Friday, 26 June 2015

Glottal Stop or Globalisation

As discussed on a couple of occasions on this blog, it is something of a curse, as well as a blessing, to be a native born English language speaker. A blessing, because by it's by sheer number of speakers alone, it is one of the worlds lingua franca's, along with Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Hindi, and Arabic, but also because it is used worldwide, rather than being locked in one geographical location such as China, its dispersal means it is now the primary world lingua franca, either as the worlds most popular first, or second language.

English Is A Lingua Franca?

But its also a curse, in that as a native speaker the incentive to learn a second language is very low. The Anglo Saxon and Celtic stock of Eire, the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealander are not renowned for their facility in other languages ... and that must partly be laid at the door of the language comfort English gives you in much of the developed (and even third) world.

So whilst I can go to Germany, Russia or Japan, and find school children who can converse with me in a form of English, the visitor to any of the Anglo-Saxon or Celtic lands, will find that few speak their native tongue (excluding the 'ethnic areas' in the UK where a south Asian language may be the norm, or in the USA where Spanish is the language of many of the 'Latino' areas).

I am not going to add much new to the debate about the rights or wrongs of this side effect of the general 'worldwide globalisation', which even the mad mullahs can only slow with barbarism. But I was much taken with the information I gleaned recently, which is that some of the best teaching institutions in Germany are now converting their teaching of all technical courses to 100% English only.

US Students Going Overseas To Study

One administrator said that whilst they may bemoan the loss of their language in these areas, it was the way the world is for engineering, IT and the hard sciences of Chemistry, Physics, Medical and Biological research. Communication and development in all those fields was primarily in the English language, and that German centres of learning (unlike the French), were not going to try to swim against the tide but rather embrace it.

So 'English language imperialism', as the French like to think it, is proceeding apace through 'Vorsprung durch Technik', or rather, "Advancement through technology", as they will soon be saying.


  1. English is the perfect storm of languages, firstly it is easy and adaptable, secondly it was widely spread by the British Empire and thirdly it is the preferred language for popular music which permeates the final linguistic frontiers.

    1. personally I think it was the arrival of the USA, Hollywood and Rock'n'Roll after 1945, that sealed English as the prima world language. I doubt that Chinese will ever supplant it now.

    2. The USA is certainly a big influence but why does the USA speak English?

    3. The USA speaks English as its main tongue because according to legend, in 1795 a bill to establish German as the official language of the fledgling United States of America was defeated in Congress by a single vote. Of course that's according to legend. In reality in 1790 with roughly 277,000 Americans of German ancestry, the proposal before Congress in 1795, merely recommended the printing of federal laws in German as well as English, and no bill was ever actually voted upon. Still with over 50 million Americans of German descent today, they nearly became the biggest language group outside of English.

  2. Great Post! I do agree with you that English is now learned by a lot of people. English is not my country's language but I learned it since it was a need and a part of our education. I even furthered my knowledge and skills in English by having a tutor at I learned a lot from my tutor and have used that knowledge in my work and communicating with people who doesn't speak my language but knows English.

    1. I guess that allowing person to speak to person is the primary raison d'être of a lingua franca's existence .... Latin served the same purpose in the Roman Empire and then in the Middle Ages. Thanks for the comment.


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