English has become a global lingua franca. It has the largest number of speakers and is the third most-spoken native language in the world after Standard Chinese and Spanish. English is often credited with uniting the globalised world and facilitating the cooperation of many people who do not share the same native language. However, is it possible that the sheer dominance of English on the world stage could be harming other languages? And does English facilitate interchanges which permit diversity?
English has become the default language in many fields. English dominates the world of technology and computing due to companies like Microsoft and Apple having a major impact on computing terminology. 32% of the internet is in English, and it can be seen globally on shop signs in addition to native languages. The global entertainment industry is also full of English content, with Hollywood taking billions of dollars each year. This means English is able to permeate many languages with ease. Globalisation has turned English into a central hub for language exchange.
Anglicisms have become very common in many languages. In Spanish instead of using the Spanish alternative “mercadotecnia” for “marketing” and “en línea” for “online” the English alternatives are often used. Further example, although the French and the English have been exchanging words for centuries, in the 20th and 21st century anglicisms have become increasingly more frequent. Words such as “brainstorming”, “email” and “manager” have made their way into the French language. Despite some resistance to many of the anglicisms that have entered the language, French continues to modernise and gain more English words. English loanwords have also increased in Japanese since strong diplomatic relations have been made with the west. Japanese speakers use loanwords such as “airport” and “stoic” which are written with Japanese characters.
However, it’s not just one-sided. English has also been affected by many languages. “Ballet” is a French loanword, and many of the words associated with the dance are taken directly from French. “Kindergarten”, a German word which literally means “children’s garden”, is used in many parts of the anglophone world. “Yin” and “yang” which come from Standard Chinese with “yin” representing dark and night-time and “yang” representing light and day-time, have come to represent any opposite in English. While English might be growing ever more dominant, it is also allowing new words to enter the language and absorbing new ideas.
Every language carries a part of human culture, identity, history and civilization; therefore, they should all be prized and maintained. While English continues to affect other languages and is influenced by other languages, no language should be sacrificed but all languages should continue to evolve and contribute to the global community.
Haller, M (2012), ‘The Influence of the English Language on Other Languages’