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The Future Language of the World Will Be Broken English

The river of tongues flows towards English. As the world grasps the dominance of English and people learn various levels of it, the world’s future common language seems to be one of varying degrees of English comprehension. We will all speak or understand broken English.

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In the English world, we use 26 letters and 10 numbers to understand and explain almost everything. Besides art, an intelligent but illiterate and lonely soul would have little benefit over his equal co-worker plowing land. Besides art, an expression of one’s mental illustration, a person is limited to their collection of words to define anything. The greater the knowledge, the more combinations of oral, visual, linguistic, graphic, and artistic lengths, the better one can perform brain surgery, watch a movie, develop rocket science or anyone who wants a piece of American popular culture. Yet without the 26 letters and 10 numbers, our intellect is difficult to express, we reveal to others the apes we are.

English has developed a complicated set of rules for grammar, syntax, and order. ‘We’ English speakers have a unique Romance Language structure that defies much of what constitutes ‘rules’ in other ‘similar’ cousin languages. English is not plagued with verb conjugations, gender-specific articles, nouns, and subjects. English has a rich and vast colloquial and local vernacular subset of interpretations. In English, we have anchored a bizarre birth of purposeful linguistics against the rest of the Romance languages.

In English we are not bothered by, nor wise to, the masculine, neuter, and feminine products that afflict the rest of our language family. We do not have a plethora of accents that can change a verb to an unrelated noun and vice-versa. In fact, we infrequently come across accents save for the words Noël, naïve or résumé and rely on our word structure, our strange spellings (read/reed, read/red) and desperate intuition to distinguish sounds into coherent words.

We are not tethered to limits of expression yet many words in other languages are inexpressible in English; an approximation must do. This special language does not require the mental gymnastics the others do in our Romantic family, like French, German, Portuguese or Italian. In fact, of the 44 related languages, English is the solution to the world’s singular tongue. The global winds of desire are found in English, in its propensity to be sought, in its power to express and understand the culture, history, and identity of the West. Half of the internet is still in English. English learning burns, outshining Esperanto (a constructed candidate for a global auxiliary language) by the 400 million+ people currently studying English (versus the few thousand fluent in Esperanto). When Esperanto was developed by L. L. Zamenhof in 1887, it was intended to be a universal second language for international communication, or "the international language" (la lingvo internacia) predominantly to aid communication between the Russians, Poles, Germans, and Jews of his native Poland. But it was mostly elitists who cultivated the language and its numbers remained small, and it never made the United Nations list of official languages.

Colonization was the first major factor in the positioning of English as the breadwinning tongue as it became the official or dominant language of 75 countries or territories around the world. Since the middle of the 20th century, English has become the language of globalization and international markets. As Europe recovered from the Second World War and worked on reconstruction, the US positioned itself as an economic power, bringing English along as the global language of business.

The stage is set for anyone to learn English far greater than any second language. Access to scholastic, scientific, literary materials, now in multiplicity, and its convenience is far more available in most countries than any other language. It is the lingua franca of many industries, notably in aviation where all international pilots must speak English with a certain fluency.

The river of tongues flows towards English. Thus, as the world grasps the dominance of English and people learn various levels of it, the world’s future common language seems to be one of varying degrees of English comprehension. We will all speak or understand broken English.

More than 300 million people in the world speak English and the rest, it sometimes seems, try to.  — Bill Bryson

Driven by Latin characters, the periodic French domination of England, and the support of peripheral languages, English has emerged as the frontrunner of language studies. The competition is so fierce that a score on an international test for admission into higher learner in a Western country is a ‘mark’ that puts you into a caste hierarchy of comprehension; it can elevate or destroy a person. With fluency and accent cessation, a purer English accent is what separates one student from another. To Westerners, these ‘students’ are merely varying degrees of relative success. The ability to enjoy movies in English, to catch nuance and double-entendres, to read between the lines and grow a vocabulary is the fluency students chase in order not to lose their social order and status amongst their peers. A broken accent is hard to fix, the words get locked behind a tongue, lips and teeth that cannot express the knowledge inside to the extent of a natural speaker. Accruing age hampers the ability to study and learn and speak English with the fluency of a native speaker.

Hence why it is likely that most people who ‘speak’ English as a second or third language have problems with their constructs, limitations with verb tenses and a sliding vocabulary where one word can mean three things. If you learn ‘cup’ as a receptacle to drink out of, everything capable of carrying a liquid could be a ‘cup’, whether a wine glass or a bucket. Learning another language exposes one’s humility as they crawl through stuff methodically that a five-year old natural speaker has picked up seemingly without effort.

French has some of the most rigid rules and language laws as it is a paradigm of the trail towards a perfect mother tongue that retains its ancient Latin Vulgate purity for ancient reasons. In English, the role of letters is not exact (Russian and fifty Cyrillic-alphabet languages are phonetic meaning each letter carries a sound), it is a process of deduction; caught, fought, thought, cot, fight, thot. There’s an old example of a sentence to test or taunt your abilities: ENGLISH IS A DIFFICULT LANGUAGE TO LEARN BUT IT CAN BE TAUGHT THROUGH TOUGH  THOROUGH THOUGHT THOUGH.

The lingua franca of many businesses in the West is a second-language common to the staff. If they all tried to speak English, the levels of fluency and accent would be readily apparent, and the restaurant would suffer as ideas would not translate across the multiple levels learned. And the most fluent would be readily apparent, the best grammatically natural accented English. And that person must break down their fluency to connect with the skills of those with less training as the chances your drive-thru order will not be what you ordered, goes up.

If I try using my French, my second language, I will miss-conjugate verbs and get my genders mixed up. Someone born in France might say, “You can’t do that to our language!” as the perpetuation of bad French in the minorities and immigrants spreads, but the answer is, “Yes I can. You learn my native language and see how hard it is to cobble together words and conjugations that convey accurate meanings whether the subject-verb-object rules are adhered to or not.” This works across all languages as a learner, you grapple with the structure you have learned.

As the world closes in, as global trade accelerates, and newer generations find themselves in conflict with the next country over, there is a linguistic entropy of second languages whereby much of the information age has already ‘occurred’ on English’s watch. Companies working or creating across countries often find their resources and tools to already be universally intact in English. It dominates as native speakers of all other languages bow down to English and then study it fervently for business or private reasons. The international Baha’i religion under Baha’u’llah prescribed a two-pronged effort, to have English as the common language of the world while the national language could and would be used locally. Hence with the wealth of literary history within English, from Shakespeare to Mission Impossible VII, to the trove of translated heroes from Dante to Dostoevsky, translating great works or computer science textbooks have a lengthily head start having been translated into English. It seems destined to be in our DNA. This, too, reflects what will globally come to pass.

That the universal language of the future is broken English.


OF RUSSIA: A Year Inside

Brent (Brant is the Russian version) Antonson has seen a Russia few foreigners have. Indeed, few Russians. This young Canadian ventured to Voronezh, eleven hours south of Moscow by train, to spend a year inside a country torn by strife, fresh into a new century, and struggling with the clash between history and future. Tasked with teaching English to students at one university, and then a second, his story is riddled with romance and deception, and punctuated with near disaster and disappointment. Antonson's candor and insights set Russia on the edge of failure and achievement – much like the students he educated, filled with a dash of hope and a lump of fear. His wit did as much to get him in trouble as it did to keep him out of it.

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Brent Antonson

Published 4 days ago