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A Threat To The Diversity Of Languages English Language Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 1651 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The economic globalization leads to the linguistic globalization. The variables which make the language globalized are the number of languages, migration of people, foreign language learning, tourism, internet languages, and international scientific publications. Because of the dominant cultural status of the UK and the USA, English has been developed as a lingua franca. The reasons to form global English are its geographical-historical and socio-cultural origins, and it is also the people’s natural needs of their real social life, whose comprehensive forces formed from the history and practice make the spread of English unstoppable in the world. 

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Nowadays, because of the impact of globalization and modernization, minority or indigenous languages worldwide are endangered or the gradual disappearance has become a universal phenomenon. The survival of the world’s linguistic diversity is also facing a severe threat. Concerned about the harm to the world’s linguistic and cultural diversity, the trend of globalization of English, and as soon as possible to take countermeasures, how to protect the human linguistic diversity has aroused great concern.


Only half a century ago, any notion of English as a true global language was but a dim, shadowy, theoretical possibility, surrounded by the political, social and economical uncertainties of that time, and lacking any clear definition or sense of direction. Fifty years on, the situation of English has become peculiar in that perhaps no other language has ever been so important on a global scale. Now no one would ever argue that English is the common language of our world.

In today’s world, global language is a phrase that repeats itself at such a high frequency that few others can outmatch. One may bear in his or her mind the question of what are the properties that could justify a language with such a title. Why a language becomes a global language has little to do with the number of people who speak it. It has much more to do with who those speakers are. They must have huge power in economy, military, politics, etc.

The globalization of English swallows and replaces the languages of the weak and small nations of the world, and the languages and cultures of the weak nations are faced with the possible destruction and the threat. People should protect the long-term human accumulation and living treasures of the languages and cultures, and to build a better multi-language and multi-cultural harmonious international environment. 


The rise of English as a global language has much to do with, besides its own traits, Britain’s language expansion policies over British colonial period, the rise of America and other English-speaking countries in the 20th century and the acceleration of globalization, etc. (Xu 1-2) English has become an important communication tool for people around the world. Meanwhile, the hegemony of English has serious consequences, among other things; it has speed up the loss of traditional cultures for non-English-speaking countries and become a threat to world’s cultural diversity and language ecology.


Some writers (e.g.Phillpson, Skuttnab-Kangeas) claim that with the world-wide spread and the establishment of dominant status, English is regarded as a ‘killer language’, (Skuttnab-Kangeas 1996:33), which endangers other languages and disrupts language ecology.

The English gradual globalization brings the following several questions:

First, People maybe forget the conventions, to be Westernized or Americanized. The massive English words and expressions, the expressional ways invade other countries, so that the chastity of languages comes under the influence. What’s more, people’s thoughts have been seriously twisted.

Second, following the English coming, western culture in the foundation of the western value system invades the world, and affects the national culture’s cultural and linguistic diversity.

Third, regarding the special emphasis on the English study, it has the influence to the mother tongue study, simultaneously creates the people mother tongue’s loyalty drop. Therefore, it poses a serious threat to indigenous people and languages.

Fourth, the only English movement encroaches on the education of mother language. The child English education outset age ahead of time. English education expense is huge. In Beijing, 240,000 the only0-6 year-old cities child cost as high as 140,000,000 to 280 million Yuan for English study every year.

In view of the appearance of the present phenomena, the “English invasion” will be able to create our country’s the language crisis and the cultural crisis. This is a new colonialism. The language is the carrier of culture. The maintenance of language chastity and the independence, regarding maintains cultural system of our country, safeguards development of the countries play the extremely vital role.


However, some people hold different opinions. They think that:

Compared to most other European languages, such as German or French, English has a minimal grammar, which can be easily used and learned by non-English speakers. However, according to Spain and Smith, it may be objected that any European language will be difficult for speakers of oriental languages, but this is not necessarily true. The Japanese, for instance, do not experience such problems with Italian and Spanish pronunciation. These examples include that the native speakers of the world’s only other major wide-spread language (Spanish, with around 360 million speakers), all find English pronunciation problematic to at least some extent.(36)

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Also, in some key areas of global communication, the English is working language. Since English is the most widely spoken language, it also serves as the official language in some organizations, such as the U.N., the Olympic Games, the General Assembly, or other significant international settings. Besides, although English is not spoken by the largest number of people, it’s used in communication in the most widely spread areas. Thus, more and more people have to use language at work, for examples, the Chinese people in Singapore, Malaysia, etc. English enables China, as a member of this village, to share the achievements of civilizations the world over, but the spread of English in China also brings with it linguistic imperialism. (Liu, Yunfei. Lei, Qing 3-4) All in all, it is just a trend toward globalization, which can not avoid or eradicate.

Certainly, as an official and the most popular language, English has been used everywhere by numerous people. However, it cannot be neglected it’s damaging the diversity of languages and causing cultural crisis all over the world. Many people have to speak English at work which means that English proficiency has become the entail condition of employment the promotion and this situation forces people to learn English at all cost. In some important international situations, people use English to communicate or have a conference. However, actually not English can be an official language, French or even Chinese can also help to make the conferences or events finish successfully.

People all over the world start to learn English is also a big reason for the wide usage of English. China, for example, with a huge population, has too much emphasized the foreign language teaching. The population of the study English increases year by year, some experts forecast that again several years later in China the population of English study will surpass the total population number in English mother tongue country. Besides, the bilingual education causes English substitution Chinese to become the teaching terminology.

If things continue this way, the national language authority and the national sovereignty will be in danger. The national sovereignty does not allow vacillating; otherwise it will be able to pose the threat to the national security. Maintenance of nation’s characteristic cultural system is the basis of nation’s development. The maintenance of language chastity and independence can strengthen the national emotion, and national cohesive force, to realize the reunification of the motherland vital role.


On the basis of the above analysis, the conclusion is that to some extent. English does affect language diversity, which manifests in different forms according to different context. In the core English-speaking countries, it severely leads to the endangerment of many indigenous languages. In some periphery-English countries, English deprives those state languages of the right of intellectualization. Certainly, we are unable to avoid English globalization, but we should also see English invasion will be able to create a series of social crisis. First, “English hot” causes the people’s mother tongue loyalty drop; Second, the English vigorously promotion massively invades individual study energy and the national education resources; Third, English invasion leads to the legal status, the social position gliding down; Fourth is more serious that “English hot” threaten security of country culture, leads to the sovereignty losing of national language culture . Given this situation, people can adopt some methods: first, comprehensively analyze the threat of “English invasion”, analysis status of English and other languages in international society and the future development tendency; second on the basis of realistic situation and the forecast result we should adopt the strategy suits each country’s development.


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