The Future Status of English as a Global Language

September 25, 2017 Communication

Jill Chao 95501004 Professor Michael Cheng Writing and Reading (II) March 31, 2009 Argumentative Essay The Future Status of English as a Global Language-Now is No Forever! As an English major and a bilingual person, it’s hard to jump out of the box and deny the deep, great, far-reaching influence and outspread of English.

It seems true that English has become the universal language-the one accredited language to use in professional academic fields, the almost instinctive choice of language for people to speak in foreign countries, remarkably the none-English-speaking ones, and a universally basic personal asset to survive in the modern society. Yet to think of how English obtained its status quo as a world language and the uncertainty of its future, it would be too imprudent to say that English will still definitely be the global language in the future.

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Before further elaboration, it is necessary to clarify the phrase “the future status of English as a global language. ” Here, a global language is defined as a language that can be used in any part of the world for the purpose of communication. And the future status is supposedly considered as the status in the long term-not 2 or 5 years, but rather decades and centuries, because the future is an ongoing, unstoppable flow of time and shouldn’t be condensed into merely a few years to come.

People who believe that the future status of English as a global language is assured think so because, they say, English is already a dominant language now. Though it’s true, I believe it is important to understand how English, rather than Russian, Japanese or any other language, achieved its current position. In an article that explains how English got to its prominent place, “The World Language,” the question is clearly answered: “at first, because the British not only built a global empire but settled America, and now because the world (and notably America) has acquired its first truly global-and interactive-medium, the Internet. This explanation also demonstrates a very important idea: one language starts to thrive when the country gains prosperity and power. It is crucial to acknowledge that people around the world initially started to learn English largely because they wanted to build relationships and business with these powerful countries, here specifically the United States and earlier the British Empire. Later as more and more people followed suit and also through the helping push of the Internet, English now seems to be the most prevailing language in the world.

Worth-noticing, looking back into the history, a similar case was the flourishing of Latin and the Roman Empire. When the Roman Empire was in power, Latin was almost the global language. Yet with the collapse of the Roman Empire, Latin lost its supreme state and is now almost extinct. Although there’s no valid evidence to prove that the English-speaking countries, most of all the US, will lose their power in the future, there is always a possibility, and since we can’t be sure what will or will not happen, there is no way the future status of English as a global language can be assured.

Some people might argue that even if the English-speaking countries do become subordinate and other nations do rise, while other languages might begin to popularize, there is still no need to abandon the use of English since it’s already so generalized, so widely used and so predominant. Some also suggest that there may be more than one global language in the future; that English and other languages might co-exist as world languages and that people would become multi-lingual.

If this assumption stands its feet, we could perhaps presume that Latin would have survived and that we should still be able to communicate in Latin now since it was as widespread as English is now, yet it did decline and eventually vanish. As a matter of fact, what these statement-makers failed to take into consideration is once again the fundamental reason for a language to become popular. In short, if there is any chance that the currently powerful English-speaking nations decay, people will have less and less motive to learn English, and after a few generations, the number of English-users will decline greatly from now.

As a result, English might just be, if not replaced, less popular and far from global in the future. One other claim made by people who favor the idea of English being the global language of the future is that English itself, regardless of the economic and political power of the its countries, became so popular because it is easier than other languages, and therefore will be hard to replace. Unfortunately, this is also a flawed statement because there is not yet a valid method to determine whether one language is “easier” than another. Every language ystem is unique. One language may seem to have simpler grammatical rules but more complex writing system. Moreover, how difficult a second language is to a person may also depend on what his or her mother language is. For example, French might be generally considered easier for English-speakers than for Chinese speakers because French and English share many similar words and were both derived from Latin. Therefore, the argument of English assured to be the global language in the future because it is easy to learn is vulnerable and cannot be established.

In a word, although English seems to be a global language now, there is no efficient and effective proof or measure to be sure it will maintain or surpass its current status. First of all because no one can ever be certain about the future, and second because there is a certain possibility that other nations (the BRICs[1], for example) as well as their languages might in the future replace the leading place of the United States and other English-speaking countries as well as English. No matter how far-reaching English is now, with the uncertainty of the future and the fluidity of language, it might just someday decay as Latin did.

Therefore, I believe it is more adequate to say that the future status of English as a global language is not assured. After all, now is no forever. Works Cited Author unknown. (1999). The World Language. The Economist, Millennium Issue 31 Dec. 1999:85 ———————– [1] The BRICs: An acronym which refers to Brazil, Russia, India and China; the four nations that are economically fast growing. The term was first brought up and used by bank holding company Goldman Sachs in 2001.


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