Essay about English as an International Language

5078 Words May 21st, 2013 21 Pages
Cojocaru Olga-Georgiana, Master STA, anul I,sem. I



This paper is intended to raise awareness on the aspects which define English as an international language, by examining the characteristics of an international language, the number of users, how it spread to reach global status, what factors may impede its continued spread and what dangers are involved in the development of English as an international language.

English’s international status is determined by a constellation of political, economic,
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The spread of English began in the nineteenth century due to different factors such as migration of English-speaking individuals and technological and scientific advances occurred in English-speaking countries. Since then it has been in a continued growth, reaching today global status and winning the title of international language Therefore, the study of this phenomenon and the study of English’s evolution is a subject of major interest because of its multitude of cultural, political, economical and social implications.

1. Defining an international language

By definition, an international language is a language that has a large number of native speakers. If this definition is sustained, then Mandarin, English, Spanish, Hindi, and Arabic are five most widely spoken languages in the world today. Even so, unless these languages are spoken by a large number of native speakers of other languages, the language is not considered a language of wider communication. English, in this sense, is the international language par excellence (McKay 2002). And in many instances it is a language of wider communication both among individuals from different countries as well as individuals from one country. Globally and locally, English is an international language. Crystal (1997) states that when a language develops a ‘special role recognized in every country’ (p. 2), it achieves a global status. The same case is when

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