Some years ago I attended the annual convention of an international academic group devoted to promoting intercultural communication. The keynote speaker’s title was, incredibly, “English as the Global Language.” This claim is appallingly wrong, wrongheaded, and offensive. The speaker, a gentleman with a long and distinguished career, was simply oblivious to the ignorance and arrogance of his lecture. As an inner-circle English speaker, appreciative of the advantages conferred by English ability, I was nevertheless dismayed by his theme, and disappointed that the academic group approved it.
Rather than write about the reasons that English(es) is (are) not “the Global Language(s),” I’d rather focus on the idea that English can be a major scaffolding component of a process leading humanity beyond English. In other words, English as a lingua franca (ELF) enables, facilitates, and accelerates the coevolution of a globally shared language (GSL) The GSL is a creole language constructed of as many world languages as are able to contribute themselves. I call this process and the result Creolearth.
Creolearth takes us beyond English and also beyond other major regional linguae fracae. Creolarth also provides a repository for words and phrases from marginal and threatened minor languages, and an outlet for linguistic creativity and innovation.
ELF is indisputably a tremendously influential and useful communicative tool throughout the world. Indeed, my own employment for many years has been to facilitate English competency in those who want and need lingua franca English. That said, long-term residence in a non-English country has made me keenly aware of the frustrations, failings, and weaknesses of my native tongue, as well as the enormous challenges of learning a second language. My experiences long ago convinced me, intellectually and viscerally, that English is by no means the global language. A far more appealing idea is that English can help lead beyond English, toward coevolution of a globally shared language (GSL) used on equal terms by everyone. In my view, only such a coevolved creole GSL would deserve to be called “the Global Language.”
What does Creolearth look like?
I don’t know.
What does it sound like?
I don’t know.
For the time being, no one knows, because Creolearth is not an invented language. It is not a program. It is a process leading toward a language that does not yet exist. It is a language beyond English and beyond any existing language.
Creolearth coevolves from the chaordic contributions of hundreds, then thousands, then millions, and eventually billions of people. Perhaps it will start, as I suggest in an earlier post, with a question expressed in International Sign. I hope to see that soon. It would be exciting to have at least one sentence we could say is a component of Creolearth.
This post concludes with link to a valuable insight from my friend Antony Alexander, who runs the web site LANGX.org. Antony’s insights have been invaluable to me for many years. His article is about a hypothetical process of global creolization, the jargon/pidgin/creole hypothesis. It will be interesting to see whether Creolearth will proceed along those lines, or whether the World Wide Web and powerful new information and communication technologies (ICT) will make the process proceed in a much more rapid manner, in ways none of us can anticipate.