I was really proud of the third years last week, as they discussed the issues surrounding English as a Global Language (from a social, historical and political context), in their World Englishes lecture. Team A put forward the argument suggesting English as a global language is a positive thing (someone had to take on that side!), while Team B argued against the infiltration of English and indeed of other dominant global languages.
We heard from both sides, as one person stood up and addressed me, the chair lady (Madame Chair) and put forward some incredibly succinct and powerful pros and cons. We heard how Latin was widespread and how it morphed into the wonderful Romance Languages we hear today, and how some countries really do want to learn English as a foreign language, in order to make world-wide connections, and strengthen their economies.
On the other hand, we learned that the spread of language is never neutral, and how the expanding circle of English world-wide is still viewed negatively, measured against the ‘gold standard’ of British and American Englishes. We even heard from team B about the dark-side of language infiltration, and how vulnerable people became caught up in what was known as the slave-trade, when powerful colonists took over land and peoples for their own selfish needs.
We all agreed that language change is organic and will always be a part of the make-up of linguistics, but that colonisation and conquest had a negative impact on the most vulnerable of society.
A wonderful morning was had by all.