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World historical events have created dominance of the English language over others. Over 1.4 billion people in the world use English. This consists of around 950 million people using English as a second language and around 427 million native speakers. The first historical event that resulted in the dominance of English over other languages was the creation of British Empire, also referred to as imperialism. By 1992, imperialism had expanded to over a quarter of globe’s land area consisting of all parts of the world colonized by Britain (Raine, 2012). To be able to explore the colonies, Britain had to introduce education systems that overrode the native languages by locals acquiring the English language. English would later become the basis of financial success and future academics of those in the colonized nations (John, 2005). By 1992, over 450 million people were using English. According to Phillipson (1992), English took a different course of influence after the World War II following English selection as the national or official language by the colonized nations as they obtained their independence. As such, use of English received legal provisions in over 75 nations that were British territories in colonial period. The combined population of these nations exceeded 2.2 billion people making English the most dominant language in the world (Crystal, 1997).
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Globalization provides undisputable force in English’s influence over other languages. This is an area dealt by Nettle & Romaine (2000) broadly. As countries, regions and people integrate, communication and transport become an important ingredient of success. Cultural diffusion and economic interdependence makes communication not only a personal initiative but also a focus by national policy makers. This has seen usage of English as the cross-boundary language across the globe (Maurais & Morris, 2003). To be precise, its usage has also extended to nations not colonized by Britain. British, Australian and American business may not explicitly seek to spread English; however, communication isan enabler that cannot be ignored. Whereas use of English among businesses and nations is limited to administration levels, people at lower level have also been influenced to learn English as essential trait of career growth. Increased multinational corporations have necessitated cross-boundary movements. Given the wide spread of English usage, cross-boundary movements have been widely supported by English. To build competencies required in the modern world, students have been moving across boundaries (Morley, 1991). Developed economies such as the United States and Europe have witnessed international students’ influx in the recent times. Majority of them have to learn English first, if they never had an advantage of having it from their countries of origin. As such, the influence of English on other languages is pegged on its economically powerful lingua-franca (Esenc, 1998).
Increase in the use of English in translation and publishing have also impacted the other languages negatively. By 1960, the use of English in publishing accounted for 40% of all published documents (Thomason, 2001). Although the proportion have dropped since then, translations to English have risen to over 50%. Further, English’s dominance has impacted negatively on talents held in other languages than English. Literary writing is a good example, gifted and supremely gifted in this area cannot generally turn to use of English easily (Komar, 2010). This limits usage of talents and talents’ growth. By attracting the best of talents, literature in English tends to be the best. This owes to dominance of English in the literature market (William, 2006). Such works as poetry and prose in other languages may be relegated to obtain similar status to other intellectual activity. The dominance of English in audiovisual and auditory exceeds that of books. Given the increased spread of these forms of communication, other languages are under serious threat (Mélitz, 2012).
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Dominance of English over other language is not necessary a contemporary issue, rather, it dates back to historical events associated with imperialism. However, the extent of such dominance have grown over time and was particularly fueled by globalization. As people integrate, communication becomes a necessity for fruitful interactions. The modes of communication have also been moving towards audiovisual and auditory as opposed to books. This has given English dominance over other languages a new front. Increased dominance has resulted in the endangerment of other languages.
Creation of British Empire may be the singular event in history that positioned English as an international language hence giving it ‘undue influence’ over other languages. Education systems in the colonies were pegged on English. This was compounded when the colonies made English national and official language after obtaining independence. By this alone, English was already exposed to over 2.2 billion people after the World War II. However, dominance of English received a new boost in the wake of globalization which continues to date. As country, region and people integrate, use of English as international language has gotten more relevance. Movements of people across the globe for business purposes and education among other language have increased English usage over other languages. Apparently, English’s dominance has taken a different dimension. Increased translation of published documents using English has intensified English usage over the globe. The increased use of audiovisual materials, which are normally prepared in English, over the books have made English usage a common phenomenon intensifying its dominance.
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The dominance obtained by English over the other languages has to a greater extent endangered other languages. Whereas this was a product of historical events, globalization has rejuvenated its dominance. The strength obtained from globalization, incapacitating talents in other language and translations leaves no doubt in English’s capacity to ‘kill’.
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