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World language
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In sociolinguistics, a world language (sometimes global language,[1] rarely international language[2][3]) is a language that is geographically widespread and makes it possible for members of different language communities to communicate. The term may also be used to refer to constructed international auxiliary languages such as Esperanto.[4]
English and French are the foremost—and by some accounts only—world languages. Beyond that, there is no academic consensus about which languages qualify; Spanish, Arabic, Russian, and
Chinese,
[citation needed] are other possible world languages. Some authors consider Latin to have formerly been a world language.[5][6][7]
Concept
Various definitions of the term world language have been proposed; there is no general consensus about which one to use.[8][9]
One definition proffered by Congolese linguist Salikoko Mufwene is "languages spoken as vernaculars or as lingua francas outside their homelands and by populations other than those ethnically or nationally associated with them".[10] Linguist Mohamed Benrabah equates the term world language with what Dutch sociologistAbram de Swaan refers to as "supercentral languages" in his global language system.[11] Spanish sociolinguist Clare Mar-Molinero proposes a series of tests that a language needs to pass, relating to demographics, attitudes towards the language, and political, legal, economic, scientific, technological, academic, educational, and cultural domains.[12]
German sociolinguist Ulrich Ammon [de] says that what determines whether something is a world language is its "global function", which is to say its use for global communication, in particular between people who do not share it as a native language and with use as a lingua franca—i.e. in communication where it is not the native language of any of the participants—carrying the most weight.[13] Ammon formulates a series of indicators of globality, i.e. factors useful for assessing the extent to which a given language can be considered a world language. Chief among these indicators is the number of non-native speakers. Another indicator is the number of native speakers, which although it is not in itself a criterion for globality, empirically correlates positively with it and may influence it indirectly by making the language more attractive. Other potential indicators are economic strength (measured as the native speakers' GDP), number of countries that use the language as an official language as well as those countries' geographical distribution, international business use, and prevalence in scientific publications.[14]
Candidate languages
Arabic
Arabic has been described by Salikoko Mufwene as a world language—albeit a second-tier one after English and French due to limited use as a lingua franca—on the grounds that is a liturgical language amongst Muslim communities worldwide.[15] Mohamed Benrabah criticizes this argument due to use of the language in rituals not necessarily translating into spoken proficiency outside of religious contexts, but nevertheless categorizes it as a world language on the grounds of it being a supercentral language in de Swaan's global language system.[11]
Chinese
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English
See also: World English
Academic consensus is that English is a world language, with some authors such as British linguists David Crystal and David Graddol going so far as to consider it the only one. Authors who take a pluralist approach nevertheless consider English to inhabit a unique position as the foremost world language; for instance, in Abram de Swaan's global language system, English is the sole occupant of the highest position in the hierarchy: the hypercentral language.[11] According to German sociolinguist Ulrich Ammon [de], "[t]here is virtually no descriptive parameter or indicator for the international or global rank of a language which, if applied to today's languages worldwide, does not place English at the top".[16] Ammon and Mufwene both posit that what sets English apart as the foremost world language is its use as a lingua franca,[17][18] whereas Crystal focuses on its geographical distribution.[19]
French
French has been described as a world language due to its status as a supercentral language in de Swaan's global language system,[11] and Salikoko Mufwene characterizes it as such based on it being spoken as a lingua franca or vernacular by people neither ethnically nor nationally associated with it outside of France.[10]
Russian
Russian has been categorized as a world language on the grounds of being a supercentral language in de Swaan's global language system,[11] and is characterised as a world language by Salikoko Mufwene on the grounds that it is used as a vernacular or lingua franca outside of Russia by non-Russians.[10]
Spanish
Spanish has been categorized as a world language on the grounds of being a supercentral language in de Swaan's global language system,[11] and is considered a world language by German sociolinguist Ulrich Ammon [de] as it is spoken as a foreign language worldwide.​[20]​Salikoko Mufwene also considers it a world language—albeit a second-tier one after English and French due to limited use as a lingua franca—on the grounds that it is used as a vernacular by people neither ethnically nor nationally associated with it outside of Spain.[21]
Comparison
Languages which are often considered world languages include:[22][23][24]
Data from: Ethnologue[25]
LanguageFamily and BranchWriting systemTotal
No. of
speakers (native and non native)
Geographical distributionGlobal distribution map
EnglishIndo-European (Germanic)English (Latin) alphabet1.268 billion[26]Geographical distribution of English speakers
FrenchIndo-European (Romance)French (Latin) alphabet276.6 million[27]Geographical distribution of French speakers
Other sources denote the following languages as world languages, whilst stricter sources list them only as supra-regional languages:[28]
[failed verification]
Data from: Ethnologue[29]
LanguageFamily and BranchWriting systemTotal
No. of
speakers (native and non native)
Global distribution map
SpanishIndo-European (Romance)Spanish (Latin) Alphabet537.9 million[30]
ArabicAfro-Asiatic (Semitic)Arabic abjad335.2 million[31]
RussianIndo-European (Slavic)Russian (Cyrillic) alphabet258.0 million[32]
ChineseSino-Tibetan (Sinitic)Chinese characters1.324 billion[33]
See also
References
  1. ^ Ammon, Ulrich (2010-10-07), Coupland, Nikolas (ed.), "World Languages: Trends and Futures", The Handbook of Language and Globalization, Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, p. 101, doi​:​10.1002/9781444324068.ch4​, ISBN 978-1-4443-2406-8
  2. ^ Ammon, Ulrich (1997), Stevenson, Patrick (ed.), "To What Extent is German an International Language?", The German Language and the Real World: Sociolinguistic, Cultural, and Pragmatic Perspectives on Contemporary German, Clarendon Press, pp. 25–53, ISBN 978-0-19-823738-9
  3. ^ de Mejía, Anne-Marie (2002). Power, Prestige, and Bilingualism: International Perspectives on Elite Bilingual Education. Multilingual Matters. pp. 47–49. ISBN 978-1-85359-590-5. 'international language' or 'world language' [...] The following languages of wider communication, that may be used as first or as second or foreign languages, are generally recognised: English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Arabic, Russian and Chinese.
  4. ^ Ammon, Ulrich (1989). Status and Function of Languages and Language Varieties. Walter de Gruyter. p. 422. ISBN 978-3-11-086025-2. Retrieved 2021-02-13. By the term world language approximately the following can be understood: Firstly, [...]. Secondly, international planned languages (e.g Esperanto, Ido, Interlingua).
  5. ^ Wright, Roger (2012), Hernández-Campoy, Juan Manuel; Conde-Silvestre, Juan Camilo (eds.), "Convergence and Divergence in World Languages", The Handbook of Language and Globalization, John Wiley & Sons, p. 552, doi​:​10.1002/9781118257227.ch30​, ISBN 978-1-4051-9068-8, There is no generally agreed precise definition of what counts as a 'World' Language. For the purposes of this chapter, they can be defined as languages spoken over a wide geographical area, often as a result of previous colonization, and in many cases by native speakers of some other language. The category now includes Spanish, Portuguese, French, and English, but with reference to historically earlier periods the label has been applied to Latin [...]
  6. ^ Mufwene, Salikoko S. (2010-10-07), Coupland, Nikolas (ed.), "Globalization, Global English, and World English(es): Myths and Facts", The Handbook of Language and Globalization, Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, p. 42, doi​:​10.1002/9781444324068.ch1​, ISBN 978-1-4443-2406-8, I submit that, as in the case of that earlier 'world language,' Latin, it was the association with trade and (more) lucrative business that favored English over its competitors, both in the United States and around the world.
  7. ^ Crystal, David (2003). English as a global language (PDF) (2nd ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 190. ISBN 0-511-07862-5. OCLC 57418548. The emergence of English with a genuine global presence therefore has a significance which goes well beyond this particular language. Because there are no precedents for languages achieving this level of use (if we exclude Latin, which was in a sense 'global' when the world was much smaller), we do not know what happens to them in such circumstances.
  8. ^ García, Adolfo M. (2014-01-02). "Neurocognitive determinants of performance variability among world-language users". Journal of World Languages. 1 (1): 60–77. doi​:​10.1080/21698252.2014.893671​. ISSN 2169-8252. the notion of world language has been variously defined
  9. ^ Wright, Roger (2012), Hernández-Campoy, Juan Manuel; Conde-Silvestre, Juan Camilo (eds.), "Convergence and Divergence in World Languages", The Handbook of Language and Globalization, John Wiley & Sons, p. 552, doi​:​10.1002/9781118257227.ch30​, ISBN 978-1-4051-9068-8, retrieved 2021-04-16, There is no generally agreed precise definition of what counts as a 'World' Language. For the purposes of this chapter, they can be defined as languages spoken over a wide geographical area, often as a result of previous colonization, and in many cases by native speakers of some other language. The category now includes Spanish, Portuguese, French, and English, but with reference to historically earlier periods the label has been applied to Latin [...]
  10. ^ a b c Mufwene, Salikoko S. (2010-10-07), Coupland, Nikolas (ed.), "Globalization, Global English, and World English(es): Myths and Facts", The Handbook of Language and Globalization, Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, p. 42, doi​:​10.1002/9781444324068.ch1​, ISBN 978-1-4443-2406-8, By the middle of the twentieth century, a few European colonial languages had emerged as 'world languages,' in the sense of languages spoken as vernaculars or as lingua francas outside their homelands and by populations other than those ethnically or nationally associated with them. These included English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Benrabah, Mohamed (2014-01-02). "Competition between four "world" languages in Algeria". Journal of World Languages. 1 (1): 38–59. doi​:​10.1080/21698252.2014.893676​. ISSN 2169-8252.
  12. ^ Mar-Molinero, Clare (2004-01-01). "Spanish as a world language: Language and identity in a global era". Spanish in Context. 1 (1): 8. doi​:​10.1075/sic.1.1.03mar​. ISSN 1571-0718. By 'international' I am referring to a language spoken as a mother tongue in more than one national context. This is not necessarily (or normally) the same as a 'global' language. To define the latter it is necessary to identify certain criteria [...] The following 'tests' which I propose as necessary to meet the definition of 'global' language are based loosely on the work of David Crystal (1997) and David Graddol (1997) in respect of English as a global language. We need to ask such questions as: [...]
  13. ^ Ammon, Ulrich (2010-10-07), Coupland, Nikolas (ed.), "World Languages: Trends and Futures", The Handbook of Language and Globalization, Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 102–103, doi​:​10.1002/9781444324068.ch4​, ISBN 978-1-4443-2406-8, A concept of 'world language' which is useful for our purposes would be based on its global function, which means 'use for global communication' and can be specified further [...]
  14. ^ Ammon, Ulrich (2010-10-07), Coupland, Nikolas (ed.), "World Languages: Trends and Futures", The Handbook of Language and Globalization, Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 104–116, doi​:​10.1002/9781444324068.ch4​, ISBN 978-1-4443-2406-8
  15. ^ Mufwene, Salikoko S. (2010-10-07), Coupland, Nikolas (ed.), "Globalization, Global English, and World English(es): Myths and Facts", The Handbook of Language and Globalization, Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, p. 43, doi​:​10.1002/9781444324068.ch1​, ISBN 978-1-4443-2406-8, overlooking variation across nations, Arabic counts as a 'world language' to the extent that it is used as a religious/ritual language wherever Islam is practiced; but it does not have that status of lingua franca associated with English and French as languages of business/trade and scholarship which are also used by non-native speakers. Arabic is thus reduced to the same status as Spanish, which outside Spain is spoken mostly in Latin America, as the dominant vernacular.
  16. ^ Ammon, Ulrich (2010), "World Languages: Trends and Futures", The Handbook of Language and Globalization, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, pp. 116–117, doi​:​10.1002/9781444324068.ch4​, ISBN 978-1-4443-2406-8, There is virtually no descriptive parameter or indicator for the international or global rank of a language which, if applied to today's languages world-wide, does not place English at the top
  17. ^ Mufwene, Salikoko S. (2010-10-07), Coupland, Nikolas (ed.), "Globalization, Global English, and World English(es): Myths and Facts", The Handbook of Language and Globalization, Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, p. 43, doi​:​10.1002/9781444324068.ch1​, ISBN 978-1-4443-2406-8, It thus appears that what has made English the foremost "world language" is its function as lingua franca
  18. ^ Ammon, Ulrich (2010-10-07), Coupland, Nikolas (ed.), "World Languages: Trends and Futures", The Handbook of Language and Globalization, Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, p. 103, doi​:​10.1002/9781444324068.ch4​, ISBN 978-1-4443-2406-8, It is such usage, as lingua franca, that distinguishes English most noticeably from other languages.
  19. ^ Crystal, David (1995). The Cambridge encyclopedia of the English language. Internet Archive. Cambridge [England] ; New York : Cambridge University Press. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-521-40179-1. English is now the dominant or official language in over 60 countries (see the table on p. 109), and is represented in every continent and in the three major oceans – Atlantic (e.g. St Helena), Indian (e.g. Seychelles), and Pacific (e.g. Hawaii). It is this spread of representation which makes the application of the term 'world language' a reality.
  20. ^ Ammon, Ulrich (2010-10-07), Coupland, Nikolas (ed.), "World Languages: Trends and Futures", The Handbook of Language and Globalization, Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, p. 102, doi​:​10.1002/9781444324068.ch4​, ISBN 978-1-4443-2406-8, We would nevertheless include Spanish into the plurality of world languages with which we deal here, on the grounds that one finds those who speak it as a foreign language in countries around the world.
  21. ^ Mufwene, Salikoko S. (2010-10-07), Coupland, Nikolas (ed.), "Globalization, Global English, and World English(es): Myths and Facts", The Handbook of Language and Globalization, Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 42–43, doi​:​10.1002/9781444324068.ch1​, ISBN 978-1-4443-2406-8, By the middle of the twentieth century, a few European colonial languages had emerged as 'world languages,' in the sense of languages spoken as vernaculars or as lingua francas outside their homelands and by populations other than those ethnically or nationally associated with them. These included English, French, Russian, and Spanish. [...] Arabic counts as a 'world language' to the extent that it is used as a religious/ritual language wherever Islam is practiced; but it does not have that status of lingua franca associated with English and French as languages of business/trade and scholarship which are also used by non-native speakers. Arabic is thus reduced to the same status as Spanish, which outside Spain is spoken mostly in Latin America, as the dominant vernacular.
  22. ^ Fischer Weltalmanach. S. Fischer Verlag. Archived from the original on September 4, 2009.
  23. ^ Ammon, Ulrich (1989). Status and Function of Languages and Language Varieties. W. de Gruyter. ISBN 9780899253565.
  24. ^ Mazrui, Ali AlʼAmin (1976). A World Federation of Cultures: An African Perspective. Free Press.
  25. ^ "Summary by language size". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
  26. ^ English at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  27. ^ French at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  28. ^ Baker, Colin; Jones, Sylvia Prys (1998). Encyclopedia of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education. Multilingual Matters. ISBN 9781853593628​https://books.google.com/books?id=YgtSqB9oqDIC​. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  29. ^ "Summary by language size". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
  30. ^ Spanish at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  31. ^ Arabic at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  32. ^ Russian at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  33. ^ Chinese at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
Last edited on 10 May 2021, at 00:35
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