The Effects of A Global Language (Blog Post #8 Option 2 out of 3)

In his article, “Why a Global Language?”,   David Crystal argues that “within little more than a generation, we have moved from a situation where a world language was a theoretical possibility to one where it is an evident reality”.  He continues on to say “…all the signs suggest that this global language will be English”.  Do you agree with Crystal that English will be the global language? If not, what language do you think it could be? Why? How would having any global language affect your daily life?  Also, in your opinion, do the pros Crystal mentions outweigh the cons, or vice versa?

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9 Responses to The Effects of A Global Language (Blog Post #8 Option 2 out of 3)

  1. Numeroff says:

    Although Crystal suggests that English will be the global language, I believe that Spanish is becoming a more prevalent and powerful language daily. In the very first power point of this class Professor Vee showed us a chart which listed the most common languages in the world, Spanish (ranked 4th) only fell one place behind English in this chart. The ranking shows just how prevalent the language is throughout the world. In fact, Crystal mentions in his discussion about awareness of foreign languages that the USA and UK are now more aware of Spanish by stating “(Spanish) which, in terms of mother-tongue use, is growing more rapidly than English” (Crystal 707). This statement is very contradicting to his argument that English will be the overall global language.
    The presence of Spanish in my hometown is another reason I am led to believe that Spanish will become the Global language if any language ever does. The Spanish language in the town in which I was born and raised has become more and more common each year. About a quarter of the population of the local school district is Hispanic and it is not uncommon to hear Spanish spoken throughout the town in grocery stores, schools, etc.
    Having any global language would greatly affect my daily life, even if that language was English. I am so used to interacting with other languages on a daily basis that to go without this interaction is almost a foreign concept. Crystal talks about the other side of the argument for the need for a global language stating that “people tend to underestimate the role of identity” (Crystal 709). In my opinion different languages are what make the world so unique and exciting. We would not be as interested to travel all over the world if the world were a bland uniform place. I believe that the cons of a global language greatly outweigh the pros. Death of languages is a serious con and alone outweighs the cuts in funding that the world could make if a global language existed. Technology can and is constantly being updated to accommodate communication between languages; however there is no way to revive a language that has been killed off.

  2. shmannybumbah says:

    I feel that if there were a global language it would be English. He defines global status as “when it develops a special role that is recognized in every country.” (695) He does this after mentioning how widespread and often we find English making headlines in other countries. 1.5 billion people in this world speak English, which is more than any other language. However, I am hesitant to believe it would become the official language of the entire world.

    I don’t believe that everyone would accept it. I cannot even conceive going to a foreign country and having everything printed in English, everyone speaking it fluently and nobody rejecting it. There are different languages that people hold true to their heritage. It is highly unlikely that all countries would accept English and drop their own culture. David Crystal states that “A language has traditionally become an international language for one chief reason—the power of its people.” (599) But who is to say that people would not reject this idea? Who is to say that it would not bring mass chaos and warfare from country to country?

    The fact that he mentions machine translation and our ability to speak to foreign language speakers easily with technology leads me to believe there will not be one, singular global language. I agree that English is widespread and is growing rapidly. However, I do not see the need for a global language. We have the resources to communicate with foreign countries; why should we make them conform to our language? The idea Crystal puts forth makes sense, but I do not see it as a reality.

  3. TwentyThree says:

    I agree with Crystal, if a global language were to emerge within the next few generations it would most likely be English. I may just be an ignorant American, but English seems to be a relevant and accepted language throughout the world. Even though for me English appears to be the obvious choice, I am not sure there will ever be a global language or if it is even necessary. Crystal mentions how “In certain countries, the question of whether the special status should be legally recognized is a source of considerable controversy-notable, in the USA…”(696) A language becomes international because of its people, and so far the people of the United States are not acting in favor of a global language.
    I am not sure that having English as the global language would greatly affect my everyday life. I am a born and raised native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My parents are from Pittsburgh and their parents are from Pittsburgh or at least the greater Pittsburgh area. English has always been the most prominent language in my life. With the exception of my great grandparents speaking a verbal mixture of English and Russian, I have had very little experience communicating with other languages. The thing that would most likely change would be the attitudes of the people forced to accept this change. I agree with shmannybumbah, it is hard for me to believe that this idea would not be rejected and in turn cause mass chaos throughout the globe.
    I do not believe the pros outweigh the cons. Like numeroff, the death of other languages seemed to be most critical to me. I, like many others, take languages and the culture they bring for granted. A global language would create a society of uncultured and uninteresting people.

  4. mmmk says:

    Whether I like it or not English, if it is not already, will be the global language. In most places you can find an English speaker. In most airports around the world not only are most signs printed in the native language and English but the announcements are made in English. As an English speaker you can life your whole life and travel without ever learning another language, while non-English speakers typically have to learn multiple their languages from their own including English. While I don’t think it is right for English speakers to expect everyone to learn their language without ever having to compromise and learn someone else’s language it is the reality of the world. Even as Americas economic power fades, Britain rises, and even as our economic power declines major Indian companies are still speaking English. As English speakers our daily life would not change at all except we will continue to become worse and worse with second languages in my opinion. When Looking at Crystals pros and cons I do not think own out ways the other but rather that both are truths we must recognize when looking at a global language. We must recognize that English has risen out of historic technological, industrial, and military power while some may view those aspects as negative and others as positive they are truths of the soon to be, or arguably already existing, global language.

  5. Supernova says:

    After reading Crystal’s article, “Why a Global Language?”, I agree that if we were to have a global language, that it would be English. As Crustal stated, “It may take a militarily powerful nation to establish a language, but it takes an economically powerful one to maintain and expand it,” (700). I believe this holds true for English, since both America and Britain have a powerful military presence and are both economically rich countries. Also, English is either spoken fluently or can be comprehended in about a quarter of the world’s population (697). These are just a few of the reasons why I believe English would become the global language.
    Since English is my first language, having it become the official language of the world would not change my daily life. Just like TwentyThree, I am a native Pittsburgher who was raised by English speaking parents and grandparents. I also agree that many people would not accept English as the global language as shmannybumbah said. I have traveled to other countries and did not have to learn other languages, because they all spoke English or at least comprehended it. However, there were times when I could sense them becoming irritated when I could not understand what they were saying. This experience would probably become more prominent if English was made the official global language, because it could make others feel that their language is not as valuable and the burden is being put on them to communicate.
    In my opinion, Crystal’s pros do not outweigh the cons of having a global language. I feel this way because different languages and cultures make the world an interesting and diverse place. The death of languages could also lead to the death of expression and cultural identity if everyone is concerned with learning just one.

  6. mnathani says:

    David Crystal in his article, “Why a Global Language?”, boldly asserts that English will eventually become the global language. While many of my peers believe that this claim about English will come to fruition, others, including myself, believe that English will not become the global language for several reasons. The first reason is based growth of other languages, as Numeroff suggested. Spanish is another language that is widely known, and it is continuing to spread.
    English is already spoken by a vast amount of people across the globe, but there is a major issue created if everyone in the world is expected to speak English. Other countries and groups of people look down upon English speakers and would rather hold on to their customs. How practical is it to teach everyone in the world English when we can even offer clean drinking water to everyone in the world? There are tribes all over the world that are isolated from the rest of the world, and it would be nearly impossible to make them learn English if they did not want to. There is always going to be differences between people based off of their surroundings, and as we have learned from other readings as well, people create new and different words based off of their environment, so even if everyone spoke some sort of English, it would differ greatly from each country because of the physical separation and the needs of the people. Even if there was a way to teach everyone in the world English, it would quickly change into different dialects and maybe even again into different languages.

  7. BonitaApplebaum says:

    I can’t help but agree with some of my other classmates on whether or not English would become the global language if one were ever established. Considering the number of English speakers across the globe and its political effects as a communicative device, presumably, English would become the lingua franca. However, I question whether or not English should be the global language or if we should even have a global language at all. I understand the political benefits, but on another hand, the benefits are strictly political and governmental. Crystal mentions no advantages of a global language for the common everyday world citizen. In fact, the creation of a lingua franca directly effects individuals in negative ways. I agree with mnathani on the point that many other countries and groups of people look down on English speakers and particularly the American English language. A global language might force vast amounts of people to learn and speak a language that they despise. I also believe that language is uniquely and intimately tied to culture. When I think of the French language, I cant help but think of outdoor cafes, berets, and the Eiffel Tower. Similarly when I consider American English, I think of American culture. Non-English speakers may feel that a lingua franca is a demolition of their culture and national identity. Conversely, if I were required to learn and fluently speak German as an American, I would feel stripped of the very thing that makes me American. In a situation where the losses outweigh the gains, I think it’s best to adhere to what already is.

  8. jay_leu says:

    In his article, “Why a Global Language?” David Crystal claims that if a global language were to emerge within the near future it would be English. He offers support by stating, “[Current statistics] suggest that about a quarter of the world’s population is already fluent or competent in English, and this figure is steadily growing—in the early 2000s that means around 1.5 billion people. No other language can match this growth” (697). Based upon this quote, as well as previous encounters I have had in life, I would tend to agree with Crystal. English truly is everywhere. For example, when I traveled to Italy just a few years ago, I recall seeing magazines written in English at one of the many corner stands. I also remember we encountered English-speaking natives almost everywhere we went. I found this to be somewhat remarkable.
    If English ever were to become the global language I honestly don’t think it would make my life much different. I personally do not speak a second language, and neither do any of my friends. Therefore, I haven’t really had much exposure to foreign tongues. English is all I have ever really known.
    With this being said, however, I do not necessarily believe that the cons of having English, or any other language for that matter, as a global language outweigh the pros. My main reason for holding this opinion is that mandating a global language would eliminate the opportunity for people to develop and maintain individual identities, as well as deep cultural bonds. Crystal states, “Language is a major means of showing where we belong, and of distinguishing one social group from another…” (709). Because I feel so strongly about human needs and desires, I firmly believe that having a global language would do more harm than good.

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