Why is English the International Language?

1. At one time it was said that the sun never set on the British Empire because it was so vast that it extended around the world and it was always daylight in one part of it. Even the United States was a part of this global empire.

2. Of course English spread as an international lingua franca but so did French, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic. Chinese and Italian and other languages were also to some extent global languages because their inhabitants spread around the world and made their languages widely spoken outside their country of origin. But how did English eclipse the other world languages and become the dominant means of communication in the digital age?

3. At the end of World War Two the economic powerhouse of Europe was decimated. The major colonial powers France and Britain had been destroyed by the war with Germany and Japan and the survivor was the United States which had entered the war late and escaped the destruction which Europe and Asia had seen.

4. It was American money, which financed the rebuilding of Europe and the rebuilding of Japan and English became an important language of business because it was the language of the investors and builders and developers. At one time French competed for ascendancy with English but after America became the largest economy in the world, the success of English as the world language was assured. Economic power has a tremendous influence on all aspects of life and human culture.

5. Nowadays Chinese and Spanish speaking businesspeople communicate in English. Asian and European investors negotiate in the language of Shakespeare. Even Africans and South Americans are learning the language of the largest economy left intact at the end of the 1939-1945 conflict.

6. But economics is not everything. Is there a place for other languages? Will Mandarin or Arabic or Hindi one day occupy the place that English has as the world language? How do you see the future in terms of a world language?

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