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The dominance of English


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Old 14-05-2006, 15:56   #1
Rachel Rachel is offline
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The dominance of English

I was reading an article on the BBC website here about the dominance of English within Europe (or even the world) and the British attitude that there is no need for them to learn another language as everyone either speaks their language or aspires to.

As far as I know recently they made it non-compulsory that kids aged 11-16 had to learn another language. Up until recently you had to. People thought that it was a waste of time as British kids are so reluctant to learn another language as they feel everyone can speak their language anyway so it is pointless. There is probably also the issue of music & tv. In Britain there is hardly ever any non-English music that gets into the charts and there are never any non-English speaking films (unless you look hard.) So it is not like the rest of Europe in that sense at all where there are a variety of languages everywhere so they have a more open mind to it all. I think the biggest problem is that no one here starts learning a language til they are in high school (aged 11) which is a stupid age to start. Kids should be taught from the time they start primary school (aged 5) as that is when they pick languages up much quicker. I probably sound like a big hypocrite here as I only speak English and a very pitiful amount of French. I think my problem (and pretty much everyone's problem) is they have no incentive. Here kids hardly ever do the exchange student thing so they are never in a position where they HAVE TO know another language. And of course there is the music & film issue I mentioned above. Lots of kids learn English so they can understand a song (which of course is pushed into every country by the big record companies) but of course we have none of that here.

So my question is...
  • Do you think English speaking people who don't learn another language are lazy?
  • Smug?
  • Do you think it should be compulsory to learn another language?
  • If yes, from what age?
  • Do you like how the world is going with it's huge English dominance? etc
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Old 14-05-2006, 16:16   #2
vanik vanik is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RowerB
I am English and I expect everyone in the world to speak English. I see no reason to learn foreign.
Yes its true, here we had an example from the "Do you understand russian language?" thread....
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Old 14-05-2006, 16:18   #3
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In my opinion, it should be compulsory to learn at least one other language, starting from when they start school. I think it is terrible that the British put so little emphasis on learning foreign languages.

I only speak English, and some French, and even less Russian and Japanese, but I would have loved the opportunity to learn more. I am currently studying A level French, which is the highest level you can do at school, but my French speaking ability is still quite poor, not because I'm bad at it, but because I started so late (age 11) and because they only teach up to a certain standard. Yes, most kids don't want to learn another language, they don't see any reason to, but I think more would want to if they started at a younger age. I think it is ridiculous that there are so few opportunities to learn.

Also, I don't understand why we should expect everyone else to speak our language, but it seems most of the time, even if we do know another language, we don't have a chance to practice it. Even when I try to speak to someone in their own language, they reply in English.

I would love to see what happened if America lost all it's power, what would we do then?
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Old 14-05-2006, 16:23   #4
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Quote:
Do you think English speaking people who don't learn another language are lazy?
Not really, since it's usually not their fault... The reason to why people everywhere else (or almost everywhere else) learn English is because it's an "international" language that makes it easier for people from different countries understand eachother (such as on this forum). And of course because of the current situation, it's everywhere in the big movies, in music etc. I personally didn't have a "drive" to learn a different language at a young age, and I'm not surprised English speakers don't either.

I think the fact that there is such a language is great, because it gives you the opportunity to communicate with many different people.

I can't remember when I started learning English at school, I believe I was 10 years old.

I got an extra language (Spanish) at age 13, so basically I had 3 languages all at once. I think it's a positive thing to learn as much as you can during your lifetime, but I think that's just a personal taste. Some people just aren't interested in languages. Since English is so widely known, I really don't think it's a huge issue... I just think that learning different languages is positive for the individual.

I must say though, even though I wasn't interested in learning different languges when I was a kid, looking back on it now, I wish they would have taught me earlier. I mean when I was around 6-7 years old. That would have probably worked better if I had a certain language spoken around me all day (Such as Swedish, which I started learning at age 6). It's just so frustrating to learn a new language when you're older.
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Old 14-05-2006, 16:25   #5
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I don't mind the English dominance, as I think it's good that we have a world language. However, I don't really think English is the best (easiest) alternative, as it's pretty hard on grammars. If you wanna learn English when you're old, you're a gonner. Hehehe. But aye, English is cute. I mix in tons of English words when I speak Norwegian. Especially when I write. Hehe. So yeah, I don't mind English at all.

In Norway we have to learn English at the age of 6 and you have it until you're 18 (I chose English-class, so that's why I've had it longer than usual). I think people in english-speaking countries should learn another language from that same early age, as I think everyone should at least speak 2 languages just to have a broad horizon, and also to get a much more complexed and varied mother tongue, since other languages can shape and influence the world language - English.

Smug?

So yeah, I think English speaking people who don't learn another language are lazy, but it's more the culture that has made it so - as you say ... so yeah, I don't really blame the kids. I hated German when I was learning it on school. Luckily I don't have it any more, but I've discovered that it is a pretty decent language anyways. I thought it was so ugly before, now I don't. All in all, people can't regret learning another language. It's cool to understand someone from another country than yourself!
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Old 14-05-2006, 16:27   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyro
I don't understand why we should expect everyone else to speak our language, but it seems most of the time....I would love to see what happened if America lost all it's power
I think that perhaps everybody speaks english just because is the easiest language to learn not because of the american power... dont worry...

Quote:
Originally Posted by QueenBee
I got an extra language (Spanish) at age 13,
omg... so you can understand spanish QueenBee? Que calladito lo tenías bonita jajaja
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Old 14-05-2006, 16:29   #7
QueenBee QueenBee is offline
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Yeah, I agree that learning another language is always a positive thing in the long run, although I can see how it can be boring and you just lose any interest in general if you are forced into it.

Oh and may I say "Wow" at how young you people were when you started learning another language! (11 years old? 6?!)

Quote:
I think that perhaps everybody speaks english just because is the easiest language to learn
Is it really the easiest language...? I do think it has got to do with power. I know nothing about history ('cause I suck) but I'm pretty sure that language wasn't chosen by the whole world because it's the easiest to learn... I bet people were either forced to do so. Or maybe the language was spread around the world some hundered years ago... Yeah, as I said, history class is not my friend.

I bet there's some rare language somewhere in Africa that's waaaay easier, though.
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Old 14-05-2006, 16:30   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vanik
I think that perhaps everybody speaks english just because is the easiest language to learn not because of the american power... dont worry...
But I think we only got to the point where English has such a dominance because of the power and influence of English speaking nations.
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Old 14-05-2006, 16:31   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vanik
easiest language to learn not because of the american power
Not true. English would be dead hard to learn if it wasn't for the american cultural dominance in the west. I promise you, english would never have been as big as it is today if it wasn't for america. You can always say it's because of the big ol' british empire, but no, Europe would never have picked up the english language without america. I think French would've been _the_ world language without english to compete with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by QueenBee
(11 years old? 6?!)
We have English from the age of 6, but that's something new. I started on school when I was 7 and started on english when I was 8 or 9. Now they start at the age of 6. And we have to choose a C-language (usually French or German) at the age of 12/13.
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Old 14-05-2006, 16:43   #10
vanik vanik is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by draddel
I think French would've been _the_ world language without english to compete with it.
I dont think so... perhaps spanish would be in that case
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Old 14-05-2006, 16:47   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vanik
I dont think so... perhaps spanish would be in that case
Hmm... not impossible, but after the numbers, there are about the same amount of french-speaking people around the world as there are english speaking people. More than there are spanish-speaking either way... But yeah, the latino-thingie could've been big here in the west, since it is already. Heh.
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Old 14-05-2006, 16:55   #12
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What are the "big" languages in Europe? Is it not English, German and French?
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Old 14-05-2006, 17:06   #13
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Not sure about Europe, but here are the top languages in the world.

Click.
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Old 14-05-2006, 17:16   #14
vanik vanik is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachel
Not sure about Europe, but here are the top languages in the world.

Click.
Its clear then that spanish is wider spread around the world than french or german...
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Last edited by vanik; 14-05-2006 at 17:48.
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Old 14-05-2006, 17:39   #15
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There has been several lingua francas during human history, it's a political and economical need, and the 'chosen' language is always the language of a dominant power.

The reason of English dominance is no different. It was first spread by the expansion of British colonization, at its peak the British Empire ruled one third of the planet and English was the de facto official language. And when the power of the British Empire faded into the dust of history, it was replaced by the rising power of the USA, reinforcing even further the dominance of English.

The problem is that lingua francas are not only a communication tool, they are also a tool of cultural opression (a blatant example of that would be the eurovision contest people are talking about in another thread, almost all entries are in English regardless of the country they represent and that's just pathetic) but it's nothing new, it's been constantly happening in human history.


However, i disagree with some of the people above, English is by far the simplest language of the Indo-European familly. Indo-European languages are very complex highly synthetic languages (meaning that words are highly inflected, which is always very difficult to learn for a non-native), but English is a remarkable exception. English used to be highly synthetic as well, but in the last thousand years, it has evolved in an absolutely unique fashion losing one by one almost *all* its inflections and becoming more and more analytic (no other Indo-European language has evolved in such a radical way). English is now almost entirely analytic (meaning that words are mostly invariable, which is much easier to learn for a non-native), almost as analytic as Chinese (which is fully analytic) and many linguists think that English will indeed become fully analytic at some point in the future.
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Old 14-05-2006, 17:42   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachel
Do you think English speaking people who don't learn another language are lazy?
In my view, they are not lazy. Instead, they do not see the importance of learning another language when, in fact, English is widely used. Rather, it is the "international" language.
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Old 14-05-2006, 17:52   #17
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I grew up speaking Dutch, but since I lived pretty close to the German border I also learned some German as a little girl (this was before I was 3 years old). But when I was 3 we moved away and my German knowledge faded away..
When I was 10 years old, they started teaching English at school. It was hilarious because those books were REALLY old and falling apart and stuff
When I was 12 I started learning French but I sucked at that because the teacher was nothing but a bunch of shit -_-'
When I was 13 they started teaching German and that was really easy.
Right now I study English. I've had German classes 'till I was 17, and French 'till I was 15..

I think it's normal for people to speak English, because it's the international language. But I'd like native-English-speakers to speak some other language too. For example: When I'm on a holiday in France there are hardly any Frenchspeaking people that can speak English. So it can be a problem when you're fluent in one language only..
Do people from the states or from britain have german or french or spanish classes at school?
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Old 14-05-2006, 18:00   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Winkie
Do people from the states or from britain have german or french or spanish classes at school?
I think it's normal over here to take one of those from the age of 9 or 11, depending on what type of school you go to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Winkie
When I'm on a holiday in France there are hardly any Frenchspeaking people that can speak English.
Really? Whenever I go to France, I speak French but usually get an English reply Maybe it just depends where you go...
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Old 14-05-2006, 18:05   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyro
I think it's normal over here to take one of those from the age of 9 or 11, depending on what type of school you go to.
It's not compulsory anymore though. So there's gonna be A LOT less kids learning languages in Britain. I think it's down to the school to decide what it wants to do.
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Old 14-05-2006, 18:07   #20
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My mother said that it was because computer text is written in English. As for me, my first language is English (I get English and French spelling mixed up sooo much sometimes, you woud think that and I go to school in English, but living in Montreal you have to know French, so I do. I can also read and write in Hebrew, which I learned when I was in grade 1 and 2 because of my religion...

My mother thinks English is so popular because computer text is written in English. Me, I don't really know what to think about it... I say it's the influence of music and television.

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I thought Chinese was the most spoken language, isn't it???
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