Richmond World Affairs Council

English Vs. Mandarin Chinese: The Fight for the Global Reign

As the world evolves and cultures blend, the concept of identity often becomes blurred. Slowly, English has grown more popular and come to be understood as the common tongue of the world. However, the fate of thousands of other languages is at risk of being overshadowed by English’s rapid spread and influence. Formerly regarded as the language of innovation, English dominated for centuries and started replacing many native languages, which inhibited the potential for growth of aboriginal cultures.

 

English-speaking countries imperialized many Asian and Hispanic areas, imposing English on cultures that thrived without the use of the foreign language. As John McWhorter, a linguist at the Manhattan Institute, told the New York Times, the globalization of the English language “started with the dominance of two successive English-speaking empires, British and American, and continues today with the new virtual empire of the Internet.” Many sovereign indigenous cultures became controlled by the power of English with the imperialists’ attempt to “civilize” them and suppress their identity. Globalization has largely been made possible by English dominating the international market, political sphere, and cultural immersion to cultivate a platform of common vision or objective. But English-speaking schools and the practice of teaching English as a second language in many countries has proven English’s continued role of suppressing native culture.

 

There are a few advantages of English’s potential to be the common language of the world. To speak a certain language means you begin to think the way a native individual thinks.   One comes to understand how that culture thinks and how they organize their world. It’s a vital step if one is planning to be culturally competent and understand that there are multiple perspectives. American pop culture, for instance, has a recurring theme of freedom and has attracted a wide audience. Also, it provides efficient networking and communication in politics and might reduce the possibility of misinterpretation or miscommunication that results from language barriers. In the private sphere, employees would find it easy to create cohesion between culturally distinct workforces by having English serve as a neutral language.

 

The strong disadvantages of English becoming the common language include the idea of killing centuries of values or identities within a culture that ethnic languages represent. It is important to note that despite English’s long history of dominance, the growth of Mandarin Chinese will challenge English for its throne. Mandarin Chinese is currently taking over the Asian sphere because of the country’s prominent influence in the region, and is catching up to the number of native English speakers. Chinese businesses and their economy have been booming, so it seems logical that Mandarin Chinese would be the wiser choice to start learning at a young age. For instance, American parent Leianne Clements told Voices of America, “So far, English has kind of been the universal language, but more and more, with Chinese businesses and just the amount of industry that they have there it seems that that would be…..logical that could be happening or it seems like it would make you a valuable employee if you also spoke Chinese.” Its significance will grow especially for individuals and countries that plan to cooperate and conduct business with the country.

 

Whether Mandarin Chinese becomes the universal language in the future or not does not downplay the effect English has had. It’s important to conclude that English has given many opportunities for individuals to pursue a future, but it should respect the boundaries of other native languages and their sense of autonomy.

 

References

http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/will-chinese-replace-english-as-international-language/2554910.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/09/world/asia/09iht-englede.1.5198685.html?_r=0

 

Disha Khopkar