Watching the English Language Sort Of Taking Over

The spread and infiltration of the English language throughout Europe (and the world) is an interesting phenomenon. Going on the people I’ve met, non-English speakers see it as either a bad thing, or an inevitable thing. Perhaps they like learning and talking the language, perhaps they don’t, but either way, it seems they don’t have much choice about it.

Those who frown upon English intruding tend to be from the older generation, understandably. I’ve seen this poster around St Petersburg, Russia, from an author telling people: “Come on, let’s speak like we’re from St Petersburg” followed by a list of English words in the Russian lexicon and Russian words people should use instead.

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Young people in their 20s have told me I’m so lucky to have English as my mother-tongue. It’s true, for us who are native speakers, life is insanely more convenient, especially travelling. I’m sure mono-lingual English-speakers don’t realise how easy they have it. Personally, I almost feel guilty thinking about it!

However, there is the other side of the coin. All those people who learn English are bi-lingual, which as we all know is really cool, not to mention it keeps your brain active, makes you more employable, etc. Even better, non-native speakers have their own language which, depending on the company, can be an awesome secret language. Where is English a secret language?! Definitely not in western Europe, that’s certain at least.

As the presence of English grows, I would also say the “interesting-ness” value of it goes down. Meanwhile, other languages become more interesting, more alluring. Perhaps that’s just the way I see it, expatriate that I am…

I’d like to finish on the good bit about this happening. It could have been any language “taking over” if the course of history had been different. If we say that the fact it happens to be English is irrelevant, then the fact that it can be used as a common language among foreigners is amazing. After all, communication is totally vital to the wellbeing of our world.

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