Guest post by Rosevita Warda
“The status of English as an international language is long established and, for the foreseeable future, unlikely to be greatly challenged. However, I believe that to make it genuinely international, then one step in that direction could be to consider the influence of non-native speakers in a different light.
“Generally, their non-occurrent uses are labeled errors and they are encouraged to change to conform to the standard English model, even though many native speakers don’t. I’ve heard the question ‘what means’ so many times now that I have decided to accept it as correct without question. I also can’t feel too strongly about ‘depends of’ being used by so many European and other speakers.
“Allowing a greater influence from outside will probably annoy the pedants, but it would be much more of an international language if it were able to absorb more such forms and allow them to coexist alongside the forms preferred by native speakers.”
As the creators of the first multimedia learners’ dictionary committed to International English, we’re delighted to hear more and more people vote in favor of acknowledging International English. English has never been a restrictive or exclusive language, which is the very reason why it became the language media of choice for the people of this world.
Today, there are more Indian, Pakistani, Filipino or Nigerian English speakers than those living in the U.K. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_English-speaking_population). Many of them are not native speakers, but contribute to the largest population of English speakers: Those who learn English as a foreign language. People who speak English as their non-native language are by far the largest English-speaking group today (http://www.britishcouncil.org/learning-faq-the-english-language.htm).
Limiting the English language with traditional labels and doctrines and focusing on U.K. vs. U.S. English exclusively creates dissonance with this reality. We live in a world where English is growing into a colorful family of English variants. Since it’s the first time in history that a language spreads across the globe in such a powerful fashion and at such speed, change in our attitudes and how we perceive this language is inevitable.
Rules imposed by local traditions or doctrines broadcast from ivory towers will soon fade, and they already do.
Is International English a sign of a decline of the English language? Only, we believe, if your definition of English is narrow and retrospect.
Being the global language of choice is a compliment to the English language. It has always been a language that embraces new ideas and terminology. Instead of seeing this as a threat, it’s time to cherish International English for its colors, nuances, and flavors, and to acknowledge that language is alive. Language is in its essence shaped and advanced by the people who communicate in it.
About the Author
Rosevita Warda is president of LearnThat Foundation and manages www.LearnThatWord.org, a free online vocabulary and spelling coaching solution. Get 10 percent off premium features by entering “grammarly” into the “How did you hear about us” field.