English Language and Its Global Usage

English drawing on communities where English is used as the national language and the way English is used around the world

There are various definitions pertaining to English, and they all depend on various distinct factors. Consequently, English can be defined in reference to where it is used as a national language and the way it is used around the world. The use of English as an international language is subject to various external factors that have henceforth removed it from its origins (Crystal 18). In the modern world, English is variously used as a national language. Current estimates indicate that English is spoken by approximately two billion people around the world. Out of all these English users, some are native speakers. Others use it a second language, and while the rest speak it as a foreign language.

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A definition of English in places where it is used a national language can take several forms. First, in most of these societies, English is the first language for many individuals. A language is also a tool of identity for the people who speak it (Kachru 23). For instance, national language English speakers in the United Kingdom identify with British English, including its dialects, accents, and varieties. English can also be defined as a second language for people who reside in countries that use it as a national language. For instance, in India, English is the national language, although most individuals only speak it as a national language after their own mother tongues. English as a second language is often subject to various variations, but the most common ones are accent and dialect.

English in the manner in which it is used around the world can also be defined as an international language. This definition relies on the global scope of the language. English, with respect to its definition as an international language, also contains elements of origin. For example, American English is used in other places around the world other than America. The same definition applies to British English that is also used in various places around the world, including some parts of Africa. English as an international language can apply in three spheres, as a mother tongue, as a colonial language, and as a foreign language.

The reasons why English is associated with technical and scientific communication

Since English became one of the most significant languages in the world, it has come to be associated with technical and scientific communication. Consequently, scientists and other technicians have often relied on English as the language that can accommodate their technical and scientific communications (Crystal 56). There are various reasons for this peculiar development. It is important to note that scientists and other technicians are spread out across the spectrum of global languages, including German, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, and Greek, among others (Jenkins 204). However, most of the new scientific terms that are coined today are engineered to fit into the English language. Furthermore, there have been various translations of ancient scientific publications into the English language.

As early as the 1900s, the concept of a universal scientific language appeared far-fetched to most people. Nevertheless, one century later, English has become the universal language for science. As late as the 1900s, English was by all assessments an ‘ordinary’ language. During this time, the assumption was that the language of the future was a mixture of French, English, and German (McArthur 14).

Latin was also a close contender in matters to do with science because it had already dominated religious communications. The main reason why English spontaneously became the scientific language was World War I. After the war, it became the norm for scientific conferences and symposiums to use English as the standard language (Jenkins 203). The tussle for linguistic supremacy pitted German on one side, and French and English on the other. In the end, English emerged as the superior language between the three owing to its regional and demographic dominance. English also rose to prominence as a result of the anti-German hysteria that occurred across the United States and some parts of Europe (Jenkins 206). By the time the anti-German hysteria was dying down in the late 1920s, English had already taken root as a ‘neutral’ and ‘legitimate’ language.

The reasons why English is associated with education and employment

English is often associated with education and employment around the globe, owing to its overall dominance. Globalization has brought about an environment of economic cooperation around the world. Consequently, all individuals across the world are partial global citizens who can contribute to global development. However, an individual’s fluency in the English language anywhere around the world is often associated with higher chances of employment (Graddol 43).

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The main reason behind this notion is that knowledge of the English language puts individuals at a point of advantage because he/she can effectively communicate easily. Therefore, employers are likely to go for the candidate who gives their organization a global appeal. Statistics also support the association of English language and high rates of employment (Macafee 68). Therefore, English exposes students to a wide range of jobs, both menial and technical in nature.

On the other hand, the English language’s association with high levels of education is a result of the fact that it opens up an individual to an infinite library of information (Graddol 58). For example, almost all of the world’s classical literature has been translated into English regardless of its point of origin. On the other hand, the language itself acts as a highway of information whereby its speakers can be able to advance their levels of knowledge to unprecedented heights. For instance, there is an online application that can translate almost all other websites into the English language, although the reverse provision is hard to achieve.

The extent to which English is open to change and the emergence of world Englishes

Before the emergence of the digital world and all its infrastructures, there was a real possibility of the emergence of ‘world Englishes.’ However, the digital age is closing the gaps between the various versions of the English language at a fast rate. For example, all English publications that are made in modern times are aimed to reach maximum audiences around the world (McArthur 4). This goal of maximum audiences has necessitated the need for conformation to the international standards of the English language. This scenario has made publications that are made in North America drop the aspects of the English language that are considered to be too ‘American’ in order to appeal to international audiences. On the other hand, European speakers are accommodating American English more than before.

Consequently, even though it was thought that various ‘world Englishes’ are going to emerge, it is now more likely that these languages will merge to form a universal version of the English language. The merging of the English language will be made possible by both globalization and the digital information highway (McArthur 4). Therefore, the changes that will happen within the English language are not likely to lead to various versions of the English language but one dominant version that can be consumed by the over two billion English speakers around the world.

Works Cited

Crystal, David. English as a global language, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Print.

Graddol, David. English next, London: British Council, 2006. Print.

Jenkins, Jennifer. “English as a lingua franca: Interpretations and attitudes.” World Englishes 28.2 (2009): 200-207. Print.

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Kachru, Braj. The other tongue: English across cultures, Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992. Print.

Macafee, Caroline. Varieties of English around the world, Glasgow, Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1983. Print.

McArthur, Tom. “World English and world Englishes: Trends, tensions, varieties, and standards.” Language Teaching 34.01 (2001): 1-20. Print.

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