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.
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.