‘1500 US dollars prize for writing in English!’
The headline lured me to open and read the news. The news read- Young and enthusiastic Nepali group have set up a platform to promote English Language Writing and one chosen writer will be granted THE ANNUAL SHININGPENS WRITER AWARD OF US$ 1500.
I am a regular writer of Nepali language articles and literary pieces. Before switching to Nepali writing, I had written few articles in English but was never satisfied with the quality of writing and had stopped it. But the attractive news rekindled my desire to write in English.
I sat in front of a computer screen with my fingers on the keyboard. I stared at the computer screen for several seconds thinking about what to write, but nothing came up in my mind. I had no idea what to write and where to start so, I thought of giving up. Given the level of my English language and my writing skills, I sadly convinced myself that the prize money was not for me. With that thought, I felt I found a good excuse for not writing, but something inside was pushing me to write, it was not letting me remove my fingers from the keyboard. So, I could not help but write something. While I was struggling to find some eye-catching topic, an idea splashed into my mind- why not I write about the English language itself?
I started my A-B-C-D in 4th grade in school. While in school, I had read one article titled ‘English Is an International Language’ but now I realized that the topic of the article was wrong because English is no more an International language; it is a Universal Language. Not only general communication but also technology, literature, and space exploration are dominated by English. It will be no surprise if one day is not far future, two aliens from another star system will be talking in English.
Well, two aliens talking in English might be an exaggerated example but currently, two strangers from different parts of the world must use English to communicate.
Because of improved transportation systems and communication technology, the world is a small global village, and it has helped English to spread quicker than ever before. Most, if not all, technology and the business world are controlled by the English language. English is the only language for coding on a computer. English is a must to have skill for pilots flying internationally. No matter where the company originates, all multinational companies operating globally use English as their common communication language. Being proficient in the English language means a well-paid job, comfortable life, better approaches everywhere and more importantly, respect from others. So, everybody and every country are striving to learn it. There is almost no way to avoid English unless we return to the ancient lifestyle.
So, for a number of reasons every individual and every country is forced to accept English rather than to fight it. China, the biggest rival of the west for political and cultural issues, has made the English language a mandatory subject in all its schools and colleges. India has already embraced English as if it was its own language. Brazil and Russia are also promoting English. This is a global trend.
There was a time in the past when England and other European countries colonized most parts of the world and everybody was strived to copy western culture, their clothing cultures, their food, their lifestyle. But now English language has colonized the whole world, and every single person feels pride in knowing a little bit of ‘ABCDs.’ If one wants to learn new ideas, English is a must; if another wants to be heard by a global audience, English is a must; if someone wants to be in any global position, English is a must and; if someone wants to do research in any topic, it is almost impossible without English. So, English has invaded every part of the world and every aspect of life. This invasion is not like political and cultural invasion which was done forcefully. English is invading softly but its impact is much more devastating to other languages in long run. Being a soft invader, it is not opposed but on contrary, it is welcomed everywhere.
Supporters of the English language argue that the world needed a lingua franca and, in that sense, the emergence of English as a global language to fulfill that gap benefits everybody. That may be true, but the key concern is- English is eating up other languages systematically and the way it is spreading, there is a risk that one day, it will wipe out most of the world languages.
Language researchers and scholars arguably agree that languages transform, they do not decline. That is partially true for English and other bigger language family but not necessarily true for many smaller languages. We can find in history books that many languages have disappeared completely, and they will never reborn again. Currently, there are many other languages in the world which are on the verge of extinction. No one can predict the future and it is difficult to say with assertions that what will be the future direction of the language development, but the current trend is down falling of many old languages with no new language appearing into the scene. It is a one-directional change.
On one hand, many smaller languages are disappearing from the global arena, on the other hand, English is spreading to fill that gap. Currently, almost one-third of the world population speaks English either as their first language or second language and another one-third of the population which prefers itself to label as ‘educated group’ is willingly or unwillingly forced to learn English. The remaining one-third of the population, which is still not touched by the English language yet, will also be forced to learn English sooner or later. It is just a matter of time.
There is not a single country on the map which dares to say ‘No English.’ If the spread and its dominance continue English shall be much stronger in the future and eventually it may emerge as the only global language giving a ‘choice of obligation’ to learn it.
Whether we like it or not, we have to accept English and its invasion. We have to learn it, we have to speak it and we have to write it. The world is doing it happily without realizing the colossal impact it may bring to their native languages to die. If you want to live happily in Rome, do what the Romans are doing.
What can be more ironic than this- a group of Nepali youth is proudly promoting English and I am also using English to express my dissatisfaction about the invasive nature of the English language?
Is English a killer language or a language of prestige? Find the answer later but learn English now.
The writer frequently writes on the socio-political issues of Nepal and is also a published writer of books in the Nepali language.