The Continuing Development of English as a Global Language (Part 2)

Postcolonial English Development

     English has taken precedence over many other languages during recent history. The rise of English as a global language has led individuals from English speaking countries to take the language for granted. In other words, motivation to learn a second language is virtually nonexistent for these individuals. In a specific example, a gentleman from Ireland commented that “Everything that we inherit, the rain, the skies, the speech, and anybody who works in the English language in Ireland knows that there's the dead ghost of Gaelic in the language we use and listen to and that those things will reflect our Irish identity” (John McGahern). In saying this, John wanted it to be known that English has subjugated Gaelic in Ireland.

     Technology has also played a vital role in the continual expansion of English. The first form of expansion was in entertainment – music, video games, movies, and the internet. Many individuals learn English in order to comprehend these media outlets better. For example, many television channels and movie theaters in Madrid now show movies and programs in their original language, thus, providing a realistic scaffold for students of EFL in Spain. A second reason for expansion is within the field of medicine. The development of the medical field took place amongst the numerous advances in medical technology in the USA (i.e. penicillin). It was stated that the European Academy of Anaesthesiology and the European Academy and Facial surgery write their documents and databases in English (Crystal 88:2003). Therefore, these influences of media and health aided the spread of the language.

     The UN as well as many other agencies function with English as the moderating language. In Crystal's book it mentions that in the mid-90's there were about 13,000 international organizations in which 85% used English as the official language (Crystal 86:2003). This isn't surprising when considering that by this time period English had already established itself as a global language for 40 years. In the European perspective, English applies to nearly half of international organizations (Crystal 88:2003). Europe has such a powerful pull on international politics that this incredible percentage helps augment the power of English in not just the Western Hemisphere.

     Next, English is the mandated international language of aviation. This means that all on-board personnel need to speak the language in order to get a job. Other international businesses (i.e. globalized companies) acquire individuals who speak English to expand the companies business. In the historical perspective, European organizations and the League of Nations incorporated English and French as their official languages after the first world war which led to its quick dissemination (Crystal 86-87:2003). Even though the workers may be from a country with a different mother tongue the workers will still employ English as a means of communication.

     Where ever the destination a traveler goes to, there is a high probability that a tourist will find an English speaker. In conjunction, many bookings for hotels and flights are made in English. Airports have incorporated English translations to their signs in recognition of English being the global language. Through these travels, those who can communicate in the global language could create long-lasting bonds between themselves and their fellow passengers. Referring to our previous claim in Case 2 that English appears in the global scheme merely by accident. Crystal reported that colonialism and the industrialization led to the USA being a forerunner in economic power (Crystal 120:2003). Therefore, speaking English enables nations to progress in international relations.

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Tags: English, bilingual, bilingualism, education, globalization

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Comment by noaslpls on May 27, 2013 at 11:47

I think most of the citizens of developing nations and third world countries view English as the way to move up-ward, either in terms of socially or professionally. Maybe because all those materials are more common in English, and not "everyone" can get their hands on them. And as you mentioned, more opportunities are for people who knows English.

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