Rise of English Essay

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The Rise of English: The Language of Globalization in China and the European Union Anne Johnson I. Introduction It is everywhere. Some 380 million people speak it as their first language and perhaps two-thirds as many again as their second. A billion are learning it, about a third of the world’s population are in some sense exposed to it and by 2050, it is predicted, half the world will be more or less proficient in it. It is the language of globalisation—of international business, politics and diplomacy. It is the language of computers and the Internet. You’ll see it on posters in Cote d’Ivoire, you’ll hear it in pop songs in Tokyo, you’ll read it in official documents in Phnom Penh. Deutsche Welle broadcasts in it. Bjork, an Icelander, sings in it. French business schools teach in it. It is the medium of expression in cabinet meetings in Bolivia. Truly, the tongue spoken back in the 1300s only by the ‘low people’ of England, as Robert of Gloucester put it at the time, has come a long way. It is now the global language. “A World Empire by Other Means: The Triumph of English,” The Economist A s academic analyses of globalization increase in number, it is ever more important to examine the drivers behind this phenomenon, the factors that influence it, and the manifestations it produces in everyday life. A pertinent example of all three dynamics, the worldwide advance of the English language is important to study not only in its own right, but also for its potential to deepen our understanding 131 Macalester International Vol. 22 of globalization and of the possibilities of creating a more equitable, tolerant, and ethically responsible world. Surprisingly, precious little academic and policy attention has been directed to the rise of the English language, especially in regionally specific contexts.1 But as a proxy site for the very issues I have
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