miércoles, 8 de agosto de 2012

The cultural imposition of the English language

By: Fernando Guízar Pimentel
English has unquestionably achieved some sort of global status. Whenever we turn on the news to find out what is happening in virtually any place, local people are being interviewed and telling us about it in English. It is also hugely important as an international language and plays an important part even in countries where both the UK and the US have historically had little influence.

Nevertheless, it should come as no surprise that, despite the ever growing number of anglophones worldwide, studies show that the popularity of the language is decreasing in the US. One should remember that America is a utterly huge melting pot, where the immigrant population grows by millions every year. It has turned into an amazingly diverse collage of cultures  from literally every corner of the world that allows people to exchange their views end influence each other everyday.

Each time, a larger percentage of the inhabitants of the US speak English as their second language or they simply do not at all. But when it comes to discuss if English would prevail as the world’s foremost language, we should take into account the popular perception which holds the view that the popularization and the eventual standardization of the language within the individual national boundaries would also mean an imposition of an imperialist superpower.

Both Britain and America are well known for their chauvinistic, self imposing views in regards to almost any issue. At least, their cultural approach reflects this stance, disliked by a large number of Europeans and Latin Americans. By contrast, most Asian countries seem to be fascinated by anything Western; even their aesthetic canons are shifting according to American standards.

It may be also be argued that, if English becomes the absolute working language of the world, it could possibly limit the possibilities when it comes to expression in a pluralistic context, as almost every nation finds their language as the best possible way to  convey, more than the local issues, their whole idiosyncrasy.

On the other hand, it would be unlikely to suppose the substitution of English in a world scale scheme by an artificial language like Esperanto, even if it would constitute a politically correct move. Even if it does not enjoy of a tremendous linguistic prestige, the status of English as the international lingua franca will remain untouched for a long time and it is not far from being at the peak of its absolute worldwide usage.