What makes a global language - Why is English a leading candidate

What makes a global language?

Why is English a leading candidate?

And will it hold this position?

A few years ago I travelled around Europe with a friend. Although we knew only a little French, we were able to travel with no problem. Everyone we encountered, with a few exceptions, spoke English. It was comforting to be able to communicate with others when we were lost, needed help or just wanted to talk. Personally, I think a universal language would benefit most people. I agree, however, that one should not replace native languages. Native languages are symbols of culture, the past and its people. From what we have learned so far in this class, I think a universal language would have maybe eliminated some othe oppression and subordination some peoples faced at the hands of colonizers.

Cheryl Fonda


Undoubtedly, the English language is a powerful tool and has been a dominant force in supressing the colonies during Imperialism. Fortunately,Pakistan ( my native country) which was under British rule did not let go of it's native language despite British influence. English remains the official laguage, but we have our own national language called Urdu, which is quite dominant.

Shandana Khanzada (Pakistan)

I guess from the heading of this posting that we would assume that english would be a great candidate for this universal language. I do feel that it might eliminate some tension if everyone had access to a certain universal language and couldn't be exploited as easily. However, most diplomats and such already speak english. It is the poor of every nation that don't have access to english education, so the hierarchy still continues. The universal language would cause exploitation of poor by the rich. The only difference is that it would not be a nation exploiting another but people of a nation exploiting there own countrymen.

Wesley Edwards

We as english speakers take a lot for granted when it comes to languages we are very self-centerd. In most countries English is taught beginning in grade school. Here we complain about the three year minimum required by most High Schools and UNC. True a universal language would make business and politics much easier, but each language carries much of a culture. If you have ever tried translating poetry from one language to another you know how words don't have exact translations and almost all subtelties are lost. Think about even within the English language each dialect ( southern, midwest, New England) has its own character.

Elizabeth Nelson

A universal language sounds great in theory but the work that implementing it would entail is overwhelming to say the least. I too have travelled to other countries and have felt very lucky when others know english and were able to help me.-Americans should really know other languages well considering the resources we have here, but the truth of the matter is that we do not. I think a universdal language would be more convienent but it would eventually wipe out certain difference among us that serve as positive vehicles for learning and experience.

Laura Sykes

Speaking from the other side of the coin, I would like to say that how hard it was for me to learn English. I had to go through five years of English in middle to high school to be able to speak at a decent level. It would have made my task so much easier if my mother tongue was English. No wonder people with English as their mother tongue find it easy to travel anywhere in the world and still have the same privilege and comfort of communication. Do you know that I cannot express my anger with people over here over a daily chore because I have to repeat myself to make my statements be understood properly: albeit effectively taking out the venom?

Other than the sole purpose of communication, I had to learn English because it was thought my education could never be fully accepted had I not studied Englsih diligently. Learning English well and to be able to speak with as little accent as possible is considered a prestigeous thing (if you come from a colonized part of the world). If you speak good Englsih, then you are never seen with the same pair of eyes.

Because of the history of colonization , English became widespread and I peronally don't see it as an evil because things were different in the distant past and somehow the bad things that happened came up with something good: the emergence of a language (Englsih in this case) as a global language. The bad part was our languages never gained a sense of respect remotely close to the other European languages because they were languages from the colonies!

I think Swahili is now an official language in the United Nations.

Tareq Arafat

I have always thought that the world would be a less confusing place if there was a universal language, and money, and everything else was the same all over the world. But who's to say which language would be the one we all must know. Since the Chinese are the largest country, we might be might all have to learn Chinese, and I wouldn't like that very much. And if everyone knew only one language, it would take away the opportunity for us to show off our abilty of being able to speak another language, and all of those Mexicans that lived in my apartment complex couldn't talk about me when I walk by because I would understand them.

Amanda Hearring

The real aim of colonialism was to control the people's wealth(but) economic and political control can never be complete or effective without mental control. To control a people's culture is to control their tools of self-definition in relationship to others. For colonialism, this involved two aspects of the same process: the destruction or the deliberate undervaluing of a people's culture, their art, dances, religions, history, geography, education, orature and literature, and the conscious elevation of the language of the coloniser. The domination of a people's language by the languages of the colonising nations was crucial to the domination of the mental universe of the colonised.

Ngugi wa Thiong'o

(extract from his famous essay on 'The language of African literature')

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