English As the Global Language

Dovring makes a good point when she says that it is difficult for a person to free their self of their own communication realm (Dovring, 115). However, Dovring goes on to say that individuals who are required to learn a language other than their own for purposes of communicating with others, can cause them to become victims the language they acquire (Dovring, 115-116). It can, Dovring says, alter not just their language, but their personality too (Dovring, 116). Dovring equates forcing a second language upon another culture as cultural annihilation, and suggests that it is tantamount to suppression and oppression as was experienced under communism (Dovring, 115-120).

Again, when we consider the need to overcome the obstacles that are facing the world today – and they are very serious obstacles – Dovrings arguments are weak. Developing English as a universal language is possible, and it is possible to do this in a way that facilitates the goals and best interest of the global community without causing them to become victims or obliterating their cultural identity. It is a means by which to gap the communication between the communities of the world, and it is far from oppressing or suppressing the civil or human rights of others.

It is important to keep in mind that the global community is entitled to the benefits of science, medicine, and social good will that will be facilitated by the use of a universal language.

Why English is the Best Global Language Alternative

In deciding upon the language that best facilitates the goals of the global community, English is the best choice. Incorporating English as a second language is something that is already taking places in many places around the world. It is also common education and teaching practice in post colonial countries, where a lot of the social structures and system designs continue to operate just as they did during the English dominated colonial periods. This is not to say that the native language is no longer useful to the student, or that English should replace the way in which they communicate with their families in their homes or even their community. It only provides them the valuable tool to be bilingual with English as a second language that facilitates their communication needs in a changing world.

The nuance problems that Dovring cited in acquiring English as a second are fast becoming a non-problem, largely because of the internet. Today, we have people communicating around the world, acquiring the nuances that are necessary to efficiently and effectively use English as a tool of communication with others. Wan Shun Lam (2004), talks about the use of the internet as a tool to bridge the communication gap between people from different nations. There is, Lam says, a flourishing chat community in the various chat rooms on the internet whose natural tendency in communicating is going in the direction of English (Lam, 44). This is without legislating or law making actions, because acquiring English as a second language is easier for people phonetically than are other foreign languages. That this is occurring naturally on the internet speaks volumes as to why English as the global language is not just the right choice, but the natural choice too.

Ammon points out that much of the world is already acclimated to English as a second language, and certainly English as a business language (Ammon, 3). Ammon cites the fact that billions of dollars in American trade has served as the incentive for many people living in other countries to learn and acquire English as a second language. Add to this, too, the amount of trade and business that other English speaking nations do around the globe – Canada, Ireland, Australia, Scotland, and other English speaking countries – then it becomes clear that English is already being spoken on a large world scale.

Yadong Luo and Oded Shenkar (2006) did a study of the need for a second or universal language for the global community. Their study indicated that there is indeed a need for a universal language, and they find no harmful effects of acquiring and learning a second language to facilitate the world business, science, and other social needs. However, Luo and Shenkar suggest that in business, the parent company should be the primary language for all units of the company, even those in other countries (Luo and Shenkar, 321). This is an interesting proposition, but it still necessitates that each culture develop a tendency towards bilingualism – including the American culture.

The intent of global communication is not to make one language superior or primary over another, but to simply be able to communicate at a level and in a way that allows people to understand one another well enough and clear enough to do business and to share and exchange ideas that help to make the world community a better one.

Finally, the linguistics of learning and acquiring English as a second language make it the preferable choice. The English language is not as burdened with the linguistic problems and complexities as are other languages such as Chinese, Spanish, Italian or other languages where the set of feminine and masculine word forms as well as the verbs, nouns and adjectives create a complicated learning pattern. Language expert Lydia White (2003) writes:

major task for the first language (L1) acquirer is to arrive at a linguistic system which accounts for the input, allowing the child to build linguistic representations and to understand and produce language. UG is proposed as part of an innate biologically endowed language faculty (e.g. Chomsky 1965, 1981b; Pinker 1984, 1994), which permits the L1 acquirer to arrive at a grammar on the basis of linguistic experience (exposure to input). UG provides a genetic blueprint, determining in advance what grammars can (and cannot) be like. In the first place, UG places requirements on the form of grammars, providing an inventory of possible grammatical categories and features in the broadest sense, i.e. syntactic, morphological, phonological and semantic. In addition, it constrains the functioning of grammars, by determining the nature of the computational system, including the kinds of operation that can take place, as well as principles that grammars are subject to. UG includes invariant principles, that is, principles that are generally true across languages, as well as parameters which allow for variation from language to language (White, 2).”

Given this, it becomes easier to understand why more and more people outside the United find it easier to acquire English, than Americans and other English speaking people are able to acquire other than English languages. As mentioned earlier, English seems easy and almost natural for people of other cultures to learn and acquire. For that reason, English is the most reasonable and logical choice for a global language.

Works Cited


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