English is dominating the world and is causing the extinction of many languages (to be discussed in a later blog post). Although the once powerful, fearsome British Empire rolled up its red carpet, its language is colonizing the world in one way or another. English is the most spoken language in the world.
Too many non-Western countries use English as their official language. As former British colonies, they have inherited the language and still cherish its use and operation. Although they recognize local languages in their constitutions, English is their official language.
What is an official language? IGI Global (formerly Idea Group Inc) defines official language as “The language or one of the languages with special legal status in a country and is used by its government to run its operations and conduct business in courts, parliament, administration, and education.” And, according to Cambridge Dictionary, an official language “is the language or one of the languages that is accepted by a country’s government, is taught in schools, used in the courts of law, etc.”
Here are lists of African and Asian countries whose official language is English. The list is not inclusive but is selective of the most prominent African countries that use English as an official language.
South Africa, Nigeria, Cameroon, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Sudan, Botswana, Ethiopia
India, Pakistan, Singapore, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia
What has propelled English and made it so popular worldwide? Two main factors have contributed to its dominance and prominence: influence and power. Colonizing a quarter of the planet, the British Empire subdued nations, enforced its language and helped it spread like wildfire.
Unlike other European colonialists, the British Empire built educational institutions where English became the language of instruction, affording its recipients prestige and implied power. For example, people educated in English would get immediate employment and steady, higher wages. As a result, parents pulled their children out of schools taught in other languages and enrolled them in English schools. Soon after, those who spoke English became superior to those, say, educated in Arabic and other languages. In other words, the English language became synonymous with power and prestige, which continues up to date.
Powerful countries speak English and they continue to push for its influence and dominance. America is the most powerful country in the world driving the spread of the English language all over the globe. English has also become the language of science and research. It is the first language used in writing research, regardless of the subject matter and scope. “English is undoubtedly the primary language of modern scientific communication of international science, with an estimated 98% of all scientific publications being written in the language.”
English is not slowing down; rather, it is continuing to flourish and influence more people every day. Whole countries are now considering getting rid of their national languages and replacing them with English as an official language. What is the secret? It is the power, stupid. What language will replace English? Who knows?