Human beings for many years have been interacting with each other in various ways. It should be noted that they did not come from same areas, they had different backgrounds, different ways of communications or simply they had different languages. They therefore needed translations for easier interactions. This was done by interpreters in every community although they had limitations. They could only manage to interpret few things which sometimes could have their meanings distorted. Communities that had mixed languages therefore did not rely much on individuals for their communication with other groups. Bilingualism was a solution to communities that had two or three languages as kids in such communities could naturally learn the languages, but this is difficult for communities with many languages as it is in many parts of Africa and South-east Asia. To solve this problem, such communities have to look for a common language or lingua franca. Trading communities are also forced to find a simplified language for communication. This simplified language is known as pidgin which essentially combines elements from both languages like the West African Pidgin English. Other times indigenous languages can emerge as lingua franca, like in the case of Mandarin Chinese. But in most cases foreign languages are accepted by communities due to the political, religious or economic influence of the mother countries. This essay will therefore explore the advantages and disadvantages of a lingua franca (Shaposhnikov 2007, par 5)
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The emergency of many international bodies such as the United Nations, the World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO, the International Atomic Energy Agency call for a lingua franca as their forums have representations from many countries with different languages. This is a cheaper alternative as much is usually spent on the expensive and impractical multi-way translations. A reduction in the number of languages used in world bodies, helps in cutting down on the many translations and also reduce the clerical work involved. But this is not easy as no country will want her language to be given a less international standing. But if countries choose to use their languages exclusively then it will be hard especially in the international academic and business communities, it will be hard for people to communicate in the lecture rooms, boardrooms and in the many contacts that people make globally. The growth in technology especially in the communications technology in the twenty first century has necessitated the need for a global language. People have become physically and electronically more mobile and this have affected every country in the world calling for a common language to relieve the few professionals (Crystal 2000. Par. 6)
But as much as the need for a global language seems justified, it must be carefully examined before any one plunge into it. One global language can bring about a class of monolingual linguistic elites, who will become complacent and dismissive in their attitudes for other languages. It will also be an advantage to those who use it as their mother tongue as they can manipulate it to suit themselves at the expense to those who do not know it. A global language will also encourage its owners not to learn other languages. If one language is developed globally, then the other languages will be useless, in other words the minority languages will disappear or become unnecessary. This is seen from the number of languages in the world today as compared to those that were there 100 years ago. This number is a clear indication that some languages have disappeared (Gycjony 2010, par. 1)
And if this is allowed to go on then the minority groups will disappear as language is a person's identity and culture. The danger of some people looking at other languages as better than others should also not be ignored as this can bring about discrimination in the world something that the world is fighting to eliminate. Global language will also interfere with the way other languages are used something that will cause language pollution (Crystal 2000, par. 7).
When a language acquires a global identity as English has done, many unexpected things can happen. The two main conflicting issues that have come out as a problem are identity and internationalism. Internationalism here means the ability for a language to be understood. It calls for a standard that is agreed in terms of grammar, vocabulary, spelling, punctuations and the conventions of use (Ibrahim 2005, par. 9).
This will mean that people will have to speak and follow the rules and conventions of that particular language and these will involve the culture of those people who use it. This in effect interferes with the culture and language of other people. In the world today every nation and every group of people is struggling to be recognized, this can only happen if these nations stand out and show to the world what makes them unique from others. Language plays a big role in this and therefore should not be interfered with in the name of coming up with a lingua franca. You can not express your culture well while using someone else's language (Nescay 2008, par. 1& 2)
There is no doubt whatsoever about English being a global language in these times we are leaving in. It has become the language of communication and technology and any one who does not want to be left behind in all this has no option but to learn it and eventually English speakers in the coming years will increase drastically. This in itself will disadvantage the native English speakers as they will be outnumbered by the non-native English speakers. They will be the only ones speaking one language as they will see no reason in learning a second language. With time the English language will be controlled be the many non-native speakers who will have become competent in it. The language will then diversify into many versions that will then bring about a lesser understanding than it was initially intended (Romli 2009, par. 4).
With all the disadvantages it remains undisputable that no language will emerge in the near future to be a global language as English has done. Minor languages will form in regions or areas of influence but not globally as English. Many regions have invested heavily in English speaking areas and will therefore not attempt at doing away with this language as a way of protecting their investment, take the case of Asia, their investment gives them no choice but accept English as the main form of international communication and this is there to stay. Within Asia itself Mandarin is the preferred language for trade, business and technology. And lastly no single language will truly be taken as a global language to dominate the other languages. People will learn other languages just as foreign languages but not to take over their native ones (Graddol 1997, par. 1 & 2).
The basis of all human interactions is language; thinking can not be possible without language. Understanding a new language opens new perspectives in life and broadens an individuals mind. But this should not be done at the expense of one's identity.