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Running head: DOMINANCE OF ENGLISH AS A WORLD LANGUAGE
Dominance of English as world language
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DOMINANCE OF ENGLISH AS A WORLD LANGUAGE
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Introduction
A language is a unique tool for communication since it is what makes all human beings
and even animals understand each other. In the world today, there are several languages.
However, the most common languages that are spoken widely are English, French, German and
Spanish among others. Even so, in all the languages spoken internationally in business, learning
and also as national languages, English is supreme. The dominance of English can be seen in its
extensive use not just in many countries that the other languages, but also being used in many
scenarios. English is spoken by at least 375 million people in the world in about fifty states. If
the mentioned data is compared to the French language that is expressed in approximately
twenty-nine countries, Germany spoken in about six countries and Spanish spoken in twenty
countries, then English is typically dominant. When it comes to areas of use, English is used in
almost all areas of study, beginning with science all the way to business studies to history. It is
also used in the international meetings and other factors that entail bringing people from various
parts of the world together such as sports.
Several factors make the language-dominant as explained by experts and these factors do
not only surround globalization. This language whose history is traced from a Germanic dialect,
grew slowly but surely through the constant transformation to become the global language. Even
so, the three important factors that led to the dominance of English were the imperialism and
raise of British as an imperial power, the rise of America as an international power after World
Wars and globalization through the invention of World Wide Web. The British moved from one
end of the world to another seeking for mineral resources, and along the way, their explorers
spread the language. In places where they established colonies, the language was used as an
official language and was taught to locals. Eventually, English was circulated widely in the
DOMINANCE OF ENGLISH AS A WORLD LANGUAGE
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British colonies. When Britain declined as an international superpower after the Second World
War, America emerged and was a country that also spoke English; they spread the language
through making it useful in the global meetings. When globalization was made possible through
the invention of the internet, the internet language was English, and so, the dominance of the
language continued. These mentioned factors among other concerning the dominance of the
language, form the core of this discourse.
Literature review
The popularity and the dominance of English language lie within its history; it’s spread
and historical events such as renaissance and globalization. These three factors have contributed
immensely to the growth and dominance of the English language. According to Pennycook
(2017), English language initially comes from a West Germanic dialect and transformed to the
Middle English, then to Shakespearian English and finally to the modern English that exists
today. This assertion has also been supported by Pennycook (2017) who goes ahead even to
point out how the events in the history of the language have contributed to the dominance of the
English. Hence Pennycook (2017) explains that English was transformed from the original
Anglo-Saxon language through contact and conquest of Britain by the Normans. This them led to
the development of the Middle English. Consequently, English developed into the Shakespearian
language that then was transformed to modern English through increased changes in the
pronunciation of the vowels called the Great Vowel Shift. Ammon (2001) has further agreed that
the constant transformation of English language contributed to its development to a much more
straightforward language that is also easier to write.
DOMINANCE OF ENGLISH AS A WORLD LANGUAGE
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The dominance of the language has also been catalyzed by events in the history of
Europe and the world. Thus, Clarke, D. (2012) explains that when a language is dominant, it is
when the language has the power of the people that do not speak it and hence it is forcefully
transferred to the non-speakers. This theory may be supported by Ammon (2001) who is pointing
out that, the events such as colonization set the platform for the dominance of the English
language. This was then followed by the increase in internet technology that led to globalization
(Hogg & Denison, 2008). In this case, America became the central player in the spread and
dominance of the language since the internet technology emerged from America and hence
anyone who desired to use it has to be acquitted with a little knowledge of English language.
Clarke, D. (2012) has pointed out that, globalization is not the only event that gave English a
chance to gain mileage since the renaissance period led to the translation of various material
written in Latin to English. Eventually, the language dominated the academic field.
History of English language
English is a language that originated from West Germany from an Anglo-Frisian dialect.
The Germanic invaders in the mid-5th and 7th century introduced English in Britain and as a
result, replaced the Celtic language that had dominated the region at the time. Consequently in
Old English that was popular during the Anglo-Saxon regime developed to Middle English
(Crystal, 2012). The Middle English was then spoken from the Norman Conquest to the late
years of the 25th century. The shaping of the Middle English was very significant to the
development of the language, and one of the catalysts to this shaping was British contact with the
North Germanic language that was spoken mainly by the Scandinavians (Hogg & Denison,
2008). Still, English was shaped by the conquest of the Normans, and their contributions were
DOMINANCE OF ENGLISH AS A WORLD LANGUAGE
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towards the increase of vocabularies related to Church and the Christian religion. They also
developed the vocabularies used in the court systems and governance.
The modern language that has finally shaped to the English language that is popular
today can be dated from 1500. It is also called the Shakespearian English due to its connection
to the writings of Shakespeare (Hogg & Denison, 2008). The language at this time was
influenced a lot by Latina and Ancient Greeks primarily due to the Renaissance that was focused
mostly on the works of the earlier Greek scholars (Crystal, 2012). At this point, the language
borrowed not only from the Latin but also from other European languages like Germany, Dutch
and French. It is significant to point out that the shaping of English at this time was mainly in the
shift of vowel pronunciation also called the Great Vowel Shift. Modern English is as such very
similar to English in 1500.
In the periods of colonization and explorations to other regions in the world, the language
was spread to other parts of the world, and this also contributed to the many different English in
the world even though they are not recognized globally (Hogg & Denison, 2008). For instance,
there is the American English that is slightly different from the British English. The spread of the
language far and wide accompanied, by other opportune factors can be considered as the
significant contributors to making English a Dominant world language.
The spread of English across the world
The spread of English language can be accounted for entirely to have begun with the
British sailors. It is important to note that Historically, Britain was among the first countries to
become very powerful and with their wealth, the government facilitated sailors who explored the
world for trade or for the search of dominions to conquer. Because of the regular sailing
DOMINANCE OF ENGLISH AS A WORLD LANGUAGE
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overseas, the sailors began spreading the language to the other communities they came into
contact with. Clarke (2012) supports this observation by stating that, the number one way
through which a language can easily spread is if the owners of the language can make a lot of
contacts through them moving to other regions. This gives room for the language to cover (even
if slowly) to other places.
During the colonization period again the language gained a boost and spread to several
dominions of the British. Historically, it is recorded that Britain was the only European country
that had conquered many regions in the world and made them their colonies. Britain as such
spread the language to territories either through force because they were colonialists and the
colonized were their subjects, or though compelling the colonized or also through education
(Clarke, 2012).
Then the spread of English after the colonial periods should also be discussed. However,
at this point, Britain is not really in the picture due to the country’s decline after the Second
World War. The state to be observed at this time is the United States of America (Pennycook,
2017). This period the U.S spread the language because they engage in international relations
with many countries. Also because they were the industrial power and as such were dominant
(Clarke, 2012). Even so, the spread of English was significant due to the initiation and spread of
internet technology. The internet technology was initiated by the American, and since they were
the owners and drivers of technology that connected the entire world, the platform was set for
English to spread even much faster.
Why English is a dominant language
1.
English Dominance in the 19th Century
DOMINANCE OF ENGLISH AS A WORLD LANGUAGE
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Many people consider the 19th century as a period when profound and increased changes
such that some individuals considered it as living a life of three hundred years in only thirty
years. Among the things that came out were the urbanization, industrialization and new
technologies and scientific discoveries (Hogg & Denison, 2008). The day to day living was
marked by tremendous changes, and the transformation was also experienced in the field of
education. The ramification of the 1870 act called the General Education Act by the British
government gave room for all children to get an education and this further meant that more
people were getting an education by 1900 (Crystal, 2012). They knowledge contributed to the
strengthening of the language by increasing the number of professional scholars of the language.
Furthermore, in the 19th century, the British empire became a truly global empire, and this is the
period when the world’s most powerful country at the time had colonies on all continents in the
world. The trade language in all the British colonies was English. This discovery can explain
why the language successfully got a foothold in almost all the corners of the world at the time.
If every continent had English speakers, it could clearly reveal that the spread of the
language to every corner of the world was ripening. Ammon, (2001) proceeds to indicate that the
influence of the British as they carried along with them the English language continued into
1900ss and by the time 1922 was ending, the British Empire was dominating over 400 million
people which is almost a quarter of the world’s population at the time. When this history is
looked at from the perspective of the English language, then it is right to conclude that by 1922,
over 450 million people were already exposed to English language (Pennycook, 2017). Such a
scenario gave the language an upper hand over the other languages that were spoken by the other
world’s powerful nations at the time.
DOMINANCE OF ENGLISH AS A WORLD LANGUAGE
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Furthermore, the industrial revolution that might have started in the 18th century and the
change from old cottage industry to an industrial society was an indicator that the language was
also going to be affected. To some experts, the industrial revolution showed the likelihood of the
emergence of new vocabulary. At this point, English proved itself to the world during the Great
Exhibition in 1851 (Ammon, 2001). The language showed that it was made for the machine age
and added to the trade terminologies from the language, then the language was empathetically
empowered within that period. During the exhibition, the languages that were introduced in
were: ‘self-acting mill,’ ‘cylindrical steam press’ and ‘power looms need. This incident took place
along with the standardization of spelling the language and in the end, attempted to regulate
English (Caplan, 2013). The attempt to make English words have standard spelling was
dominant during the eighteenth century. The standardization merged upon the dominant feeling
that the language needed to be regulated as it had been with the classical Greek and Latin
languages. Hence it is significant that ion the process of understanding the reason why the
English language is dominant, the industrial revolution and events during the period also
contributed to the spread and strength of English.
2.
The Rise of America as a Global Power
The rise of America as a global superpower country cannot be ignored when explaining
why English is a dominant language. There were activities that the American nation conducted
after getting to their position as world industrials country, which contributed to the populating of
English language. The first is the increase in the U.S. science graduates who further increased the
use of English as a language in the field of science. According to Crystal, (2012), approximately
two hundred and ninety-three American graduates in the field of science in 1902 created a large
population of scientists who strengthened the use of English in science. Typically, by 1990s the
DOMINANCE OF ENGLISH AS A WORLD LANGUAGE
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country had more than thirty thousand Science scholars with Ph.D. being released into the
society annually by the time 209th century was setting in, there were more than one million new
American researchers in science (Buchanam, 2015). As the researcher made their scientific
discoveries, they recorded and documented their work using the English language. Consequently,
the language became a lingua franca of Science. This big group of scientists did a lot of research
in the field of science and made records of their work. All these projects were written and
published in the English language.
Another factor that gave America an advantage was the fall of USSR. After World War
II, there was a contest between USSR and the United States over which country was really to
dominate the world regarding policies, arms, and riches. America was working hard to spread
their policy of capitalism, while USSR was spreading communism. Eventually, USA managed to
bring an end to USSR and communism, and this also gave the English language a chance to
spread further to all the corners of the world. In this competition, the two nations were setting up
satellite states in various contents, and this meant a foothold in a given region. Therefore, the
victory of America over USSR was a victory for English to increase its dominance. Buchanam,
(2015) concludes this event by mentioning that, the war against the communist government that
was spearheaded by the U.S. resulted in a collapse on the union in 1991. U.S.A gained
recognition the English language once again remained supreme internationally.
The power of America was however felt with the development of Google in 1995. As the
ability of U.S. solidified, through this technology, the strength of English in the international
community (Buchanam, 2015). The language used in searching Google or Google’s language is
English the most researcher still use the same language to conduct research and record their
DOMINANCE OF ENGLISH AS A WORLD LANGUAGE
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finding in English. Such conducts also gave English an opportunity to lead in the number of
population that uses the language.
As the internet continues to grow, the use of social media like Facebook and the
developers of these social media were Americans (Crystal, 2012). The main aim of these
developments of social media was to increase connectivity between people in different parts of
the world. Even so, the role that social media has played in making English the worlds popularly
used language. One thing that cannot fail to be mentioned regarding the victory of America was
their involvement in the Marshall Plan to many countries in Europe. Through this program, many
nations in the U.S.A that welcomed the program
3.
English Is the Language of Technology and Science
English as a language of technology and science makes it very difficult to shy away or
overlook English. The period of the industrial revolution that was also characterized by the
scientific discoveries was also a period when many scientific tests and knowledge was printed
(Caplan, 2013). As already mentioned, this time led to the increased use of English language in
science that made it almost trying to do away with it in the field. Based on such observations, it
is evident that in the world today, the language is used in all areas that involve science is only
English (Hogg & Denison, 2008). To date, however, the global Scientists Association has not
made it clear that English has been made a language in science officially. Despite this delay in
the declaration, most activities are still carried out in the language by these experts.
One discovery that is very outstanding about the language as used by scientists is that
only five percent of the world’s native speakers do not adequately communicate in English. The
remaining ninety-five percent of the speaker of English is non-native speaker. This means that
DOMINANCE OF ENGLISH AS A WORLD LANGUAGE
11
the language is very widely spoken and the non-English speaker is increasing. This is more than
enough evidence that the language can be a dominant language in the world today. Further, there
are some people increasing the population of English speakers. Ammon, (2001) has mentioned
that every day there is a person who has learned English. Therefore, so many things have
contributed to the increased interest in the use of English language. The first it the use of the
internet as a source of information. The more one looks through the internet, the more they can
see that many web pages are written in English. It now becomes an almost mandatory that one
must be able to know English to look through the internet and also search through it (Buchanam,
2015). In a nutshell, the events of the industrial revolution, followed by the events after the
Second World War and finally the development of globalization has led to English becoming a
significant language in science and technology because most of these experts are Americans
which is an English speaking nation.
4.
English as a language of international organization
In the global arena, it has become prevalent to use English as the language of commerce
and finance. Clarke (2012) explains that the consolidation of the global economy has led to the
establishment of enterprises internationally. In many cases, the need to, coordinate and
communicate in this globalized corporate field the most commonly used language has been
English, and in many, cases, most parties involved in international trade find it more flexible
when using the English language as opposed to any other language. Moreover, most of the
business terminologies in the study of finance and business are in English. This has made
English stronger and more dominant over the other languages.
DOMINANCE OF ENGLISH AS A WORLD LANGUAGE
12
International relations are events that began very long time ago. The need for countries to
meet and discuss world affairs was heightened after the First and the Second World Wars. When
U.S.A emerged the most influential cou …
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