The English language is in question

The English language and I do not get along. In fact, we are enemies. As a blogger, editor and book writer, I face the challenges of English daily. Not because it is my second language, although I do get asked “how is your English so good if you are an immigrant?” to the point that the question no longer has the lengthy answer attached to it. To me, the English language is a multi-purpose, universal tool without the advanced features.

I keep this tool in my pocket and use this tool for survival in real life and in online life. Through the English language I have two lives and can connect with all of the other peoples that have the same tool, thanks to English-speaking immigrants killing Indians by “war, murder, and introduced diseases” (Diamond 328) upon entering the Americas, and forcing them to adopt English. The world now is too forced to adopt English like a new infectious disease. But thanks to its infectious character, this tool provides me with water, food and sleep, with physical safety and economic security, with love and acceptance and with prestige and status. I am more fortunate than those who do not have the same type of tool and have to stay cold during winters and thirsty during summers, have to fight war and have to hold onto their dear civil rights.

The English language is a tool that provides a base, but from the top of hierarchy of needs, it cannot provide me with self-actualization: with challenges, with innovation and with creativity. I want to tweak the English language. I want to apply different settings and commands. But all I get is wit, wordiness and rhymes.

I have to re-invent the English language; I have to create a culture for it. Although this tool is easy to use, it requires manual application of extra features.
The English discourse, as defined by Alastair Pennycook, is another problem I have with the English language. The English language as the object of linguistic imperialism provides that I am contributing to domination of other peoples. Not because the English-speakers are smarter or better at anything in particular, they are just better at borrowing and persuading.

Am I marketing the English language tool, am I justifying domination? Am I the living proof that English is a neutral, natural and beneficial tool because it is a tool of survival for me? Am I really just looking at the Eurocentric side of the English language and praising it as the only smart tool, the only tool that is bigger and better than the rest?

Jared Diamond, an award-winning professor and American scientist travels and works around the world for decades in order to write “Guns, Germs and Steel.” He takes on a quest to explain how history became known from a Eurocentric approach, how Africa became black and how China became Chinese. One question Jared asks: “why are the Eurasian societies literate?” Historical science and evolutionary geology and biology explain this.

The English language as a tool of survival has insane amounts of history in these fields. The way history describes dominantly white and dominating continents versus Asia, Africa, New Guinea and Pacific Islands is just one example of why English is the not-so-new tool of the more fortunate. Before the English language, there were “infectious diseases, steel tools and manufactured products(23)" which paved way for domination: this is the history of haves and have nots, the history of borrowing and winning.

The English language too, borrows and plays a role in world domination. It borrows, because there isn’t much of the actual language itself (only 10% is actually English). The English language becomes the tool of “progress”, “unification” and “betterment of the human societies.” It was the language of colonialism and it is now the language of Americanization and modern globalization.

Jared Diamond explains the “impending disappearance (17) of world’s 6,000 surviving languages” as the English replacement of those languages, even if 1,000 of those come from New Guinea (27). The English language tool is bigger and better because it encompasses all of the other tools smarter and faster.

Items Cited:
“Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond.
“The Cultural Politics of English as an International Language” by Alastair Pennycook.


moon girl said...

Thanks for the kind comment!