may connect to the power holder which depends on who dominate the world that have swift from time to time.

The origin at human language will perhaps remain for over obscure. There are about 5000 languages spoken today, but scholars group them into few families’ roots, probably less than twenty.

Languages are linked to each other by shared words or sounds or grammatical constructions. The theory is that the members of each linguistic group have descended from one language, a common language.

The most widespread group of languages today is Indo-European, spoken by half world population.

Language tree
Indo-European is the roots of today’s language families

Another linguistic group of significance in the early history of West Asia and still of great importance today, is the Semitic family of languages, among them are Hebrew, Phoenician, Aramaic and Arabic. These also believed to derive from the language of just one tribal group, possibly nomads in Southern Arabia.

Why a Global Language?

First of all, what does it mean to claim that a language become a global language? What languages that has been considered as a global language? Do we actually need a global language? Once a language becomes a global language, will it be last forever? Is it global language is just a utopia idea? Such question is interestingly needed to be considered and explore.

I’d like answer these questions based on the understanding from historical perspective of the global language that has been the main concern of language course over the centuries.

There’s many who said that, language is a sensitive subject to the way other people use. The abusive concern is that, a feeling in possessiveness of the language itself. Indeed, there’s a consequence in global language, such as the lost sense of belonging of ‘our’ language. It seems that global language has built the feelings that nobody owns it anymore, or rather people who learns it now owns it, or has a shared in it, and has the right to used it in their own way. Consequently, this makes people feel uncomfortable for the native speaker and people who are studied it for the second language.

However, these feelings are considered natural. There are of course pros and cons in making a language a global language, or it is just a utopia idea or just a paradigm. Although, this facts alone gives rise to fears, whether real or imaginary, and inevitably fears leads to conflict.

A language is marching; language is like a hunger-strike, marginal language is decreasing and death is the facts in several countries.

Globalisation is one of the reasons in emerging global language and the spread of and integration of ideas and information has a great impact, in pursing the advent and faster communication in political, economics, education, laws are encounters for millions today.

Therefore, it seems that there’s a close link between language and power.

What is a global language?

There may be no exact definition of ‘global’ or ‘world’ language. However, it is more concern on a language that is used and spoken internationally and learned by a large number of people as a second language. Moreover, it may also regard to the geographical distribution and the use of a language by International organisation and diplomatic relations.

Historically, the establishment of global language according to who wield power, for example, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Arabic, French and English is no exception are among those who establish global language in such terms.

A language may become a global language for one main reason: the power of its people, including their political and military power. The explanation could be the same throughout history.

Then, how does a language come to achieve global status?

A global language can be considered as a ‘lingua franca’ a common language that enables people from diverse backgrounds and ethnicity to communicate on a more or less equitable basis.

A language may achieve a global status when a language taken up by other countries around the world, and develop a special role that is recognized in every country.

What makes a global language?

Historically, Latin became an International language during the reign of Roman Empire. The reason behind it is that, was not the Romans were many than the people they dominated. But merely, Roman was more powerful and had a significant influence.

Moreover, France, which has long been the language of communication and diplomacy, and the favored second language among elite and educated classes in Europe in their time, but still remains one of the working languages of many International languages.

Arabic, gained international prominence because of the Islamic golden age and the spread of Islam throughout middle east, Northern Africa and small part of Europe. And it is also a Liturgical Language (sacred/ holy language), among Muslim outside Arab world. Arabic language plays a key role for the translation as a basis of many important knowledge and scientific texts during the age of enlightenment in European Renaissance.

And also, Chinese language that spread as a historical lingua franca in the Far East Asia. And so, other languages, such as Russian, Spanish and also in the major languages of the Indian subcontinent, South Asia and South-East Asia such as Sanskrit.

Other historical significance of global language as ‘lingua franca’ of a historical empire is including Egyptian in ancient Egypt; Sumerians and Aramaic in various Mesopotamia civilizations.

Moreover, several Semitic languages play a prominent role part in the early civilization of the region, from the Babylon and Assyrians to the Hebrew and Phoenicians. Aramaic becomes for a while the ‘lingua franca’ of the Middle East.

Therefore, without strong power-base, no language can achieve such status in making progress as an International medium of communication. The close link are between language domination, technological and cultural power. Language may have no independent existence, which live in a kind of mystical space apart from the people who use it, it exists in the brain and mouths and ears and hands of it users. When they succeed in International stage, their language succeeds, and vice versa.

Why did Greek become a language of International communication in the Middle East over 2000 years ago? It was not because of the intellect of Plato and Aristotle; the answer lies in the swords and spears wielded by the armies of Alexander the Great.

Why did Latin become known throughout Europe? The answer that Romans were simply dominate and more powerful.

Why did Arabic come to spoken widely across Africa and the Middle East? It followed the spread of Islam.

And so on, thus, global language and its explanation is the same throughout history, especially by the power of its people on the political, military, economic power on a global scale.

Do we need a global language?

Over centuries, translation has played a central role in human interaction. Some argued that the modern ‘global village’ needs a ‘global language’. Moreover, global language may bring unity and peace. Nevertheless, this assumption cannot be justifiable. For example, many wars and destruction is cause by the communities with the same language (e.g The British and American civil wars, The Spanish civil wars). Conversely, countries with multicultural and diversity manage to harmonize, and live quite peaceably (e.g Switzerland, Singapore, Canada).

What are the drawbacks of a global language?

There are many benefits of a global language; although it is not close the possibility could have some drawbacks. For instances, language diversity is decreasing, global language may threatening freedom of speech and multiculturalism, the extinction of minority languages and the loss of unique cultural diversity and also the suppression of social and ethnic identities.

Therefore, the idea of global language is still abstract and still not well-founded on its basis and because of its dynamism of the world through the change in circumstances and conditions that depend on the power-holder and singularity of influence. The fact that, there are a lot of traditional cultures and languages that still preserved today. Cultural identity is important in order to keep minority of their way of live, away from any force from the outside world to accept their way of life in the name of globalisation. Therefore, the idea of global language must be clear and respect any other culture that exist today if the world want to achieve a significance order, peace and unity.

If global language is necessary, a global language must cover all aspects of life that respect human being from its essential being and can be understood by everyone, a language that direct humanity to the truth of live and guided them to the straight path, apart from any interest of power-holder and political and economic of domination.