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The hegemony of English

English puts other languages at risk of extinction

Redacción

English is the fastest growing language in the world, with more people speaking English than ever before. For example, School children in India and China are learning English at a staggering rate as their countries emphasise the importance of English as a ticket to participating in the global economy.

It is important to understand that there is not one English language; there are many. There are countless blends, pidgins, creoles and mixed English languages. At the same time that English is becoming the language of internationalisation, it is also becoming localised in different parts of the world as multiple world Englishes flourish.

The rise of English comes with several concerns, including questions of cultural hegemony and postcolonial criticisms. While it is easy to shrug off such criticisms with the argument that English is necessary for social mobility, economic prosperity and education, there remain many unanswered questions around the social and cultural impacts of English as a global language.

The use of English in the internationalisation of research and higher education comes at a cost to local knowledge and languages, as academics in places such as Japan, China, Germany and other parts of the world compete with scholars from the UK and USA to publish in high-ranking English-language research journals.

Even in France, which is renowned for its cultural and linguistic protectiveness, English is gaining ground in its universities, with 83% of French lecturers using English in their field of research.

But it should always be remembered that there is a real tragedy in the loss of language diversity as English takes over, placing other languages at risk of extinction. This has been acknowledged and efforts are being made to preserve indigenous languages in places such as Papua New Guinea, Brazil and Australia.

Source: The Conversation

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