[lg policy] Resistance may be futile: Are there alternatives to Global English?

Dennis Baron debaron at ILLINOIS.EDU
Sat Sep 24 03:49:09 UTC 2011


There's a new post on the Web of Language:

Resistance may be futile: Are there alternatives to Global English?

English is a world language. Once an insignificant set of immigrant dialects on an obscure island in the rainswept North Sea, English is now the de facto language of multinational business, of science and technology, and of rock ’n’ roll. Non-English speakers around the globe seem to be learning English as fast as they can. Plus there are more than three times as many English articles in Wikipedia as there are German, the second-biggest language of the online encyclopedia. When it comes to the global domination of English, resistance may be futile.

There have been world languages before, and though none of them, not Latin, French, or Proto-Indo-European, enjoyed the market share claimed by English today, all of them lost world-language status when the world’s political and economic situation changed.

Right now, though, the position of English remains strong. There are anywhere from 350 to 500 million native English speakers, and up to 1 billion more who use it as a second or additional language to some extent. That’s 20% of the world’s 6.9 billion people. There are close to 7,000 languages spoken around the world today, but according to Ethnologue, 39% of the Earth’s people speak one of eight brand-name languages: Chinese, Spanish, English, Arabic, Hindi, Bengali, Portuguese, and Russian (Japanese is number 9). Of these, only English can claim global dominance.

Read the rest of this post on the Web of Language: http://bit.ly/rmIdZU


____________________
Dennis Baron
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English                    
University of Illinois 
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801                                               

office: 217-244-0568
fax: 217-333-4321

http://www.illinois.edu/goto/debaron

read the Web of Language:
http://www.illinois.edu/goto/weboflanguage








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