If everyone were able to speak English, what would happen to all the other languages?

By Eshlin Vedan. Eshlin, 17, is an aspiring writer from Durban, South Africa. Please read his article and leave your thoughts and comments below. *Shortlisted for the NUHA Youth Blogging Prize 2012*

The great Nelson Mandela once said, “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Undeniably education has allowed the world to become a better place and it also opens the door for one to overcome the poverty barrier.

I live in Durban South Africa. My ancestors settled here from India in the 1800″s. Today only a mere fraction of my fellow Indian South Africans have a knowledge of their mother tongues or their roots. The majority of them live European influenced lifestyles. It was their education which the early Europeans used to create this situation.The same applies to other places as well, for example the USA, where virtually no African Americans speak their native languages, and many other places where Europeans colonized.

Regardless of whatever anybody may say, this form of globalization has also come with its benefits. Had I along with my Indian South African compatriots been living in India, we probably would have been living in poor living conditions in a nation where poverty and social ills are rife. The same applies to other groups around the world who have experienced similar circumstances.

English is a language which is rapidly expanding and being learned by new people as it has gained “language of the world” status. This is contributing to people losing their sense of cultural identity in some cases.

Variety is one of the most beautiful things in life. If everyone spoke the same language (English), the world would lose its intrigue. The tourism industries of many countries and subsequently jobs may suffer. Many people and experts predict that by the year 2100, half of the languages spoken today will be lost. Subsequently people will become more Westernized and their sense of cultural identity will be lost.

I can visibly see this taking effect upon people in my home country. Amongst the modern generation of youth, many natives are beginning to speak a combination of English and their mother tongue and idolize Western culture and celebrity lifestyles. Moreover they are beginning to lose interest in their cultural teachings. If everyone spoke English, many valuable teachings would become part of a bygone era. For example many traditional African cultures teach that people should never ever show any form of disrespect towards towards elders. Today it is not very rare anymore to see some of these people showing disrespect to elders.

People would all begin to all gain Western values and ideals and those taught by other cultures may begin to cease.

Although I think that everybody in the world would never speak only English, due to the complex and possibly controversial procedures which may be required, I do think that it would bear some positives. For instance, it would decrease conflict between people due to misunderstandings. People would begin to become more unified and feel a sense of togetherness. Countries and people would also save vast amounts of money by avoiding modifications and processing to documents and education would become cheaper and more accessible to all as everyone could use the same material.

In a nutshell the world could be a more peaceful and productive place. However it would be increasingly westernized and much of its splendiferous beauty would be lost. People would begin to slowly stop speaking their mother tongue languages.

In conclusion, I think that every country of the world should introduce English into their school curriculum. It may open the door to new opportunities, help people break the poverty cycle and avoid misunderstandings. However the importance of one’s cultural identity should always be emphasized.

9 comments on “If everyone were able to speak English, what would happen to all the other languages?

  1. Catherine on

    As someone who has not lived in their home country for 10 years now, I can really identify with what you say! Don’t stop writing these thoughts for us to read 🙂


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