English is a West Germanic language that is linked to German, Frisian, and Dutch and is a member of the Indo-European linguistic family. One of the most widely spoken languages of the globe today is English, which has its roots in England. English is also sometimes referred to as a „lingua franca,” which simply implies that it facilitates communication between speakers of various native tongues. It has developed into the most generally accepted and used lingua franca in existence today.
The expression „English as a Lingua Franca” has several different meanings. One of the most often used definitions of ELF is that given by Firth (1996), who describes it as a contact language between individuals who do not all speak the same local language or share the same (national) culture and for whom English is the preferred foreign language of communication. It is possible to condense this understanding to „English communication between speakers of different first languages” (Seidlhofer, 2005: 339). These definitions are meant to highlight the significance of English as the „language of choice” among speakers who engage in various educational and professional settings but do not have the same linguistic cultural origins (Jenkins, 2009).
“The convenience of having a lingua franca available to serve global human relations and needs has come to be appreciated by millions.” (Cyrstal, 2003: 30) Because English is used internationally in areas such as politics, safety, commerce, communication, education, entertainment, and the media, millions of people throughout the world have come to value it. Many fields, such as the computer software business, are wholly dependent on it.
In many areas of use in the twenty-first century, English has firmly established itself as the primary dominant worldwide language. We should ask why English, and not any other language, is the universal language.
Two hypotheses that potentially resolve this problem were offered by Crystal (2003). There are the geographical and historical elements that demonstrate how English came to play such a unique role, on the one hand. The sociocultural factors, on the other hand, assist us comprehend why it still performs these roles. These two presumptions contributed to the growth of a language that is universal and that has numerous connotations and a wide range of dialects.
From its earliest days, English has been linked to migration. The British Empire helped to establish English as the dominant language in the globe throughout the 19th century through a combination of trade and cultural politics, resulting in „a language on which the sun never sets” (Graddol, 1997: 6). Geographically and historically, the expansion of the English language coincided with the discovery and colonisation of new lands by the British Empire.
The circumstances for the widespread use of English were set by Britain’s colonial expansion, which spread the language from its island of origin to every corner of the globe.
The period of colonisation and expansion produced what historians classify as the English history. Two highly different realities of language usage and development were profoundly influenced by what are known as „colonies of settlement” and „colonies of exploitation” (Mesthrie and Bhatt 2008). English became the primary language of its citizens in nations including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States of America. The term „colonies of exploitation” refers to several African and Asian nations like India, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, etc., where English is mostly used in formal settings (such the government and the educational system). English has long served as an second language in these nations. The large population of English-speaking people is a result of these facts.
When it comes to academic and professional communication, English is without a doubt Europe’s Lingua Franca. However, in many nations and settings, it is also employed to support other European languages for particular reasons. As a lingua franca, English facilitates communication across borders and enhances linguistic, social, and cultural understanding across Europe.
Political circumstances undoubtedly have an impact on how widely a lingua franca may be employed. Many lingua francas cover just a small area, such as between a few ethnic groups in a single country’s territory or between the trade communities of a few nations, as in the case of West Africa. Latin became the common language throughout the majority of the Roman Empire as a result of its supremacy in politics, business, technology, warfare, literary tradition, and culture. Arabic, Spanish, French, English, Hindi, Swahili, and Portuguese have gained a significant role as lingua franca in specific parts of the world in recent times. The Anglo-American hegemony of the 19th century as well as the effects of globalisation have recently contributed to the affirmation of English throughout the world, particularly in Europe.
Our modern culture has grown more mobile both physically and technologically in a relatively short amount of time, and this has led to changes on many different levels. People may now interact quickly and easily via email or social media, and scheduling a journey across continents in a few hours has become a typical practise in a variety of industries, including education, business, politics, and sports. Taking this into account, Omoniyi and Saxena (2010) state that members of a globalisation network are „marked by difference and inequality and are therefore constantly (re)negotiating roles, relationships, and interdependence.” From this angle, globalisation is viewed as a social construct and as a worldwide network of trade built on interdependent connections.
Globally speaking, English-speaking nations—particularly the United States—have significantly influenced economics and culture.
As more colleges and institutions accept international students, the need to speak English has increased. It is acknowledged that the usage of English in interactions with other cultures and in social interactions among Europeans whether travelling, working, or pursuing education has aided in linguistic coexistence and mobility. This feature has made it easier to develop and implement mobility schemes throughout the European Union.
Despite the fact that English is clearly a lingua franca, it is vital to remember that the dominance of any one language can also raise concerns about linguistic diversity and homogenization of culture.
Crystal, David, English as a Global Language, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2003
Graddol, David, English Next: Why Global English May Mean the End of English as a Foreign Language, London : British Council, 2006
Jenkins, Jennifer, English as a Lingua Franca: Attitude and Identity, Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2009
Jenkins, Jennifer, Cogo, Alessia, Dewey, Martin, Review of developmentsin research into English as a Lingua Franca, Language Teaching 44 (3), 2011
Rajend, Mesthrie, Bhatt, Rakesh M., World Englishes The Study of New Linguistic Varieties, Cambridge University Press, 2008
Saxena, Mukul, Omoniyi, Tope, Contending with Globalization in World Englishes, Multilingual Matters, 2010
Seidlhofer, B., English as a lingua franca and communities of practice, Halle Proceedings. 2007
Seidlhofer, B., Language variation and change: The case of English as a lingua franca, In Dziubalska-Kolaczyk, K., Przedlacka, J.. (eds.). English pronunciation models: a changing scene. Bern: Peter Lang, 2005a