Review : english as global language by david crystal
English as a Global Language by David Crystalby: Maria RajaIntroduction: Crystal begins “English as a Global Language” by asking what it means for a language to be global, and what the advantages and disadvantages of having a global language are. David crystal suggests that “a language becomes a global language for one reason political power of its people” In three chapters he then traces the rise of English to that status. The first surveys the extent of its use around the world and briefly outlines the history of its spread. The second examines some nineteenth century ideas about the place of English in the world and the foundations for its success laid by the British Empire and the Industrial Revolution. The third describes the cultural legacy that underpins the present dominance of English its use in diplomacy and international communications, in the media (popular music, books), in education, and on the Internet. The final chapter looks at the future of English as a global language, focusing on debates about its status within the United States and the possibility of its fragmentation into regional dialects.Why a Global Language?‘English is the global language’ The British Empire may be in full retreat with the handover of Hong Kong. But from Bengal to Belize and Las Vegas to Lahore, the language of the scepter isle is rapidly becoming the first global lingua franca.What is a global language? A language achieves a genuinely global status when it develops a special role that is recognized in every country. This might seem like stating the obvious, but it is not, for the notion of ‘special role’ has many facets. Such a role will be most evident in countries where large numbers of the people speak the language.Why a Global Language? These are the kinds of statement which seem so obvious that most people would give them hardly a second thought. Of course English is a global language, they would say. “You hear it on television spoken by politicians from all over the world. Wherever you travel you see
English signs and advertisements...” English is not spoken by people everywhere in the world. It is not an official language in every country in the world. Is it a good thing? or bad? • Good: pride that your language is the one which has been so successful • Bad: that means that other people can change it without consulting you as an “authority” b/c you are a native speaker and they are not.If English becomes a global language it is no longer OWNED by anyone. American speakers might gripe that they cannot understand the tech support person in India who also grew up as a native speaker of English British speakers may look around and say “Look what the Americans have done to English” Do you need to learn English? “it will take a great deal of effort to master it, and you may begrudge the effort. However you will feel pride in your achievement, and savor the communicative power at your disposal... but may feel that mothertongue speakers of Eng. have an unfair advantage .If you live in a country where your own language is threatened by the success of English, you may feel envious, resentful or angry.” Why English? Historical and Cultural reasons:A language that has developed a special role that is recognized in every country. What is a “special role”? large numbers of people speak it as a mother tongue in case of Eng: USA, Canada, Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, several Caribbean countries, and a few other territories. There are two main ways in which a language can achieve this “special place” in nonmother tongue places. It can be made an official language. One that is used as a medium of communication in domains such as government, law, media, education. English has achieved this status in over 70 countries in places such as Ghana, Nigeria, India, Singapore, Vanuatu, Rwanda... It can be made a priority in the country’s foreign language teaching (without formal official status). The language most accessible to children in school . Most available to adults for continued
education etc. English is currently taught as a second language in over 100 countries including China, Russia, Germany, Spain, Egypt, Brazil... English to achieve special place Made English as Use English as Teaching Material Official Language (Education, Books, teaching) (Media, communication)English as an “Official” language: • Sole official language of a country • Shared official status . • Semiofficial’ status (only in certain domains) • Formally acknowledged in a constitution (e.g. India). • Or even controversial as an Official language (USA) Factors: • historical tradition • political expediency • commercial, cultural, technological contact. • governmental financial support as a foreign • language • availability of resources for teaching Other dominance factors: Economic, technological, and cultural power From how many other languages has English borrowed words?"English has borrowed words from over 350 other languages, and over threequarters of the English lexicon is actually Classical or Romance in origin. Plainly, the view that to borrow words leads to a languages decline is absurd, given that English has borrowed more words than most."What makes a Global Language? not as much with number of those who speak it but rather who those speakers are. Latin was an international language not because it was spoken by more people but by the more powerful
people. Language does not have an independent existence: It only exists in the brains, mouths, ears, hand, & eyes of those who use it. Languages don’t become dominate because they are more expressive, aesthetic, used for literature or religion. There is nothing inherently better about English .Some appealing things about English may be that it has familiarity due to the large amount of borrowed words (particularly with French) Possibly has a “simpler” structure.Some not so appealing things about English: “A language has traditionally become an international language for one chief reason: the power of its people ,especially their political and military power.” The history of a global language can be traced through the successful expeditions of its soldier/sailor speakers . HOWEVER, while military might can establish a language — a Powerful economy is needed to maintain and expand it. Global English use in : • Communication, Commerce, • international marketing and advertising , Entertainment, telegraph, telephone, radio, TV... • Movies, Music, • Education,Drive to make progress in science and technology.Spread of English:at the beginning of the 19th century Britain had become a world leader in industry and trade “British political imperialism had sent English around the globe” “By the early 20th century the world presence was maintained and promoted through the economic supremacy of the new American superpower” “Economics replaced politics as the chief driving force. And the language behind the US was English” Example of English’s World Influence : Models of Kachru, Mcauthor and Modiano.Why do we need a Global Language? There are limits to what can be done through translations ,Traditionally the “language contact”
problem has been solved by using a lingua franca (or common language). sometimes in the form of a pidgin . sometimes as a particular indigenous language . Many times an “Outside” language is used b/c of the political, economic or religious influence of a foreign power. In historic times Latin was a lingua franca throughout the Roman Empire .However many times a lingua franca extended only over a small community of speakers in modern times languages have developed major international roles in limited areas of the world such as: Swahili, Arabic, Spanish, French, English , Hindi, Portuguese. English as lingua franca:The prospect that a lingua franca might be needed for the whole world is something that has emerged strongly only in the last half of the 20th century. Particularly with development of organizations such as the United Nations, World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF, World Health Organization, International Atomic Energy Agency, etc. The UN was established with 5 Official languages: English, French, spanish Russian and ChineseDangers of A Global Language: cultivate an elite monolingual social class who have the advantage of being able to use it to get richer while those who are not as proficient or even ever exposed to it stay poor and resulted in the disappearance of minority languages .Advantages? • World wide communication • No need to learn other languages can focus on more important matters. • Harmony and peace – no misunderstandings Other factors to be considered in a World Language: • Linguistic Power • Linguistic Complacency • Linguistic Death
Language domination and death is independent of the emergence of a global language. Possibly 50% or so of the world’s (6000 or so) languages will be lost in the next 100 years Emergence of a global language has only a limited 112508 causal relationship with these affairs. The Future of Global English?Linguistic history shows us repeatedly that it is wise to be cautious, when making predictions about the future of a language. In speculating about the future of English as a world language, therefore, we need to pay careful attention to indications which seem to go against the general trend. Several possibilities can be envisaged. A significant change in the balance of power – whether political, economic, technological or cultural. Political factors might make groups of people within a country, or even whole countries or groups of countries, antagonistic to English.The rejection of English:People of a country feel so antagonistic or ambivalent about English that they reject theoption to give English a privileged status, either as an official language or as a foreign language. It is inevitable that, in a postcolonial era, there should be a strong reaction against continuing to use the language of the former colonial power, and in favor of promoting the indigenous languages. People have a natural wish to use their own mothertongue, tosee it survive and grow, and they do not take kindly when the language of another culture is imposed on them. Despite the acknowledged values which the language of that culture can bring, the fact remains that English has an unhappy colonial resonance in the minds of many, and a history where local languages could easily be treated with contempt.Contrasting attitudes: the US situation:Given that the USA has come to be the dominant element in so many of the domains identified in earlier chapters, the future status of English must be bound up to some extent with the future of that country. So much of the power which has fuelled the growth of the English language during the twentieth century has stemmed from America. there is the closest of links between language and power. If anything were to disestablish themilitary or economic power of the USA, there would be inevitable consequences for the global
status of the language. The millions of people learning English in order to have access to this power.New Englishes:The spread of English around the world has already demonstrated this, in the emergence of new varieties of English in the different territories where the language has taken root. The change has become a major talking point only since the 1960s, hence the term by which these varieties are often known: ‘new Englishes’. The different dialects of Britishand American English provide the most familiar example. These who varieties diverged almost as soon as the first settlers arrived in America.How many people in the world today speak English?Firstlanguage speakers: 375 millionSecondlanguage speakers: 375 millionForeignlanguage speakers: 750 million.Conclusion:Crystal provides us with an excellent account of the growth of English as the global language. Good Book Guide,Crystal’s fundamental perspective is that multilingualism is a “world resource”, but at the same time, a common language is equally important. Language has, Crystal states, two important functions: one communicative across localities, and one to build cultural and community solidarity within localities. English as a Global Language is a fascinating work, and its numerous insights merit many more pages of review than we can afford to devote to it at present.