• Thu. May 23rd, 2024

English still rules the world, but that’s not necessarily OK. Is it time to curb its power? | Michele Gazzola


Dec 27, 2023

For fluent speakers, there are clear benefits – for others, there are huge costs. Here are some ways to boost linguistic justice

Anyone spending their Christmas holidays on the European mainland will likely have observed that it is quite common to meet staff in shops and hotels who can hold a conversation in English, and to read signs and menus in the language. This fact should come as no surprise, and it is no accident: the spread of English skills in Europe is largely the result of educational policies that have intensively promoted its teaching in public schools over the past decades.

The reasons are diverse and well-known. English is a major language of culture, and it is the third most spoken language in the world as a native language, after Chinese and Spanish. Native speakers of English number about 373m (roughly 5% of the world population), mostly concentrated in six advanced industrialized democracies (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK and the US), which together produce 33% of the world’s gross domestic product in nominal terms. As a result of the colonial legacy, English is an official or co-official language in many countries of the world, mainly in Africa.

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