Ãàâðèøêåâè÷ We seem to be witnessingthe process of English spreading over the world and becoming the global language. A press release from the British Council (1995) suggested that world-wide, there are over 1,4 billion people live in the countries where English has official status. One out of five of the world’s population speak English to some level of competence. English is the main language of books, newspapers, international business and academic conferences, technology, diplomacy, sport, international competitions, pop music and advertising.
The reasons for growing world supremacy of English
The growing world supremacyof the English language is caused by many linguistic and extralinguistic reasons, the latter being categorized into historical and sociopolitical ones:
- the colonial expansion of the British Empire, which was followed by American economic and technological hegemony
- richness of the English languages in monosyllables, capable of absorbing foreign words and its flexibilityin forming neologisms
- the vision of English by many people in the world today as a language of economic opportunity, one that will help to improve both their individual position and, because of the importance of English in international trade and technological research, to improve their countries' economy.
- world technological developments, economic globalization and improved communications. But this globalization of English may result in one very negative effect: it can be involved with the destruction of the world linguistic and cultural diversity. Besides, D.Graddal argues, that, according to some views, English is a language of economic opportunity only for a few: for the rest it created a new, global mechanism for structuring inequality both between the west and the rest and within the populations of non-western countries.
Ãóëüãóí The world need for a Lingua franka
The dream of a shared world language, which could act as a neutral vehicle of communication between peoples of different nationalities and interests, which could serve the purposes of science, diplomacy and commerce, has been a western dream since the European Renaissance. The international auxiliary language movement recognized a need for international lingua franka that did not economically or culturally privilege one country. A great number of artificial languages, as well as simplified variants of English were created, C.K.OgdenÒs Basic English (1920s/30s) being one of them. Its central idea was the identification of a limited vocabulary, of only 850 words, which could be used to express anything needed for general purposes of everyday existence - in business, trade, industry, science, medical work etc. However, there was an ambiguity in this project: was it really intended as a neutral lingua franka or merely as a means of promoting the position of natural English in the world?
From the late nineteenth century, and especially after the World War II, when the USA had materialized as a world economic force, natural English language began to be used by many speakers of other languages all over the world, its main rivals, French and German, being in no position to resist its rise.