The Effects of a Global Language (Blog Post #8 Option 1 of 3)

In Jamaica Kincaid’s article, “On Seeing England for the First Time,” her disdain for England is blatantly obvious. Learning about a culture that she felt did not pertain to her frustrated her growing up. She also felt that it was wrong of them to be, in a sense, worshipping the people who were rewarded for creating the slave trade. Kincaid felt no real connection with England, yet was forced to learn about it anyways. If English were to become our global language, do you think this mentality would resonate with those who would have to learn it? What kind of tension would this create for our global economy? How would you feel if forced to learn about not only a culture that did not pertain to you, but an entire language? And finally, do you see having a global language as a positive or negative thing for our world?

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18 Responses to The Effects of a Global Language (Blog Post #8 Option 1 of 3)

  1. MM24 says:

    I do not think Jamaica Kincaid’s mentality would overtake everyone in the world if English became our global language. In Kincaid’s case, I believe that the tension she felt towards English had more to do with the people of England, the culture, which resulted from the colonization of her country. As she writes, “The world was theirs, not mine; everything told me so…my nose was pressed up against a glass window all right, but there was an iron vise at the back of my neck forcing my head to stay in place” (369). This statement seems to touch on more of the cultural trends that Kincaid feels forced to perform, like using utensils to eat. Despite this, I can imagine a non-English speaker agreeing with this statement because of a feeling of necessity to learn English, if English was a global language. Personally, I would almost enjoy being forced to learn a new language and culture because I have always wanted to. I am sure this is not the feeling of everyone, though, and I cannot speak for non-English speakers.

    I actually think the global economy could possibly benefit from having a global language. It would enable partnerships and relationships between countries that were not possible before because of language barriers. On the other hand, who would pay to teach the world English? Doing this could case extreme debt for the global economy.

    Though I do think that there would be some benefits to having English as a global language, I think it would be overall a negative thing for our world. Teaching the language to entire world seems improbable and extremely expensive. Also, I believe many people would oppose it for a long time, and cultures would be more offended than accepting.

  2. Sushi says:

    It is hard for me to decide whether or not Kincaid’s negative mentality would resonate with those who would have to learn English if it were to become our global language. I think that certain countries and groups of people that negatively view the things associated with the English language would experience the disdain, while those who do not mind those associations or, rather, like those associations, would not experience the disdain. For example, I feel that the English language is tied to America so strongly that the groups of people that do not like our country would be angered if forced to learn a language that is so central to us. This is what would create tension in our global economy – the feelings of those people who do not want anything to do with English.

    If I were forced to learn about a culture completely different from mine, as well as learn a whole new language, I actually agree a little bit with MM24 in that I might actually like this. It is the word “learn” that is key here, though. I really would not mind just learning, but actually being forced to embody that culture and that language and completely ignore/disregard my home culture and language would most definitely anger me as it did Kincaid. I completely understand her reasons for such disdain.

    I cannot come to a conclusion as to whether or not having a global language would be a positive or negative thing for our world. As Crystal pointed out, there are both positives and negatives in implementing a global language, and I’m torn on whether it would be a good thing or a bad thing overall.

  3. KT@Pitt says:

    People would definitely resent being forced to learn a global language. As we have discussed many times in class, people feel culturally tied to their first language. Many people would probably feel frustrated with this situation, just like Kincaid.

    According to Crystal, if English is your mother tongue, “You may feel pride, that your language is the one which has been so successful; but your pride may be tinged with concern, when you realize that people in other countries may not want to use the language in the same way that you do” (694). Not only would people resent having to learn English, but also native English speakers would have an expectation for how English should be used. If other speakers did not meet the expectation, it would cause judgment to be passed. However, like MM24, I think a global language could benefit the global economy because it would eliminate language barriers.

    Like Kincaid, I know if I were forced to adopt another culture’s customs and or/language, I would be hesitant and fear losing the language and customs that make up my own culture. A global language could encourage the deterioration of other languages, but could benefit global communication. I do not think I can officially decide on whether or not language would be a positive or negative thing for our world… Who gets to decide what language it is? Why is that language superior over others? How will we enable all people to learn this global language so they can use it to operate successfully within our world?

  4. lmwb53013 says:

    I think that if English were to become our global language many people would resonate with Jamaica Kincaid’s mentality. I also think that native speakers of the global language could appear prejudiced towards the non-native speakers. Non-native speakers should not be made to feel as if they “[are] incomplete, or without substance, and [do] not measure up” (Kincaid 374). However, I think that some of these possible feelings of disdain could be eliminated if both the English language and the other native language were valued equally on a cultural level, much like we previously discussed in relation to languages in the classroom. Allowing other languages to peacefully exist and celebrating the various cultures that would still exist (by continuing to recognize holidays, practices, and ways of life) would help those transitioning to the global language of English to feel valued and connected to their native culture.

    Like MM24, I wonder where the money would come from to teach English to the world. Also, how would we go about teaching the culture and history of the English language to these people? Understanding the culture of native English-speakers has a lot to do with the history of the language and its people. Would we have to teach all of these global English speakers about the history of England, the United States, or other countries? This seems both time-consuming and expensive. However, like MM24 and KT@Pitt, I believe that with English as the global language, language barriers would be broken down, which would improve the global economy. If I was forced to learn and accept as my own a new culture and a new language, I would feel alienated and undervalued. I would not want to let go of the language and other things that I had become accustomed to over the course of my life. However, I believe that a global language could be a positive thing for our world if the non-native speakers of the global language were allowed to still practice their own culture and language, rather than being forced into replacing their own culture with the global language culture, which is what I believe DRSEUSS is questioning in this post.

  5. blogposter2012 says:

    English becoming our global language would definitely not only be a language statement, but a cultural statement. Jamaica Kincaid’s feelings toward English are ones that I think many non-English speakers feel if they are forced to learn and use a language other than their native tongue. So I think that although we may feel that is reasonable for English to be our global language that those who have a different native language may feel the exact opposite.

    I partially agree with KT@Pitt in saying that a global language would help with eliminating language barriers in the global economy. However, I think it is not as useful if you do not possess the cultural capital within that situation. Cultural capital is needed to be able to see how people’s values, traditions, or even language can help with being a form of exchange for other capital. For example, the tuna trade is large in Japan and has a lot more value than in America, so for an American fisherman participating in this global market to make profit they need to have some idea of the cultural aspects applied to tuna in Japan. Tuna and the way it is prepared can be said to have a connection to Japanese identity. If someone in the market does not recognize this they may not be as successful. With this being said, when we create English as a global language yes it is helpful in talking to people, but does it really bring us closer in understanding what other cultures value in terms of commodities. Language is a start, but then I think as lmwb53013 begin to discuss we need to definitely be aware of the cultural aspect of it. I think that a global language that is not brought upon through coercion but through people circulating the language and learning it themselves can be positive. I also think that it should not have a label because by labeling stigmas rise.

  6. jen-nay. says:

    In agreement with Sushi, I am not quite sure how people would respond to English becoming a global language. I believe that many would have the same negative opinion like Kincaid and develop a great hatred for this language that they are being forced to now speak and be engulfed by. Kincaid states that she was forced to keep her “nose pressed up against a glass window” looking at the life she was supposed to be a part of even though it felt wrong to her (369). However, I believe that others may not respond to this change so negatively. Like Crystal says, English has already reached that stage where it has the potential to become a global language because “about a quarter of the world’s population is already fluent or competent in English” (697). I think that most people today recognize that English is an important language to know, so if they are now forced with having to learn it, it will give them the opportunity to learn it when they might not have had the motivation or resources to do so before.
    If I were forced to learn a new language and change my way of life to mirror another culture, I would probably respond similar to Kincaid. Having to change to way I eat, dress, and speak would be extremely difficult and would make me feel imprisoned, like my personal opinions didn’t matter. Like Kincaid and myself, I believe that a majority of the people would feel this way and a global language would create a lot of tension across the globe. Even though English is spoken around the world and is becoming more and more effective in creating this common way of communication, I think that people should be able to choose whether they want to speak it or not, and if they choose to do so, they should be given the necessary resources.

  7. Pitt88 says:

    After reading Kincaid’s article, I gained an insight of how individuals may feel about learning a language or culture that does not pertain to them. However, I find Kincaid’s article to be extreme and think other mentalities would shed a different light on this issue. Other people who are essentially “forced” to learn the English language and culture may find it beneficial and appreciate that they were given the chance to master it. I do not believe that this would create tension for our global economy, but rather a way to unite the world through communication. Of course, there will always be people like Kincaid who have strong opinions towards the issue, but ultimately, I think they will be satisfied when they can proudly speak different languages.

    If I were forced to learn about a culture and language besides my own, I would be excited! Being given the resources necessary to master a new language, in my opinion, would be a dream come true. Like MM24 said, I would enjoy being forced to learn a new language, but this may be because we are college students with an open mind to learning. If I had free time to learn a new language, I would have a positive attitude, unlike Kincaid, strive to master the language and maybe even visit that country someday!

    By having a global language, we would be able to have a unified form of communication, which would certainly have a positive on the world. This is not to say that every single person in the world must speak English, and only English, but rather that we should all be willing and encouraged to master many different languages. The world would still be extremely diverse, but in the end, we would all have one thing in common: the English language!

  8. KateG says:

    Like MM24 I believe that a lot of Kincaid’s dislike for England was grounded in the fact that Antigua was colonized by England and in turn the slave trade began. She was upset by the fact that her family was named by the same people who caused the slave trade. I think that if English became a global language, others may have some dislike for the culture, country, etc simply because people have to adopt something that is not their own. If I were someone who had to learn everything about English in addition to the language, I would not exactly be thrilled. I would wonder why another language, culture, etc was so much more superior than my own. Like lmwb53013, I believe these tensions may be somewhat alleviated if the impression was given that both cultures were considered equal. Leveling the playing ground will help people see the benefits of learning English, such that it may give them an advantage in the job market, rather than the idea that they must lose their identity.

    I think that in some aspects, having English as a global language will enable stronger political ties because every person will have a commonality. I also think having this global language will help businesses and trade because people will have more effective communication. On the other hand though, because of the tensions that may resonate with people, political ties may be weakened. Thus, I believe the state of the global economy depends heavily on the mentality of everyone.

    Lastly, like sushi, I am not completely sure about whether or not having a global language will be more beneficial or detrimental. I believe the biggest issue with having a global language is Crystals idea of linguistic death. He states that, “Language is a major means…of showing where we belong, and of distinguishing one social group from another, and all over the world we can see evidence of linguistic divergence rather than convergence” (709). Before we implement a global language, it is my opinion that we must ensure that people will not lose their identity’s. If we can do this, some of the positives may outweigh the negatives.

  9. tcs32 says:

    If English were to become our global language, I think that there could certainly be some who would oppose this idea. However, I do not think that all people would respond quite as negatively as Jamaica Kincaid did. As some previous posts have mentioned, people definitely feel culturally tied to their own languages, and may resent being pulled away from them in order to facilitate a global language. While those who are comfortable with English may have an easier time facilitating to a global language, cultures that are far removed from English, may resent the forced change.
    I agree with MM24’s ideas about how a global language could positively affect the global economy. As she mentioned, having a global language could allow better communication among people, who, without the global language, would have quite a difficult time communicating with each other through their respective languages. Breaking down these language barriers, as KT@Pitt says, could be very advantageous to our global economy.
    However, despite the potential advantages of creating a global language, I am not entirely sure that it would be a very good idea. Though I do not think that everyone would have as much of a struggle as Kincaid did with learning a new language, there is always the possibility that those being forced to learn English as a global language will show a great deal of disdain, as we saw from Kincaid in her article. In addition, there are factors such as the costs of learning a new language that need to be considered before such a huge change is made.

  10. muskoka1 says:

    If English became the global language, feelings towards it from those who would have to learn it could go in two directions. As Sushi mentioned, there is a big difference between learning English and being forced to learn it and to worship it as Jamaica Kincaid did. If people learned English, but were not forced to assimilate to the culture that is associated with the language, those people would most likely not feel too negatively towards English. However, if people were forced to learn English and forced to BE English, they would have a negative disposition towards it. As Kincaid noted in her article, “The reality of my life was conquests, subjugation, humiliation, enforced amnesia” (369). The words she used in this sentence denote negativity encompassing her feelings towards English. This sentence alone explicitly summarizes her article’s tone towards remembering what it felt like to be force-fed a language that was at such odds with her own culture. Kincaid’s experience would most likely match other people’s experiences if English became the global language and was forced upon its students.

    Obviously, much of this depends on individual attitudes, and I cannot speak for the entire world. Personally, if say, French became the global language and I had to learn French and its culture, I would probably enjoy it. I think I am biased though because I’ve grown up in a middle-class household, always knew I’d go to college, and aspired to achieve a higher education. I desire to be a well-rounded individual, ever expanding my cultural and lingual horizons because I was brought up with this attitude. Therefore, I think I’d be more welcoming to a new language than others.

    As for our global economy, this is a tough question because there are pros and cons in this list. A pro would be that the language barriers would indeed be broken, making communications flow easily. However, it is my opinion that some of the opposing culture would be lost within the global language. This could lead to unrest and hatred such as Kincaid’s strong dislike of England and all things English. This leads to whether a global language would be positive or negative. I’m not really sure what the answer is to that; however, if there is one thing I can say, I think it’d be more on the positive side. As David Crystal said in his article, “If there is one predictable consequence of a language becoming global language, it is that nobody owns it any more” (694). I think this is pertinent because if there is no ownership over a specific language, in theory, a superior attitude of one person will be nonexistent.

  11. mlhuxta says:

    I am under the impression that a global language does not necessarily have to be stated as “The Global Language”. We see this because English already is widely recognized around the world, and in some contexts could be referred to as The Global Language. I believe that the combination of English being so widespread and English-speakers not finding it pertinent to learn foreign languages led to resentment from some foreign language speakers. As discussed in class Monday, as English speakers, and specifically Americans, we are not overly concerned with learning another culture’s language because we ignorantly assume that wherever we travel there will be accommodations.

    In the context of this question though, I believe that officially establishing the global language as English would certainly lead to complications. How can the entire world exult one language when there are over a thousand to choose from? This idea is both ethnocentric and degrading to other cultures. Tension would inevitably occur, especially between the country who’s language is “The Global Language” and a country that has been totally disregarded and forced to learn English.

    Especially after reading Kincaid’s article, I am frustrated with how the English people colonized and pushed their ideas onto a group of people. Forcing someone to conform to your belief is both egotistical and domineering. In Kincaid’s article she questions, “Who were these people?”(374). This is exactly what I would do in her situation. I’d be question who these people think they are by implementing a “Global Language,” exulting one culture and language, while leaving the rest of us who speak a different language and practice different cultures feeling worthless.

    Having an official Global Language would result in not only language acquisition but also cultural acquisition. Where we see and appreciate great diversity in our world today, I believe conformity would quickly replace diversity if a Global Language were to be implemented.

  12. darkknight5 says:

    I think the mentality of those being forced to learn English would be split between those who feel as though Jamaica Kincaid does, and those who would be willing and happy to learn the English language. If English were to become a global language, the world would be a much different place, in my opinion. Many people who would be forced to learn English would resent the idea, like Kincaid expresses that she did in her article, “On Seeing England for the First Time.” These people would feel angry for “worshiping” those who did harm to their people in many cases (ex: slavery). This anger would often times, in my opinion, boil over into much more, including wars and strikes. People would be so against the idea of having to learn English and about the English language that they would go as far as to physically harm others so that they would not have to learn about a culture that isn’t their own. The number one thing many people value is their family values and cultures, which would, in large part, be thrown away if they were forced to learn English, since language is the biggest part of culture that is passes from generation to generation. These people would most likely have to pay for their own English education, which would infuriate them even more. For much of the world, I do not think English as a global language would go over very well.

    Other people would handle English becoming a global language much better. Many people would be thrilled to finally be given the opportunity to learn English. A lot of people from third world countries would love the opportunity to learn what they believe is the language of the rich, English. Many people wouldn’t mind dropping much of their culture to learn English, and would enjoy every moment of learning this new language, although it would be very difficult to do.

    With the world divided amongst those who would want to learn English and those who would not, the global economy would suffer. Countries would be more at war than they are now because of the tension that would be created if English were established as the global language. If everyone was forced to learn English, those countries who previously spoke English would most likely be attacked by those who are being forced to learn English, and this would not end well, an idea the “Sushi” in their blog post as well. Although I see where “MM24” is coming from, I do not agree with the fact that he/she mentions, “It would enable partnerships and relationships between countries that were not possible before because of language barriers,” because we can already communicate with every other country by using translators and other methods. With that being said, I do not thing establishing a global language would be a good idea whatsoever, unless it was slowly, and I mean slowly established this way.

    If I were forced to learn another language I would most likely feel the same way as Jamaica Kincaid did. I would not feel comfortable learning another language completely, just because I have never been around other languages besides English, and this change would be very drastic. When things change a lot, especially when they deal with understanding others (language) I do not like them very much, and the changes often catch me off guard. Also, learning about a culture besides my own would be very awkward due mainly to the fact that it wouldn’t pertain to me at all, and in many ways would most likely go against what I have already learned. Much of the stuff would give an opposing or different view on the same things I have already learned here in America, which would be hard to get used to. Overall, I would not feel comfortable learning about a culture, and especially not a language besides my own.

  13. Fay Mousse says:

    Jamaica Kincaid’s evident disdain for the English language and culture can be felt best when she says, “Their skins were so pale, it made them look so fragile, so weak; What if I had the power to simply banish them from their land, send boat after boatload of them on a voyage that had no destination and force them to live in a place where the sun’s presence was a constant?” (379). Kincaid goes on to say that this would rid “them” of their pale complexion and make them look like her and her people and there would be no power barrier between them. If English were to become a global language I think that many people would have this mentality. People honor and value their heritage, culture, and homeland. When anyone is forced to do something that they do not want to do there is almost always resentment and bitterness. This tension would create an unstable global economy tainted with animosity.

    I personally would feel angry and hostile if I had to abandon my roots and culture and adopt not only an entire culture, but an entire language that belonged to someone else. While we can’t deny the positive effects of a global language, I think that it is wrong to force people to adopt our culture and language system just so it is easier for others.

  14. jvdub says:

    If English were to become the global language, I do think people would have a negative mentality about it. It would be forcing people to give up an important part of themselves and an important part of their culture. The way you speak is who you are. This would make people resent all English speakers and cause them to be uncooperative. Global tensions would rise and the English speakers would be the ones to take all the blame. I feel like massive revolts would break out because no one likes giving up their individuality and cultural values. I know if I was being asked to study another language and culture it would not only be extremely difficult, but it would feel wrong and weird deserting all my old customs. Being a very rebellious person, I could see myself strongly disagreeing with a worldwide movement such as this. I think in theory that having a global language is a good idea, but in actuality it would be extremely difficult to execute. It also would be a big problem because it is imposes on peoples’ personal lives. Who are we (English speakers) to tell people of other languages how they should talk and what they should practice. The languages you use and speak every day and for your whole life should be a personal choice and not governed by others.

  15. csmith292 says:

    Like so many others who have commented on this post, it seems certain that if English were to become a global language, some would take on Jamica Kincaid’s mentality; however, because she her tension toward the English was great, it is probable that a great many people would also embrace the change. A global language would facilitate partnerships between more countries, and international travel would not come with the burden of language barriers.

    It would be exceedingly difficult to not only fund such a major change, but to also get the world to agree. To learn a global language is to in some ways abandon tradition. If English were to become a global language, other languages would surely die out over time, as English would at some point become the language of preference. The amount of languages that are dying out due to the power of English⎯and other languages⎯ is increasing at a rapid rate. To abandon language is to abandon culture⎯and surely most of the world will not want to give up their ways of living and prospering so that the world can be united by language. As I have mentioned in previous posts, English is sort of the unofficial official language of the United States; if it is not even the official language of the US (where English is most widely spoken) then why would one think that the entire world could come to agreement on the issue of “official” language.

    If I were to be forced into learning another culture and another language, I think I would take enjoyment out of it; however, I would certainly not wish to abandon my ways of living. For example: I went to Spain my junior year of high school without knowing much Spanish. I was immersed in the different culture and was forced to speak the language. I was there for 3 weeks, and while I had an amazing time in Spain, I looked forward to returning home to my traditional food and everyday customs. So I don’t think it would be fair to force people⎯much less the entire world⎯to become accustomed to the English language and cultures behind it.

    Therefore, I think that having English as a global language would be an overall negative thing; the negativities greatly outweigh the benefits.

  16. ALS178 says:

    I feel as though globalizing English would create a tough situation just because most people are very culturally connected with their language and it would be extremely frustrating for them to learn. I realized when I took Spanish classes since middle school that I never felt a full connection with the Spanish language. As much time as I would put in to learning the language I never fully grasped it and I predict that this would be the same scenario for most non-English speakers. It would be very exhausting learning another language and not being allowed to have a say in what language you want to speak.
    Kincaid felt as though she was worshiping the country instead of enjoying it. I think that this will mentality would definitely resonate if English became gloablized. For example, in Ngugi’s article “Decolonizing the Mind” he states “In Kenya, English became more than a language: it was the language, and all the others had to bow before it in deference.” In this case globalizing English would make people feel like they are loosing a part of themselves and becoming something they are not. People associated English with America as the main language spoken. In Kincaid’s article she states, “England was a special jewel all right, and only special people got to wear it. The people who got to wear England were English people.” In the case of globalizing English, like Kincaid, most people will feel as though they do not belong and that only Americans are allowed to wear English.
    On a different note, I think globalizing English would have it’s pros and cons for the economy. It would help out with the language barrier among different countries but also there would be some tension between countries who do not want to be forced to learn an entire language that is not theirs.
    It would be hard to learn another language but I feel as though it would be an interesting thing to become accustomed to. I’ve always wanted to become fluent in another language and become enriched in their culture so I wouldn’t mind having to learn a whole different language. I see both globalizing English as both a positive and negative effect for the world because everyone’s mentality is different. Some will not want to learn a whole different language because they are so closely connected to their culture and some, like me, would enjoy learning a different language other than my own.

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