English and Globalization
English language traces its origin from England in Britain. It is the leading international language that has grown roots in many countries especially those countries that were once colonies of the British. Major world functions are today conducted in English which is then translated into other languages such as French, Germany and Arabic. The spread of English can be attributed to several factors. Many writers and sociolinguists attach the spread of English language to the British colonization of most part of the world in which she left her legacy. Globalization of English is a concept derived from economic, social, political and cultural processes that are of international scale. Pennycook 2003 borrows Fairlough’s approach to globalization which views this concept as a product of global economic, socio-political and cultural processes which goes beyond a particular country’s borders. (Pennycook 2003) This implies that there is diversified human contact influence across cultural borders as a result of economic activivties of international extent. (Pennycook 2003)
Phillipson looks at the global English in 3 different ways. He looks at this language as a product of cods and forms used in geographically diverse societies, as process English language means the expansion that its users are exposed to by its agents such as the colonialists and the missionaries. As a project, the main objective of the spread of this language is to become the world’s default international language. He emphasizes that the project notion of the English language is a reality that can be proved by the fact that since one third of the world’s population has some eloquence in the language. (R. Phillipson 2008)
Globalizaion of English is a concept of historical development that beun from as early as 1500. Pennycook (2003) agrees with Mignolo (2000: 236) that gloobalization is a long historical process which in the twentieth century involved transnational corporations in terms of media and technology. The globalization is a concept that is characterized by a series of European and christian designs that overlap to enforce civilization and development of missions in ‘new lands’ Apart of the econimic and political gains, these overlapping designs were also fueled by other missions. This notion sets the best precedent of the globalization of the English language as it is hinged on both historical and cultural concepts.
Revisiting the input of colonization into the global spread of English, I would wish to expound on the British and the American legacieis that they left in their colonies. Research shows that English language plays various important political roles in different nations. This notion contadicts the fact that global spread of English took place in various ways. It never followed the same course in all countries. Tollefson states that the political spread of English in various countries is based on persoanl political decisions that benefit only a small group of people while discards the rest. For instance, tollefson cites the approach that Kachru ( 1993) uses in analyzing the global spread of English. Kachru starts from the primary speakers of English language that include countries like the Britain, Canada and the United States. From here, he connects the anguage to countries in which English is used in major institutions, government and media. The language then spreads to other countries like India, Singapore and african countries such as Ghana and Kenya. For example, many United States and British colonies have most of their documents such constitution drafted in English. Their educatonal systems are also using English as the language of instrution in their institutions of learning. (Tollefson 2000)
The globalization of English language is also largely a factor of colonial activities. Britain colonized and controlled several empires in the Americas India and parts of Africa. Phillipson (1994) states that English language became a tool of when the british went out to discover and rule the rest of the world. His article reveals that the qeens tongue was codified and taught as a standard in spain’s education system so as to surpress numerous venaculars of spain. (R. Phillipson 1994). This standardization has an ideological function of imposing the domination of the English speaking groups on non-English speakers by monopolizing the means of appropriating the language.
The globalization concept of English language has modification in linguistic market giving rise to homebred and nativizied varieties of English that is embeded on the power status that has led to the rise of a network of alliances. The eventuality of this notion is the rise of several Englishes that today compete with the standard English of the United States and Britian. (M.Bhatt n.d.). the legacy of the ambassodors of English linguistic imperialism in my own view have given rise to a variety of Englishes in the postcolonial context is a reality. For instance, Bhatt explains that the English in India has given rise into possibilities of new meanings that calls for the negotiation between the level of English as to whether it is in the international or local context. And this notion is manifested in the way tag questions are used in the current Indian Englishes and the way it was used in the british standard language. (M.Bhatt n.d.)
I also find this discussion of the English globalization paculiar in a way. The English language is a ‘killer’ of indigenous languages. This is because many local languages have diminshed to pave way for the inaugaration of English either as a national or an official language. Mahboob Ahmar observes that the way in which the Western English speakers’ persecption of the muslim community is a hindrace to its spread. Mahboob reiterates that many contemporary scholars portray the illusionary ways in which the Western authors and culture have associated the muslim community with evil doing. The Western culture view the Muslim women as primitive and their men as terrorists and war mongers. (Mahboob 2009) this view is also supported by Pennycook (2003) that the English continues to a brand of colonialism which is bent on exposing the inferiority of the non-white people including the negative portrayal of the muslim community. (Pennycook 2003)
The global spread of English language is also strongly pegged on the commitment and investment that individuals accord this notion. When I realised my potential in translation and interpretation, I gained more interest and decided to commit my ime and resources into perfecting the skills. This endevor sparked off the positive perseption from my peers who developed a good experience with this language and they felt free to identify themselves with English as a language. To my own understanding, being an English interpretor unlocked my dreams and thus the language became my liberator and a sorce of my freedom. (Lin, A, Wang, W, Akamatsu, N and Riazi, A. M. 2002, p. 308).
My commitment went an extra mile as I decided to major in English despite the hardships that awaited my new endeavors. This drastic step compounded on my peers whose interests became stronger with time. My interest in English grew roots when I started obtaining relatively good results in the subject. Initially, most of my classmates were in a professional dilemma and they could not make correct choices of their career. Incredibly, a good number of them eventually enrolled to major in English in university. On my side, I wanted to study education, psychology or sociology. However, due to my strong urge in the English language, I could not help belonging to the department of English at my university. I gave up all my career ambitions and ventured deeply into studying this language. In fact, I ended up an English-major student, which was not exactly what I had wanted and was also symbolic of my failure. At my university, I encountered a variety of classmates. Some of them had a very good command of the language while others were seriously struggling with it.
Similarly, many people have invested into studying English language after realizing that they are in wrong professions. Looking at the personal experience stories told in the Wang, Akamatsu and Riazi article, Mehdi is persuaded to pursue a career in English after feeling unsatisfied in his job as a low level electronic technician. In his quest to seek ownership and identity he solidly invest in studying English language and he capitalizes on his splendid performance in the University entrance exams tgo join a University and specialize in English. His decision of a shift in career identity strengthened his investment to overcome severe hardships to emerge a victor. (Lin, A, Wang, W, Akamatsu, N and Riazi, A. M. 2002, p. 309)
My way of viewing the world in those days that I decided to go to the graduate school having been inspired by the theoretical scheme of linguistic imperialism that had such a great effect on the global spread of English. At the graduate school, through the application of the theory of linguistic imperialism, I wrote my master’s thesis which critically analyzed the spread of Englishes (R. Phillipson 1994) in Japan; one of its examples is the frequent use of English and Katakanago originating in English for names of women’s magazines and lyrics of popular songs. (Pennycook 2003) In the thesis clearly stated that the spread of English in the Middle East is a product of the current “imperialist world order, that propels the English dominance world language” (Phillipson, 1992, p.272). This also represents the colonized minds of the Middle East people as they abandon their independence in their language and adore a foreign language. In other words, the people of the Middle East have become worshipers of English and its Western culture happily instead of promoting and nurturing their own culture.
English language is also associated with great economic benefits for those who have mastered and are speaking it. This notion is supported by Tollefson (2000). He argues that learning a language is very complex and more demanding the one would no wish to undertake without some economic advantage. However, he finds cumbersome to confirm this claim by arguing that it is not easy to track such benefits from individuals who learn English with such expectations. In fact, many people are driven by this notion as they pursue their quest for mastering the English language. I strongly believe that to some extent there are economic gains that an individual can get as a result of learning English. Using my own experience, being an interpreter in a non- English speaking community has helped me earn my living. Many a times when foreigner come into our country, my skills in English language become a very important sociolinguistic tool for effecting a very good communication. This a service that does not go dishonored! International conventions, workshops and meeting require an excellent interpreter to facilitate an effective communication. This still is a profession cannot be offered without an economic recognition.
In conclusion, globalization of English discussed this paper has focused on economic, social, cultural and political as well as historical background in relation to the use and spread of this English. Besides, this study has also linked this spread to the notions of linguistic imperialism, language ecology and postcolonial performance. More specifically, by relating my personal experience with English language in this discussion to the language imperialism and ecology brings a more concrete approach to the thesis of this discussion. This discussion has also looked at the several motivating factors that entice the new global learners of the English language. The concept of demoralization of the indigenous languages in the countries that take up and use the English language for communication in their governments, businesses and even elevating them to the national level. Indeed, English language has and is still growing roots in the world countries.
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