Multilingualism Essay

1387 words - 6 pages

Imagine finding yourself in a strange place where no one speaks your language or understands you and you cannot find anyone to help you. This is a very possible scenario in a world of so many tongues and cultures. Because international travel and communication via the internet are becoming more and more common, the chances of needing language proficiency are growing. Resistance and closed mindedness of some groups have prevented the spread of multilingualism, which is much needed in an ever shrinking global society.
There are many ways to acquire proficiency in languages other than your own. Most schools in the U.S. and around the world teach foreign languages, and in ...view middle of the document...

Eighty percent of internet content is in English, but 44% of online users speak another language at home. English will probably remain the most commonly used language on the net for the foreseeable future, for it is the world's most commonly understood one (Fishman 4).
English is the first language in 427 countries. English is the second language in 350 countries. English is the most taught foreign language in 100 countries. English has an official status in 70 countries. "English is taking over the world", said University of Alaska language expert Michael Kraus (Ferrell and Hotz 2).
Forty percent of the world's gross domestic product comes from predominantly English speaking countries. English competency is becoming a prerequisite for promotions and appointments in more and more countries. In the European Commission, although French is used more often than English, English is preferred among younger officials. Many believe that English will soon replace French as the language of the diplomats. English is the primary language for many of the European Unions businesses, EU newsletters, European Central Bank, and most other economic communications (Fishman 8)
The United States seems to be a very dominate power in the world, yet it has done little to make it's citizens multilingual. Although the country was founded on principals which protected the rights of it's citizens, and the founding fathers for this reason chose not to declare an official language, very few Americans believe that people have the right to speak whichever language they choose. Many small areas will seek to foster their own tongue, but limit big languages (Fishman 7). In the same way, big areas are reluctant to make accommodations to those who may speak unfamiliar languages.
Language barriers existing in the U.S. and worldwide are becoming a very serious matter. Schools, law enforcement, the courts, hospitals, and other public institutions cost more and run more slowly due to language barriers. Many tragedies occur because of barriers like these. For instance, an old man was taken in by the policemen on the street, but couldn't communicate to them where he lived or what he needed. After trying to help the man, the policemen gave up and dropped him off in a remote part of town far from his home. The man was beaten, robbed, and killed by gang members on the streets, all because no one could understand him (Ferrell and Hotz 3).
Barriers have also shown to increase racial tensions and lead to gangs and organized crime. People seek out others who speak their own language, and sometimes become bitter towards those who don't. Thus, gangs form( Ferrell and Hotz 3).
Specific examples of barriers include schools not being able to take certain students, hospitals providing poor care for patients, or police officers not being able to perform their duties. All these scenarios occur due to a simple lack of communication (Ferrell and Hotz 3).
Some groups resist multilingualism...

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