Riassunto esame English I, prof. Rossi, libro consigliato The future of English, Greddol
3 ENGLISH TODAY – Chapter 1
Reasons for this language to have become global
Britain’s colonial expansion / slave trade/invasions (the British Empire) established the pre-conditions for the global
use of English (16 century), taking it from its birthplace to settlements around the world (and especially in North
America), in this way the language has grown up in contact with other languages and became a hybrid one, in a
constant, rapid evolution to meet communicative skills.
But English would probably have declined, had it not be for the rise of the USA as a world superpower and its growing
role during the 20th century ( powerful and industrialized, the world’s third most populous country).
For the spread of English the aftermath of WWII was decisive, as well as the American influence( it was involved in the
reconstruction plan of Europe)
English today = joint outcome of Britain’s colonial expansion and the recent activity of the US.
The advent of printing (1476)
The industrial revolution (flowering of vocabulary)
Modernity (from poets to novels)
Spread of knowledge and technology (information exchange for a very low cost)
Trade (good exchanges)
Movement of people (to find employment possibilities) -> Migration
Trade, good exchanges with the various countries in the world (east for the majority)
leading edge for technology and innovation
Institution of science were founded such as the Royal Society in Britain
Scientific/economic articles, intellectual property produced in English
It can be considered easier to learn than some other languages, for the alphabet derived from Latin, the grammar…
but it’s not surely easy for the vocabulary, which is continuously changing as new words come out every day.
We needed a common, universal language for communication purposes.
FUTUROLOGY – Chapter 2
What will the future of English be?
It will be subjected to 3 types of change:
1) Changes to the LANGUAGE itself (derived from the contact with other languages) in: pronunciation,
vocabulary, grammar, text types and genres
2) Changes in STATUS, it may acquire different meaning and pattern of usage among non-native speakers
3) It will be affected by QUANTITATIVE changes such as in the number of speakers
The dynamics of change are likely to be different within the three communities : L1, L2 and EFL.
How does a language change? (main factors of shifts/key drivers of linguistic change)
• Fashion in slang used among native speakers
Shift that occurs when a community or family abandons one language and starts to use another as a 1
• When it is imposed from outside: by the government, market liberalization (economic power of the language)
• New technology plays an important role in the development of innovation in language : Internet
• Elements of influence: social contact, fashion in clothing…
• Young people are the leaders of change
• Social and geographical mobility (people moving from a country to another) -> language contact (hybrid
• Demographic shifts
Changes in the L1 circle cannot happen rapidly, and will depend mainly on demographic shifts( birth rate, migration):
populations in the English-speaking countries are fairly stable.
The L2 circle will change more substantially over a generation or two (forecasting it is quite a complex process)
The EFL community is potentially the most volatile: shifts here occur quickly – within a decade- as a result of
developing countries or a change of public interest (demand for the Business English Certificate is a way to forecast it)
There’s a mathematical approach used to model such complex systems called the “chaos theory”(also used for
weather forecasting) which can help forecasting the future of E. in several ways: analyzing the ‘behaviour’ of that
language and then making short-term predictions with some success, but long term predictions are likely to go badly
It analyzes the dynamics of the overall system as well as the local conditions.
Native speakers may feel the language belongs to them, but it will be those who speak English as a second or foreign
language who will determine its future!
GLOBAL TRENDS – Chapter 3
As the demographic shape of the world changes, so will the relative status of different languages;
the language people speak shows two main influences: the speech of the community they are born into (for an
increasing number of the world population is a multilingual one) and the languages people learn through life as a
consequence of education, employment, migration and mobility.
The major patterns of language change are expected in countries of increasing youth: Africa, Asia, South America.
Migration in particular has shaped the development of English across the world (slave trade, colonization).
=\ Decolonization (from India, Caribbean to Britain)
The demographic shift may prove to be the most significant factor of all in determining the future of global English in
the next century.
The world economy
Languages gain economic power: a language which is spoken by rich countries is more attractive to learners because
of its business potential.
A way of estimating the economic strength of a language is to rank the economy of the countries where native
Consequence: the language popularity will follow markets, ‘the merchant speaks the customer’s language’.
English has become the major business lingua franca (sole language for 64 countries), is extensively used among
non-native countries to conduct their business (German -25 countries like French- is also used but mainly for informal
communications and by neighboring countries).
The overall pattern seems to encourage the use of English globally, but as patterns of trade change, so patterns of
language may change: the key of understanding the future of business English lies in the extent to which other
languages become important trade lingua francas for international trade within Asia and Latin America (Chinese,
The role of technology
English today has been shaped by the effects of the Industrial Revolution, and technology has proved to be indeed of
profound significance to culture and language; e.g.: computers were inventions of English-speaking countries ( but
with the development of software and operative systems in other local languages the use of English through the
Internet is destined to decline).
Britain was also the first country to open up its entire phone traffic: enormous capacity and falling prices.
Globalization openness of markets internationally, to the exchange of goods, cultures, technologies
Globalization has played a very important role in the development of English, transnational corporations and their
activities are doubtless helping its promotion (global distribution of labour -> working is dispersed)
In transnational activities there is a growing need for people to communicate with each other in a different common
language: new working practices (as a result more people in a growing variety of jobs will need certain competencies
The transition to a ‘weightless’ economy increased the need for communication across national borders, so more
people will need to acquire a higher proficiency in English.
The immaterial economy
As national economies mature, there is always a trend away from the primary and secondary sectors towards the
‘tertiary’ sector, made up of service industries (effect of globalization), new forms of global teleworking (screen based
labour) are emerging and an increased proportion of the value of goods is produced through language activity.
English-speaking countries are able to join this global business since many of the jobs require a near native-speaker
competence: those countries in which E. is a first or second language will have a clear economic advantage (situation
that will change in the future in favor of bilingual and other language-speakers).
English ha also become the language of design, advertising and marketing, object of style and trend; Branding is a
way in which value can be added to material goods through immaterial means.
The ultimate drivers of language are the people who use it.
The increase in people flow relates to significant changes: the rise of world trade, new cultural diasporas, wider
dispersed families, tourism….(international travel has a globalizing effect)
English is the dominant language of intercontinental communication; but growing of intraregional trade and financial
dealings amongst Chinese-speaking business (with Thailand, Indonesia) interests will strengthen the role of Mandarin
or Cantonese which will become lingua francas.
Proficiency in English may be one of the mechanisms for dividing those who have access to wealth and information
from those who don’t, and it could also be linked to the decreased use of endangered languages.
Language of power, success and prestige!
• Access to hi-technology - Internet (not for everybody)
• Access to certain jobs
• Poverty may also depend on access to the lingua franca of a global elite (privileged social position)
• Destruction of cultural diversity -> language extinction (also depending on global demographic trends)
IMPACTS ON ENGLISH – Chapter 4
Tendency: rethink of the way activities are carried out and managed: “process re-engineering” (organizational changes
such as ‘outsourcing’) and a management which is less hierarchical and operation units are dispersed with decisional
More workers are expected to become proficient in English and to have a wider range of linguistic abilities.
We can distinguish 2 types of working English:
- communication with other professionals and workers with the same line of work (specialized language needs);
- communication with people who are not members of the trade or profession themselves
New working patterns: DEMANDS on an employee’s competence in E. are rising.
Education and training
English-medium teaching is permitting internationalization of higher education and adult training; new kinds of
international education: distance educations thanks to the hi-technologies.
Although there are no clear rivals to English yet, its dominance could in the future be challenged; there are 4 factors
that might upset the universal trend towards English as the 1 foreign language at school:
1) Competition from other languages outside of Europe (Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian,
2) Education systems may include the right to a mother tongue education
3) REGIONALIZATION may encourage the use of a non-English lingua franca for their trading purposes
4) New political spirit of NEIGHBOURLINESS may encourage the study of languages from adjacent countries.
Another educational trend is the teaching of a growing number of courses in universities through the medium of
English (CLIL) -> English-medium higher education is one of the drivers of language shift, from L2 to L1 E-speaking
status. The global media
Today the media is an international industry
BBC world service, CNN international, satellite television: when they first established there was a need to use
one of the ‘big’ languages (English, Chinese, Spanish)
Then a need for LOCALIZATION emerged and many programs started moving into languages other than
English (Hindi, Spanish, Portuguese – Brazil – based on the locations) to reach the elite social classes of Asia
Satellite TV leads, though, towards a cultural fragmentation, instead of unifying all those it reaches.
Global teenagers are a new “driving force” -> baby boom caused a major demographic shift in global youth, the
populations of the big 3 (USA, Europe, Japan) have aged, those of the developing countries are becoming younger
(Asia, Latin America..)
Young people are today becoming the target of a globalized industry in media, consumer products and fashion (‘Sony-
Benetton’ culture) so, the future of English as a global language may depend on how the language is taken up and
used by young adults in Asian countries.
The result is that other languages will be increasingly important to the world’s young, who are encouraged to celebrate
Branding is used to communicate a set of values and attitudes: environmental and social issues, appreciation of
diversity and human rights.
Computer technology changed the way people interact both locally and globally, and it’s regarded as the flagship of
global English (Internet carries English language services, 90% of the world’s computers connected to the internet are
based in E-speaking countries, traffic and websites are rooted in English)
The system is not only encouraging the use of English but also transforming it.
Time and place
The consequence of economic regionalization could mean the end of English as a lingua franca; as countries rise in
economic status, they become the source of skills and technology for neighboring countries: Hong Kong and
Singapore relocating their productions to mainland China.
This analysis suggests that the present phase of globalization has favored the E. language, primarily because flows
and relationships have been between the big 3 countries and developing economies.
The next phase may favor regional languages = the need to teach a regional lingua franca arises.
English could also take advantage of the economic benefits of being located in a time zone between the USA (New
York) and Japan (Tokyo).
+1 anno fa
I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher Starsnstriped di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di English I e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Carlo Bo - Uniurb o del prof Rossi Enrica.
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