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The Routes of English - BBC Radio 4
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Whose English Is It, Anyway?

Presenter Melvyn Bragg
With English now hailed on all sides as the world's first "global" language, the preferred medium of expression from United Biscuits to the United Nations, Melvyn Bragg meets people - like former Dome supremo P.Y. Gerbeau - for whom talking English is the most natural way to speak, yet who didn't absorb it with their mother's milk. Also taking part, experts from across the world who reveal that the future shape and grammar of spoken English will be determined no longer in the traditional English-speaking countries like Britain and America, but in Europe, Africa and the Far East.

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Globalisation even affects language. The media and the internet has seemingly pushed English as the world global language. A world language is also now essential for diplomacy and the UN. Again English is fulfilling that requirement.
Yet talk of English as a global language first arose at the end of the 19th Century. Its globalisation began with the advent of the telegraph, the system that first wired the world together.
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A world that is embracing English?
It has been suggested a knowledge of English offers a 'window to the world'. For many people around the world it opens up career prospects and opportunities to travel.
It's estimated that 1.3 billion people will use English as a first or second language by 2050 .
The 'Worldspeak' conference this year discussed the world wide spread of English. Other conventions and congresses have also dealt with this trend. It's the hot subject in language study.
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Language goes where the power goes
There has been some suspicion around the world of the English speaking powers and their motives for the globalisation of English.
Language, though, goes where the power goes. The English Empire has been followed by the American Empire, and so English has been linked to world powers over the last two centuries. But in the same period there have also been compelling cultural, technological and economic reasons for the spread of the language.

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PY Gerbeau
PY Gerbeau - former head of the Millennium Dome - believes that English is the universal language of business and commerce. He has found that he sometimes speaks a form of 'Franglais', taking aspects of English and French.

International agencies communicate with each other in English. But a new pattern of usage is developing that doesn't look to native English speakers. New meanings, pronunciation and syntax are evolving.
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Will the 'native' languages survive in Singapore?
Linguistic research at King's College London is investigating 'non-native' English. What has emerged in the research is a new form of the language with changes in grammar, syntax, pronunciation and meanings. More people now speak this form of English than speak 'native' English, and it's evolving and developing all the time. But is it sub-standard English? Professor Jennifer Jenkins(from King's College) doesn't agree ..

Some varieties of English spoken in Africa and Asia are so localised that they can be almost unintelligible to outsiders. these dialects are usually a mixture of English and the local language. While in Singapore English might even supersede the local languages.
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David Graddol of the Open University
Is English a language 'killer'? Will its spread around the world destroy other languages? Languages have their own domains of usage and while English is dominant in international, economic and cultural affairs, it has less influence in domestic environments. English is a language 'dominator' but not a 'terminator'.
In contrast to English, the agencies of globalisation might lead to the demise of 90% of the world's languages within a century.
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English dictionaries
Will these new dialects of English acquire their own novels, idioms, poetry, irony and other complex nuances that make up a real language. Academics are convinced that this will indeed happen, as is already happening in Holland.
This evolution of English world-wide is a natural linguistic process offering up many exciting possibilities.
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