English - An International Language 英语 - 一种国际通用的语言

英语是属于印欧语系日耳曼语言支派的一种语言。世界上约有三亿七千七百万左右的人们是以英语为他们的母语 ;还有三亿七千五百万左右的人们以英语为他们的第二语言。以英语为第二语言的人数在不久就很快要超过以英语为母语的人数了。

大约有七亿五千万人把英语作为外语来使用。在世界上有七十五个国家把英语作为官方语言或者具有特殊地位的语言。这样的话,说英语的总人数就超过了二十亿人口。

英语在世界语言交流中占有极其主要的地位,这是不可否认的事实。在外交,国际交流,经商,旅游,和科技,计算机技术,媒体和万维网上英语的应用更是不言而喻的。因为英语是发展通讯,技术,程序设计,软件等方面的习惯用语,因此就在万维网上占了统治的地位。以电子方法保存的信息中有百分之七十是以英语来保存的。

十九世纪的英国殖民主义者,二十世纪美国资本主义者及美国对科技发展的推广,无疑是把英语推向世界的主要动力。

在第五世纪,英语进入了不列颠群岛。而从十五世纪开始,英国开始成为航行在世界的海洋上探险者,殖民主义者和帝国族主义者,他们把英语带到了北美洲,加拿大,和加勒比海域各岛屿,带到南非,澳大利亚和新西兰,南亚地区(特别是印度),非洲的英国殖民地,东南亚和南太平洋地区。

在近百年里,美国在很多地方是世界的中心。而在十九世纪末和二十世纪初,美国迎接了成千上万因为战争,贫困和饥荒而逃到美国的欧洲移民。这些劳动力使美国如虎添翼,在经济上突飞猛进。好莱坞的影片也吸引诸多的外籍演员,希望能 在好莱坞碰到好运气从而成名,因此美国的电影年复一年地如潮水般地涌入国际市场。在一九一九年,德国和联盟国之间签订了终止第一次世界大战的凡尔赛协议,虽然那时 的外交语言是使用法语,但是美国总统伍德罗·威尔逊成功地使那个协议 也用英文写成。 因为英文跃入外交语言的行列,因此也就渐渐地进入了与经济有关的领域,也逐渐地代替了媒体中的其他语言。

今后英语是否继续能成为世界通用的语言,这将取决于世界政治,经济,世界人口和文化的趋势。从二十一世纪初开始,世界将进入一个转变的阶段。根据某些专家的分析,快速经济全球化是与英语的广泛运用齐头并进的。越来越多的人们受到各方面的鼓励使用英语而不是他们的母语。而另一方面,可以预期一个更快的变化阶段就要来临,对很多人来说这个变化过程将是一个不很自在而且有可能是带有伤害性的经历。于是,从另一个方面来看,就是:就在将来的二十几年里,对目前世界通用的英语和那些对习惯于英语的人来说将是一个至关重要阶段。而至今建立起来的英文应用模式和大众对英文的态度将会对英语的世界前景有很带的影响。

来源: http://www.studyenglishtoday.net/english_language.html


讨论问题:

1.   你为什么要学英语?

2.   你是否同意英语是一种国际通用的语言?

3.   还有什么语言你认为也是国际通用的语言?

4.   除了英语以外你还想学什么语言?

English is part of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It is spoken as a native language by around 377 million and as a second language by around 375 million speakers in the world. Speakers of English as a second language will soon outnumber those who speak it as a first language.

Around 750 million people are believed to speak English as a foreign language. English has an official or a special status in 75 countries with a total population of over 2 billion.

The domination of the English language globally is undeniable. English is the language of diplomacy and international communications, business, tourism, education, science, computer technology, media and Internet. Because English was used to develop communication, technology, programming, software, etc, it dominates the web. 70% of all information stored electronically is in English.

British colonialism in the 19th century and American capitalism and technological progress in the 20th century were undoubtedly the main causes for the spread of English throughout the world.

The English language came to British Isles from northern Europe in the fifth century. From the fifteenth century, the British began to sail all over the world and became explorers, colonists and imperialists. They took the English language to North America, Canada and the Caribbean, to South Africa, to Australia and New Zealand, to South Asia (especially India), to the British colonies in Africa, to South East Asia and the South Pacific.

The USA has played a leading role in most parts of the world for the last hundred years. At the end of the 19th century and first quarter of the 20th, it welcomed millions of European immigrants who had fled their countries ravaged by war, poverty or famine. This labor force strengthened American economy. The Hollywood film industry also attracted many foreign artists in quest of fame and fortune and the number of American films produced every year soon flooded the market. Before the Treaty of Versailles (1919), which ended the First World War between Germany and the Allies, diplomacy was conducted in French. However, President Woodrow Wilson succeeded in having the treaty in English as well. Since then, English started being used in diplomacy and gradually in economic relations and the media.

The future of English as a global language will depend very largely on the political, economical, demographic and cultural trends in the world. The beginning of the 21st century is a time of global transition. According to some experts, faster economic globalization is going hand in hand with the growing use of English. More and more people are being encouraged to use English rather than their own language. On the other hand, the period of most rapid change can be expected to be an uncomfortable and at times traumatic experience for many people around the world. Hence, the opposite view, that the next 20 years or so will be a critical time for the English language and for those who depend upon it. The patterns of usage and public attitudes to English which develop during this period will have long-term effects for its future in the world.

*Sources:

David Crystal
The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, Cambridge University Press, 1995.
English as a global language, Cambridge University Press, 1997.

David Graddol
The Future of English?, London The British Council, 1997

Source:  http://www.studyenglishtoday.net/english_language.html






Discussion questions:

1.     Why are you learning to speak English?

2.     Do you agree that English is an international language? 

3.     What other languages do you think is an international language?

4.     Are there other languages you would like to learn besides English?

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