The Effects of Making English More Widespread

In his article “The Future of Language,” Samuel Victor discusses the implications of something called lingua franca English, a language resembling English that can help non-native speakers more easily communicate with native ones. On the one hand, there are a number of benefits to implementing something like this. Teaching a language like this more often is important because English is so widespread throughout the world, and an inability to understand or communicate with native English speakers puts one at a huge risk of being cut off from much of society.

At the same time, getting into the habit of making English a more widely spoken language puts the burden on people in non-English-speaking countries because they have to learn English in order to get decent jobs in English-speaking countries, and so those economies have to devote time to making sure their citizens can speak English when they could be spending more time on things to improve their own societies.

Furthermore, the notion of LFE becoming more widespread poses a threat to cultural diversity, and it only serves to worsen the hegemony that native English speakers already hold over non-native ones. This is especially the case since aspects of LFE involve some parts of English that have a connection to English-speaking cultures. Some people have argued that if we want people who speak different languages to be on equal footing, it actually makes more sense to encourage English speakers to learn other languages instead.

Ultimately, the widespread teaching of LFE is not a neutral practice, even if proponents of it try to find ways to minimize the harms. It is impossible to deny that trying to make English a more widespread language serves as a threat to cultural diversity, but at the same time we need to acknowledge that the language barriers that exist between countries as it stands are currently inhibiting non-native English speakers from being able to interact with a large part of the world.