Why did English become the international ? That is the question that we are going to answer today. English is the de facto global lingua Franca. It’s the language of global commerce. Tt’s the main language of international diplomacy. It’s the language of air traffic control and it’s the language of the majority of academic journals and maybe most importantly for us it’s the most common language on the internet and it’s also the language that international travelers with different native languages use to communicate with each other. The very definition of a lingua Franca.
But how did English reach this kind of Status. Well it’s partly because of the role of the United States of America as a global superpower, but the state was said earlier than that. In the 16th century England started to establish overseas colonies and by the end of the 18th century the British Empire had grown quite extensive with colonies in a few parts of India and Africa, in the Caribbean, Canada and what was to become the United States.
The British were not the only ones establishing colonies of course, much of present-day Canada in the US was part of New France. A large area that has been colonized by the French. But these areas were lost to the British during the seven Years War, and much of what is now the southern and Western United States was colonized by the Spanish. But these areas were taken by the United States in Wars with Spain and later Mexico The Dutch had also colonized an area known as new Netherland but it was lost to the British in the late 17th century.
There were also non-British immigrants to the British colonies of North America. For example German speaking immigrants. For a long part of the USA history German was it second most widely spoken language.
It use during the First World War because of the stigma of being associated with Germany. So while there were numerous languages spoken by settlers, English became the dominant language of the United States. The British kept on establishing colonies after American Independence, including much larger areas of the Indian subcontinent and Africa Australia and New Zealand and after the first world war in the Middle East. In 1922 the British Empire covered almost a quarter of the Earth ann about one-fifth of the world’s population. Some of these countries became populated by English settlers. And these other countries were English became the dominant language, replacing many others: Other countries were not populated by permanent settlers, only by administrative military and commercial personal. Generally, in these countries English did not become the single dominant language, but became a prestige language and a convenient lingua Franca that could facilitate communication among the linguistically diverse populations. English was not the only colonial language gaining a foothold throughout much of the world.
But along with French and Spanish it was one of the main ones. It is hard to imagine a language other than one of these becoming the global lingua franca. Through the 19th century it was French, but English began to surpass French in the 20th century. By the time of the first World War, the United States had become a strong economic power and its role in the war increased its political influence in Europe.
After the war the Treaty of Versailles was written not only in French but also an English. This signalled the start of English as a language of diplomacy but it was after WWII when English really began to develop into the main global lingua Franca, as the United States developed more fully into a world superpower. This is partly because after the war of the United States military maintain a presence in Europe to a system reconstruction efforts which greatly increased its international influence.
And this didn’t stop with Europe American economic political and military influence over much of the world has been the reality for decades. As the United States grew in power advancements in technology gave rise to mass communication and media. American movies TV and music spread throughout the world, exposing regular people to the English language rather than just being the lingua Franca of International Business and diplomat you can now stay at a youth hostel and communicate with most of the other travellers in English. This is largely because of English language mass media as well as English as a second language courses being a part of the curriculum in schools in many countries.
This is something that has continued to increase in response to the growing importance of English as a global language, and that makes the growth of English self-reinforcing.One of the last remaining obstacles to English truly becoming the world language was the USSR during the Cold War. Russian was the lingua Franca in most of the USSR as member states. And scientific articles during that time were written mainly either in English or in Russian, but the decline in ultimate collapse of the USSR resulted in a decline in Russian as a lingua Franca and language of science. Today over 96% of scientific articles are written in English. In the past couple of decades globalisation has solidified the position of England as a global language with people from all over the world interacting with each other more and relying on the global lingua Franca to communicate.
And on top of that the internet has accelerated that trend. English is the number one which online and people from all over the world are constantly exposed to English online and communicate via social media with people from all over the world mainly in English. All you have to do is take one look at the comments on this channel and you’ll see the English functions as the lingua Franca of much of the internet So, in summar, the reach of the of the British Empire brought english to all 4 corners of the globe. And the rise of America built upon that momentum. As the world has gotten a smaller place due to technology and globalization, English has become a truly global language.
Does everyone in the world speak English well. No of course not but. On top of the roughly 360 million native speakers of English, there are over a billion people who speak it as a Second Language. Some people say there are as many as 2 billion around the world, I guess depending on what level of proficiency you include. Will English be the international language forever. forever is a very absolute word nothing lasts forever but it does seem that English will be the international language for the foreseeable future will Mandarin become the international language since China is growing an infinite I don’t really exist in a bubble and it’s cut off from the internet in the social media world that we all know it really has its own separate internet and I think that limits the amount of cultural influence that China will have 1 other countries I think that people in China will continue to learn English in order to communicate with people outside of China but if you work at a souvenir shop in a tourist area Mandarin might become your daily lingua Franca will esperanto become the international language