Globalization of English, a Bane or a Boon?

Topics: Linguistics, Culture, Sociolinguistics Pages: 5 (1678 words) Published: September 9, 2013
Globalization of English, a Bane or a Boon?
A Discussion on its Effect on Language Diversity and Cultural Identity In a globalized world, English, as a lingua franca, has spread and used widely across the globe. The worldwide spread of English is considered as a great threat to language diversity and cultural identity, and also as a bane of language death. I agree that the globalization of English affects adversely on language diversity, and that English hegemony brings some adverse impacts on cultural identity. However, to some extent, English also provides convenience or brings a boon to the development of international cultural exchange as a tool or media of communication. Nevertheless, the linguistic imperialism and attendant cultural penetration should not be overlooked.

The spread of English, in a global context, has an adverse impact on language diversity. It would be too arbitrary to attribute the loss of language diversity to the worldwide spread of English,but it is definitely one of the major factors. Nowadays,English has been doubtlessly the most popular and influential language of the world. It can be found ranging from a bag of potato chips to a speech before the General Assembly of United Nations. English, a minor language four centuries ago, has become the dominant language of international communication in the world today. This remarkable development is ultimately because of British successes in capitalism, colonization and trade, but it reaches its peak with the advent of the United States as the dominant military and economic power, also technological leader since World War II (Troike 1977:2). There is also a trend towards that other international languages have been marginalized due to the global spread of English in recent centuries with the expansion of Anglo-American power. In the other words, English, as the leading language has limited the development of other international languages such as Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, etc. Phillipson (2001), in his article ‘English yes, but equal language rights first’, argues that the European Union's bid to create unity will remain an ideal without a better policy on languages. He points that although the 11 official languages of the 15 member states of the European Union including Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish seem to have equal rights all as official and working languages of the European Parliament and the Commission in Brussels, there still many languages in Europe having no EU rights, and English has gradually established its monopoly position during globalization. “The advance of English reflects American commercial, political and military might, the impact of Hollywood, CNN and McDonald's” (Robert, 2001). Furthermore, in several member states, English is widely used no longer just as a foreign language, but as a corporate language or daily language used internally in many fields by many EU citizens. “The market forces that are propelling English forward impact on the vitality and viability of other languages” (Phillipson, 2001). Phillipson(1986, 1988, 1993) explores the contemporary phenomenon of English as a world language and sets out to analyze how and why it became so dominant in his series of books. He comes up with the notion of "English linguistic imperialism" to critique the global promotion of English by Britain and America. English education in some countries can block local students to further improve their mother tongues, which threat the exits of their native languages. It is a fact of academic and working life for many Chinese students or office staffs. There are kinds of grade test of English such as College English Test Brand 4 and Brand 6(CET4 and CET6) to examine their abilities of English, which will perhaps determine their graduation and promotion. Phillipson(1993) also believes that the global spread of English is...
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