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The History of English and its Use as a Global Language

The History of English and its Use as a Global Language | ITTT | TEFL Blog

The history of the global language or what is thought to be the concept of the global language is not new and the originator of this concept is not those that spoke English. The concept of a global language can be defined by a language that is spoken by a large number of both native speakers and speakers of the language as a second language as well as its widespread geographic circulation. This concept of a "lingua franca" or a language that facilitates the communication of people of varying and diverse backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, and creeds has taken different forms throughout history and currently, the lingua franca used predominantly throughout the globe is English. The key factors allowing a language to become a global language has allowed English to become the most widely used language for sectors such as business, academia, technology, entertainment, and diplomacy.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate David S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Global languages of the past

The history of a lingua franca is a rich one, that spans hundreds of years and transitions from different languages mostly concerning the Western world. The first major lingua franca can be considered to be Latin under the Roman Empire, which spread throughout many of the current European countries along with Northern Africa and Asia Minor. The language had transitioned at the fall of the Roman Empire but survived primarily in part due to the adoption of the language by the major Christian religion. Centuries later we can look at the influence of colonization by the French throughout many parts of the globe in the nineteenth century. We can still see the influence left in all parts of the globe with countries' primary language to this day speaking French. Concurrent to the French colonization of the globe, the British along with several other European countries began to spread their empires to different parts of the world. The colonization of what is now the United States of America, by the British Empire, led to English becoming what most people accept as the modern-day global language.


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The Raise of English

With the genesis of the war for independence for the United States of America, a new global language was primed to emerge due to several historical revelations. Key developments including major inventions, diplomatic liberties, and societal gains had established the United States of America as a leader and the principal country for many throughout the world to look to, aspirations of traveling, living and being from the United States of America also pushed the English language to the forefront of becoming a global language. With the culmination of the second world war, the United States of America, being one of the major countries involved and relatively the only country to not have suffered devastating effects of the war. This allowed the United States of America to become the world's largest superpower, this along with the advent of certain technological and Western media, pushed English even further into the limelight to establish itself as the lingua franca almost indefinitely. Only time will tell whether or not English will continue its rise throughout the globe and what effects it will have on those countries that will possibly lose some of their identity in their native languages due to this theory of an all-encompassing global language.

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