It starts with a smile.
A simple "hi." "Hello." A word here. A phrase there. Then, a full-blown sentence. It is as simple as that. It is that complex. And we all thrive on it.
The English language is far from being the most spoken language in the world. In fact, there are more Chinese speakers out there than there are people who understand English. And yet, how then that we are able to trek the world with nothing but a map and some rudimentary English? How then that the infinitely diverse world of the Internet appears to be dominated by the English language despite a generous number of websites that favor other languages? And how then that people consider it as THE global language, not just one of many global languages out there?
Is it because of its inherent simplicity that people take to it as easily as they do their mother tongue? Is it even simple? It appears to be so. But like everything else in this transient world of ours, it hides an intricate web of infinitessimal details.
No, the English language is far from simple. I remember reading one Richard Lederer who made some humorous yet insightful observations of the crazy language we often call "English." He said, and may I quote, "Let's face it -- English is a crazy language.... We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig...." And he is right in saying so. The language itself is infused with a great many contradictions, it is enough to confuse a genius.
I acknowledge the need for a common language. If our world today has been reduced to nothing but an oversized global village, then I acknowledge the fact that we need some mode of communication that can be understood by all. How? Why? Most importantly, what? Which among the languages of the world should we bestow the great honor that comes with the title, the "Global Language?"
Many consider French as the most romantic of languages. Spanish is not far behind. And we use far too many Italian and Greek words in our everyday language to simply ignore the two. All these and more can be considered the Global Language. IN fact, there are more than two hundred major languages spoken and taught worldwide. Why then do we settle for the language of the crazed - English?
Perhaps, the reason lies in its diversity. While other languages appear to stagnate, English is constantly growing with amazing speed. There are English words today that did not even exist before. Words such as "technorati," "cybrarian," and "amuse-bouche." And this diversity that seems to go hand-in-hand in the English language is what gives it universal appeal.
We live in a diverse world. We need a language that is equally diverse.
The English language opens a multitude of doors for us in countless fields - travel, sports, literature, arts, economics, information technology - you name it.
The practical in us will not hesitate to recognize the commercial benefits of English. Knowing a second language is a great help when applying for a job almost anywhere in the world. English is an asset, that much is true, and many business people with worldwide companies and exports will certainly agree to that.
The English language is a gateway to many cultures this world of ours offer. As one learns this language, we gain insights to a people whom perceive as different from us, but actually not THAT different.
The English language fosters understanding. And isn't that what language and communication is all about?
NOTE: This is an essay written for my grade school cousin on the theme "English as a Global Language."