The Causes and the Effects of Spreading the English Language
The English language had grew and developed for centuries not only in different forms but also spread its influence throughout the world. It has several titles given by the linguists such as the international language, global language, the world’s lingua franca and etc (Tsuda, 2008; Caine, 2008; Phan Le Ha; 2007). At the present, English became an international gatekeeper in globalization; it became as the main medium of communication in the fields of economy, politics, and social norms according to Pennycook (cited by Tsuda, 2008: 48). Several linguists, however, stated that with the domination of the language it had also brought a number of effects on society. This paper will discuss the causes behind the ascendance of the English language that Yukio Tsuda (2008) called the English Hegemony and its effects towards the social and political aspects.
According to Braj Kachru, there were several phases in the spreading of the language. In the first phase, the language expanded throughout the Britain during the 16th-17th century. The second phase was the period where the people who bore the English tongue migrated to North America, Australia, and New Zealand. The third and the most controversial phase in its history was English had reached countries that were foreign to the language in Asia. This was the ultimate stage where the language became a cross-cultural phenomena; the birth of the global language (cited by Caine, 2008:2).
Many linguists mused at the irony of the language at the present time; people who speak English as either second or foreign language outnumbered the ones of native tongues (Tsuda, 2008; Caine, 2008; Phan Le Ha; 2007). However, along with the prosperity of English as an international and global language came also the effects which by are found undesirable and worrisome. Not all of them see the Hegemony of English bring the good on people and society. In Tsuda’s study (2008) of the linguists’ different perspectives towards the world lingua franca, one group perspective called Critical/Transformative believed that it had brought inequality/discrimination in social, economic, and political aspects. Tsuda also cited Robert Phillipson quoting ‘the dominance of English is asserted and maintained by establishment and continuous reconstitution of structural and cultural inequalities between English and the other languages’ (2008:48).
According to Alastair Pennycook, author of Cultural Politics of English as an International Language, the language’s dominance over other languages created a barrier between those who know how to speak English and those who were not. English brought benefits to native speakers but also gave way for social inequalities that created barriers in the lingual sense. Tsuda called this the English Divide (cited by Tsuda, 2008:47). This was earlier on supported with the thesis of Phan Le Ha (2007). In his study, English as an International language may have played an important role in globalization but it was always hindered by language politics and favoring the dominant forms of the language. The English language had produced several varieties by country but most of these are condemned as either an inferior version or worse, slang compared with their Standard English (2007:49-52).
Although English became an international gatekeeper for globalization, its hegemony had also brought out the worst in the social norms. Several effects had happened due to this phenomenon. There was the social inequality within the countries due to the native speakers discriminating against the non-native speakers of having‘poor’ English skills. The dominance of the language created rifts with the other languages that resulted not only with the language loss but also the breakdown of cultures. With all these factors put into context, it would be good for everyone if the language’s hindrance would wither away soon.
List of References
Caine, J. (2008). ‘Do You Speak Global? The Spread of English and the Implications for English Language Teaching’. Canadian Journal for New Scholars in Education [online] 1, (1) 1-11. Available from <http://www.cjnse-rcjce.ca/index.php/cjnse/article/view/22/19> [March 17,2009]
Phan, L.H. (2007). ‘Toward a Critical Notion of Appropriation of English as an International Language’. Journal of English as an International Language [online] 1, (4) 48-60. Available from <http://www.eilj.com/Journal_English_International_Language_Vol_1.pdf> [March 17, 2009]
Tsuda, Y. (2008). ‘English Hegemony and English Divide’. China Media Research [online] 4, (1) 47-55. Available from <http://www.chinamediaresearch.net/vol4no1/6.pdf> [March 17, 2009]