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Preliminary questions
1. Do you think that the emergence of a world/international/global language is
determined on purely linguistic grounds?

2. The history of humanity witnessed several world/international/global languages

throughout centuries. Name them and compare/contrast their status (with reference to
endonormative and exonormative standards, too).

3. Do you think that the widespread of English will endanger the other languages of
the world?

4. Do you think that the widespread of English will endanger English itself?

5. Is there correspondence between ethnolinguistic identity and homeland / national /

continental boundaries? Justify your answer.

6. What functions do international languages serve?

7. How many languages make p the European portfolio? Enlarge upon their status
with particular reference to translation.

Setting the scene

There have been two primary paradigms employed to account for the linguistic effects of
globalization that would give rise to a world language: modernization and linguistic
imperialism. Modernization describes the spread of industrial production, technology,
finance, and trade, the burgeoning of the middle class, and the birth of a consumer
culture, among nations that were previously underdeveloped. From this standpoint, the
increasing use of a common language throughout the world simply represents the natural
concomitant of the march of progress. In marked contrast, linguistic imperialism finds in
the spread of certain languages to the exclusion of others the exercise of Western,
ultimately imperialist, hegemony, the extension into the cultural and linguistic realm of
the political and economic control that the Center has exercised over the colonial and
neocolonial periphery for centuries. Both explanations take for granted that
globalization, including the spread of English, represents an essentially Western-driven
process, one of which the rest of the world catches up to or is incorporated into European/
North American society, rather than a multi-polar process driven by no central hegemony.
Brutt-Griffler (2002) shows, rather, the development of English into or toward the status
of a world language to be considerably more complex, a process that includes numerous
forces, economic, political, cultural, and intellectual, underlying globalization, combined
with the active agency of its new speakers around the globe choosing to learn the
Graddol (2004) remarks, English will indeed play a crucial role in shaping the new
world linguistic order, but its major impact will be in creating new generations of
bilingual and multilingual speakers across the world.
Number of nations in which international languages are given some official status
English 63, French 34, Spanish 23, Arabic 23, German 8, Portuguese 7
(Ammon, 1994, p. 1726; *Crystal, 1997a, p. 359)
While international languages retain their importance in linking language groups across
national and continental boundaries, they seem to be losing importance where the goal is
to communicate with a global audience. There is thus a pronounced trend toward English
as the medium for the publication of scientific research. For instance, the articles indexed
by Chemical Abstracts show that the percentage in English increased from 62.3% in 1978
to 82.5% in 1998, while the proportion in every other language except Chinese fell. The
two languages that followed English in 1978 experienced particularly dramatic declines
thereafter, Russian (19.5% to 3.1%) and German (5.0% to 1.6%), while French fell off
from 2.4% to just 0.5%. Ammons (1998) figures demonstrate the same trend the natural
sciences as a whole. English shows similar dominance on the Internet. In 2000, 68.4% of
web pages were in English, with only Japanese (5.9%) and German (5.8%) registering
more than 5%, followed by Chinese (3.9%), French (3.0%) and Spanish (2.4%) above the
2% level (Maurais, 2003).

Languages of Wider Communication

A language of wider communication, also known as a lingua franca, provides a mutually
intelligible medium for speakers in multilingual societies, to some extent replicating on
the intra-national scale the function of world (or international) language(s) on the global
scale although world and international languages are languages of wider
communication in the broadest sense of the term. There are three major categories of
languages of wider communication:
1. international languages which may not be indigenous to the region, such as English,
French, or Portuguese in Africa, or alternatively may be indigenous, as in the case of
Swahili in East Africa and Hausa in West Africa; English as a language of wider
communication in Europe (Seidlhofer and Jenkins, 2003) represents something of an
intermediate case, because English is indigenous to a portion of the region but not in
continental Europe where it plays its specific role;
2. languages of indigenous origin that have come to fill the role of national (or
regional) languages, though they are not the mother tongues of the majority of the
people, for example, Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesia), Tagalog (Philippines), or Hindi (parts
of India);
3. languages of local and recent origin that have arisen at least in part specifically to fill
the function of a language of wider communication; often called urban vernaculars,
they are mixed languages containing elements of local languages, and sometimes
international languages such as English or French; Isicamtho (South Africa), chiHarare
(Zimbabwe), and Town Bemba (Zambia) number among them. When English or French
functions in this capacity, it tends to be referred to as a second language, to signal that it
provides many speakers of a given nation with a medium in which to communicate when
confronted with nationals outside the speakers language group. In such cases, the second
language may or may not be given official status, but it is generally adopted for a wide
range of societal functions: economic, political, and cultural. In the second case, the
languages are always official, and are also designated as national, as they are held to
embody the national aspirations of the people, as may also be the case with an
international language such as Swahili that is indigenous to the region. In the case of
urban vernaculars, they are seldom given institutional recognition of any kind, and in
many cases have only begun to be distinguished as languages in their own right. In the
highly fluid circumstances in which they arise, they may even become transformed into
the mother tongues of at least a portion of their speakers and may also be making their
way into the classroom (Childs, 1997). When a language is spoken in only one or a few
countries as a second language by many of its speakers, that constitutes evidence that it
functions as a language of wider communication. Two such languages are Swahili, which
according to some estimates has as few as 5 million mother tongue speakers and 30
million second language users, and Bahasa Indonesia, with some 17 to 30 million native
speakers as compared to 140 million non-mother tongue users.
(Mey, J.L. (ed.). Concise Encyclopedia of Pragmatics, 2009 (2nd ed.): 505ff)

European Language Portfolio the principle of equal authenticity of all the languages
making up the European portfolio and of the texts in the EU institutions, alongside
European language policies (more specifically, of the Commission Communication of
18.09.2008 Multilingualism an asset for Europe and a shared commitment and of
the Council Resolution of 21.11.2008 on a European strategy for multilingualism), where
reference is made to language versions not to translations.
The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the
official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other
As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had
some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become
In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c".. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants
jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up
There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph"
will be replaced with "f".. This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.
In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage
Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a
Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it
By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with
During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and after
Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi TU understand ech oza. Ze
Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.
If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl.