English as a world language

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  • English as a world language
    • How popular is English
      • estimated number of proficient speakers is 1.5 billion.
      • English is an official language of the UN, EU and international Olympic committee and is the dominant language of around 75 territories.
    • How movement of English began
      • - Pioneering voyages to the Americans, Asia and the antipodes
      • - 19th century colonial developments in Africa and South pacific
      • - 20th century - adopted as an official or semi official language by many newly independent states. After the Empire's decline the USA's position as the largest economic power continued the usage of English to continue to increase.
    • Difficulty of English as a world language
      • - Difficult to find safe generalizations about the range of social functions with which English has come to be identified.
      • - Where it has status as a second or foreign language, and where its role is often defined by a conscious process of planning, and not by evolution.
      • Sociolinguistic generalization is a problem in countries where English is used as both a first and second language eg; Canada or where history of language contact has produced language conflict eg; India.
    • Why English?
      • Historical - The legacy of British or American imperialism, the countries main institutions may carry out their proceedings in English ie; government, civil service, law courts and schools, alongside published resources.
      • Practicality - English is the language of international air traffic control and is currently developing role in policing and emergency services. Intellectual - Most scientific, technological and academic information in the world is expressed in English. 80% of all the information stored in electronical retrieval systems in English. It is taught in places such as China, Poland, Greece and Japan who weren't even colonized or give English any official status or treatment in the country. v
      • Entertainment - English is the main language for popular music and associations with advertising. It's the main language of satellite broadcasting, home computers and video games. People claim it's more logical, easier to pronounce, simpler in grammatical structure, larger in vocabulary.
    • Three circles of English
      • Inner circle: refers to traditional bases of English, where it is the basis and primary language, include: UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
      • Outer circle: plays an important 2nd language role in a multilingual setting eg; Singapore and India.
      • Expanding circle: Involves nations which recognize the importance of English as an international language, they have not given the English any special status in their language policy eg; China, Japan, Israel, Greece and Poland.
    • Standard English
      • The oxford dictionary define Standard English as 'The form of the English language widely accepted as the usual correct form.' Tom McArthur 1992 'A widely used term that resists easy definition but it used as if most educated people nonetheless know precisely what it refers to.' Issues regarding the definition of Standard English have occurred on both a national and international level. At a national level, especially in the UK, the concern has focused on devising an acceptable national curriculum for English in primary and secondary education. At an international level, the focus has been on the question of which national standards to use in teaching English as a foreign language.
      • Features of Standard Englush
        • Variety of English: A distinctive combination of linguistic features with a particular role to play. Some refer to it as a dialect of English. There is nothing within the grammar or vocabulary within Standard English which tells us which country it comes from.
        • Linguistic features: It is important to note that SE is not a matter of pronunciation, it is spoken by many different accents, classes and countries.
        • Carries the most prestige in a country: 'Prestige' is a social concept, whereby people have high standing in the eyes of others. For example, people are judged differently dependant of their class, material success, political strength or educational background. The English that these people use will then by default become the standard within their communities. James Sledd proclaims that standard English is the 'English used by the powerful.'
        • Acknoweldgement:The prestige attached to SE is recognized by adult members of the community, motivating them to recommend it as their desirable educational target. It is the variety which is used as the norm of communication by the communities leading institutions (government, law courts, media etc) Therefore widely understood, although not to the same extent by everyone and with varying comprehension of its features.
        • Understood but not produced: Although it is widely understood it is not widely produced. Only a minority of people within a country use it when they talk. Most people speak a variety of regional English or a mixture of Standard English, regional Englishes and reserve labels such as BBC English, the Queen's English of RP. More than anywhere SE is found to be in prints.
      • World standard English: If we read the newspaper or listen to newscasters around the English speaking world we will quickly develop the impression that there is a 'World Standard English' unifying countries. Each country where English is a first language is aware of its linguistic identity and is anxious to preserve it from the influence of others. New Zealanders do not want to be Australians and Canadians do not want to be Americans... Americanism is perceived as a danger signal by guardians of languages. All other countries can be grouped into either American English, British English and those such as Canada where there is a mixture of language influences. The most distinctive differences between the Englishes is the variations on spellings. US spellings are creeping into usage in many countries now more than ever. But, we are still far from uniformity with English as one language across the globe. Lexical distinctiveness can be found when dealing with specialized terms in business, politics, culture, national history and in the 'domestic' columns of national newspapers. Grammatical distinctiveness exists most prominently between the UK and the US Englishes. 'Standard pronunciation' is useful in the international setting of English as a second or foreign language. The question of prestige is easy to determine at an international level because of different national histories which co-exist. It will take great time before the world sees a consensus and only time will tell whether this consensus will display the domination of a present day variety of English or the development of a new, composite variety yet to be seen.
    • Internationalism
      • Internationalism is one of the main issues which raises an immediate problem. It implies intelligibility. If the reason for any nation wishing to promote English to give it access to what the broader English speaking world has to offer, then it is crucial for it's people to be able to understand the English of that world and to be able to understand it in their turn. Internationalism demands an agreed standard of English in its grammar, vocabulary, spelling, punctuation and conventions of use.
    • Identification
      • Identity implies individuality. If a nation wishes to preserve its uniqueness or wishes to establish its presence and to avoid being an anonymous branch of English-speak, it must search for ways to express itself differently from the rest of the world. Nothing is more unique than a national language or a national variety of an international language. Identity demands linguistic distinctiveness in grammar, vocabulary, spelling, punctuation and conventions of language use.
    • Furure Of English
      • Prescriptivists have always worried: In late victorian period, estimates of English speakers in a century were very high. In Phonetic Journal (1873) a writer calculated that by 2000 the total would be over 1.8 billion. With the benefit of hindsight can be seen to be in error. Such commonplace in the heady atmosphere which accompanied the climax of British and American colonial expansion. By contrast they were the pessimists predicting that within a century English would be in fragments. Jacob Grimm said 'there is no other language more prone to emotional rhetoric or wild exaggeration than English.'
      • Drive for intelligibility
        • Pressure for this is unstoppable. Multinational co-operations have guaranteed a situation of daily contact for millions of English speakers who represent every major variety. A popular opinion is if using British English can sell goods and services then let British English be used. There is still some way to go before the world arrives at a uniform usage which will guarantee international at levels compatible to those found intranationally.
      • Drive for identity
        • The pressure to foster national identity is also very strong and the stigma are that divergence is increasing. It is inevitable that when English is in close contact with other languages it will adopt some of the characteristics. eg; rising intonations of Australian English.
        • Comparison between 2 drives: There may be a natural balance which the language will eventually acheive. A nationalistic climate may cause a variety to move in a particular direction away from its source standard but may then be pulled back when moderates within the community find it increasingly difficult to understand what is being said.
    • Threatening English
      • Fear of invasion: Seen as 'thin end of the wedge'. Linguistic history contains several examples of English supplanting other languages such as; Cornish and Manx but also this means that some languages like Gaelic and Welsh struggled to keep their identity. A negative reaction can take place from this as people become more conscious of the rights of minorities, particularly effecting smaller countries even if they have no English colonial history.
      • Association with colonial history: This has happened a lot in recent times. English can be rejected as an official language as in countries like Kenya, Tanzania and Malaysia, English Language was rejected as the main language spoken in those countries over the past century in order for the countries to feel like they have sole status over the English Language. This helps to show that the English Language can easily be threatened by other langauges.
      • Mutual language influences: Naturally as languages combine, new lexis are created. Despite having a fine history of borrowing from other languages, when other languages borrow from English, the local reactions is far less popular. People complain about the English language having an excessive influence on their language, sometimes going as far as legally legislating against it.
      • Examples
        • Broader Carstensen: There was a fivefold increase in the number of Anglicism in German newspapers during 1980's. Advertising copy writers have a likening for English technical vocabulary. One researcher analysed the frequency english loan words in German car advertising in 1987- 1990. In over 8458 pages analysed there were 7190 English nouns used in German advetising. The most common 5 words were all interestingly Japanese 'Mitsubishi, Nissan, Suzuki, Honda and Daihatsu'.
        • No surrender : 'The basis of any independent government is a national language and we can no longer continue aping our former colonizers... those who we feel like they cannot do without the English language pack up and go.' In Japan 1989, officials in Osaka, the largest city in the 'Kinki' district in Japan announced that 'Kinki' would no longer be used due to its connotations from overseas. English speakers can also be threatened by the substantial growth of immigrant languages in their country. Normally the process of immigration results in a language shift with 2nd and 3rd generations on non english speaking immigrants to adopt the language of their host state. However in the USA the growth of Hispanic speakers has prompted a major protectionist movement ensuing high controversy.


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