Standard English is one of the main languages in global communication and is also one of the main British exports in our brave new millennium. The dominance of the English language in international business and politics is worth a projected â‚¤5,455 billion, some 750 million people speak English as a second language for business and computing reasons and around 1 billion people are in the process of learning ‘Standard English.’ Compare this to the fact that there are roughly half a billion native English speakers in the world today and you might get an idea at just how big a business we are talking about.
Standard English is a dialect which can be typically illustrated by James Bond, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Kate Winslet, Simon Cowell and the ever-eloquent Bollywood actress, Shilpa Shetty. Ms Shetty comes from India, a country where English is the co-official language alongside Hindi; no doubt a remnant of its colonial history. This colonial by-product benefits the nation in the sense that some 22 languages are recognised in the constitution. It also seems to reflect an unchanging aspect of human language and its di-glossic nature of academic and common forms, or to put it bluntly, the language of master and servant. Essentially, if you don’t learn English you’re already half-way out of the game.
This increasingly wide spread use of English due to what was once British Imperialism and is now American influence, has made it one of the official world languages in which all nations can communicate. This global necessity to know English as a second language is creating some rather intriguing side-effects to the language, particularly within the U.K.., and this di-glossic interpretation might not cut it anymore.
In today’s world of unrestricted travel, global communications and migration, things have changed. Travel and tourism within Europe alone has increased by 78% since 1995 and people are moving more freely betweeninternational borders. American entertainment, the Internet and international popular culture have also led to great changes in the English language, and can explain why traditional modal verbs such as ‘ought’, ‘shall’ and ‘must’ are disappearing behind ‘gotta’ and ‘gonna.’ In the age of globalisation it is the heaving metropolis, where the metaphorical melting pot of cultures is literally boiling up, hosts the most significant changes.
Cities are the economic and social satellites of Empires, and London, as the business heart, creative hub and migrant capital of Britain , is an emerging ‘world city’ of the Global Village. Here alone, some 350 languages are spoken and though we all use one language to communicate with one another, there are a number of dialects emerging that reflect urban ‘tribes’, or groups of people who are connected through area, origin or style. Jafaican, Tikkany, or the P.C. term, ‘Multicultural London English’ is arguably the fastest growing dialect that threatens to overcome cockney as the characteristic London voice.
Considering that 56.5% of students living in inner London are from ethnic minorities, there is no doubt that this change is being driven by them and should be considered a genuine linguistic trend. Unfortunately, this rising dialect is also connected with the ASBO phenomena gripping Britain’s media and blud iz gettin bare shit for it. Buht Oh meye dayz, da greyem iz so poeht’ik itz dizgustin in a safe sort’ah way. Also, it might reflect a social malaise that is inherent in di-glossic language; the concept of master and servant.
British people seem to forget that immigrants statistically cause the most significant changes within a community. For instance, Scouse was created by immigrants who came to settle in Liverpool in the 18 and 19th centuries from the Isle of Mann, Scotland and Ireland. But Scouse was not even recognised in the ‘The Survey of English Dialects,’ because the researcher insisted that Liverpool was just a mash-up of several accents and dialects, reflecting the establishment bigotry towards new, and unfamiliar changes in language. This reaction against the way young or ‘different’ people speak is caused by the fact that the ‘old guard’ cannot understand them. But the fact is, Immigrants play a major role in imbuing the host language with new vocabulary and phrases through translation. And these changes never stop.
English has always been a bastard language that has incorporated Germanic, Latin and Romantic language influences throughout its history, so why should we deny a historical and evolutionary process? Cities are catalysts to change, and in the modern Dark Ages, London is a quagmire over-boiling with dialects, ideas, philosophies and outlooks. People are moving so quickly that neither the government nor the population can keep up. That fine British English people dream of is disintegrating locally through our collective voices yet is preserved in the international trade markets, where standard English is needed the most. America has picked up where England left off in the Empirical tradition of control though trade and language. And with American movies, TV programmes and music circulating the world in response to popular demand, Standard English is now more American than it is British.
With so many changes taking place around the world today, it not only the English Language is changing. A new culture is being formed, and a global community is becoming more and more connected through the simplicity of the Englsih language. This is by no means a bad thing. But there is a counterbalance. Thousands of different dialects are developing in response, reaction and rebellion, reflecting the aspect of society no empire could ever suppress; human responses, often sown in the murkiest corners of the urban landscape. At the end of the day, in this world community we are all immigrants in one way or another. Perhaps by viewing English as a ‘multi-glossic’ language, we can all become masters and magicians of its evolution. Hu nose weh that kud tayk uhs.