English a necessary evil
English: A necessary evil?
Over the past two centuries, English has established itself as the lingua franca of the world. 400 million people speak English as a first language and close to a billion people speak it as a second language.
English has become the language of scientific research and commerce. Half of all scientific and technical journals in the world are written in English, half of all newspapers are English and increasingly major corporations have initiated a process of ‘English-ization’ in the businesses.
English is convenient, it facilitates communication between groups of people who do not share native languages. The language has boosted commerce and diplomatic relationships and has proved to be essential to learn in the modern era. English is an incredibly powerful tool.
However, the question raised by critics is the major opportunity cost associated with English. Recently, there are raising concerns worldwide about the threat that English poses to local languages and dialects.
In countries like Iceland, where English is gaining significant influence, it is feared that local languages will die out to the killer language. Languages are innately connected to culture, when a language dies, the culture follows.
There is a balance to be made here. Focusing completely on the development of English will only lead to the native language dying.
Similarly, focusing only on the local languages and ignoring the benefits of English will have serious economic implications for individuals and the country.
Striking a balance is essential in the matter, there needs to be a recognition of the power of English and the importance of culture.
According to expert linguist David Crystal, English isn’t going anywhere and will prove to be dominant for at least the next 50 years. It is time we adapt accordingly.
By: Muhammad Yahya