General Question

mehmetaydin3's avatar

Why can't english be accepted as the universal language of the world by all nations so everyone can speak to each other no matter where they are from?

Asked by mehmetaydin3 (112points) June 7th, 2009

Is it because it is called English and it is associated with England? Or do people not want to globalize anything?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

64 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

no, everyone should learn german!

El_Cadejo's avatar

Lol go ahead, convince everyone they should speak YOUR language and you shouldnt learn theirs instead.

oratio's avatar

Isn’t it more or less already? The UN assembly and EU parliament are multinational forums, and there are political aspects included where english sometimes would be a bit unfortunate to use.

But english is the the closest thing to a global Lingua Franca in many ways as it is used all over the world. I think it’s a matter of education and priorities.

Ivan's avatar

Why English? Why not Mandarin? How about Arabic?

AstroChuck's avatar

I was under the impression that English replaced French as the universal language some time ago.

chelseababyy's avatar

Because that would be boring.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

It was once fairly accepted that English was the language of business, and French the language of diplomacy. Not sure that’s the case any more. That was probably predicated on Americans not requiring languages be taught in our schools.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Are you serious?
If there was a global language it would have to be Spanish.

DeanV's avatar

Because they would have to redo the high school graduation requirements…. I dunno.

Jeez, why do you think? It’s a bad idea.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

If a person who speaks two languages is called bi-lingual, and a person who speak 3 languages is called tri-lingual, do you know what they call a person who only speaks one language?


evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I say everyone should have to learn ASL, that way, the deaf aren’t left out either. And you can sign in a blind person’s hand, so that covers all the bases.

Spoken word language is not the norm for everyone, you know.

DeanV's avatar

Maybe we should just learn binary…

Blondesjon's avatar

esperanto anyone?

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Blondesjon the only people who know esperanto are probably also scientologists, so that puts an end to that debate.

AstroChuck's avatar

@oratio- Sorry. Once again I dove in without reading all the responses first.

oratio's avatar

The language of programming and the internet is English. You can’t be an airline pilot and not speak English. It doesn’t matter what language we use as standard, as long as we have standards.

There is great value in learning other languages. Russian, Arabic, Mandarin, Spanish and Japanese are other very important languages. These will continue to be important. Most languages in the world are not very important though, and those populations need to learn other languages as well. The smaller, the bigger the need is this. My language is of no value outside my country, and everyone that graduates has to speak English and a third language. There is little choice. But it also depends on the needs. International tourism is only benefited if people can speak English.

It doesn’t matter what language is used, be it English, Mandarin or Arabic. But it would be beneficial for everyone to learn English. That shouldn’t prevent people from learning other important languages as well though. I can’t expect people to learn Swedish just because they visit my country.

laureth's avatar

English does some things quite beautifully. English is tops, for instance, at being able to adopt, conglomerate, and invent new words. It’s very versatile, for what it lacks in beauty.

There are some things English is very bad at, too. It’s hard to learn English, for instance, if you haven’t always spoken it – and even if you have, not everybody speaks it well. That inventiveness and changeability is one reason. There are also many words that are confusing, such as the different meanings of pare, pair, and pear, not to mention well and well and well.

The thing is, not everyone thinks in English. I don’t mean “thinks in English or American words,” I mean that not everyone thinks in a way that mirrors the structure and thoughtstream of English. Languages are chiefly a way to communicate, to think. And not everyone thinks the same way!

Even if English did become the Accepted Universal Language, it wouldn’t stay for too long, historically speaking. Eventually it would break up into regional dialects and then daughter languages – just like Latin did, and Indo-European before it.

kheredia's avatar

I heard in Europe most people are multilingual. If we were to have just one universal language, people would have an excuse to become lazy and learn only one language. How boring would that be?! The beauty of the world is centered in the differences we have. Our food, our language, our traditions. Why would you want to narrow it down to something so simple and boring. My suggestion to you is to learn another language and experience the wonders of knowing something thats different from everything you’ve learned so far.

gailcalled's avatar

@oratio: Another Scandivanian who speaks perfect English as a second language and knows a third one? How depressing. How impressive. What’s your third language?

oratio's avatar

@gailcalled I studied French in school, but I speak Russian better, since I lived there for a year. But isn’t it quite common to also speak Spanish in the US?

gailcalled's avatar

Most people I know have no real command of a second language. My French is pretty good and my Spanish is fair, but I studied both languages a long time ago at college (and Latin in High School).

Blondesjon's avatar

Ovatko et unohtaa yhden?

oratio's avatar

@Blondesjon Aha, we seem to have some un-Finnished business. I don’t really speak Finnish. Just to survive in Helsinki if stranded. My ex-ex did though. A lot. I like it though. Quite complex language.

Blondesjon's avatar

@oratio . . .I’ve heard that it’s the hardest language to learn.

oratio's avatar

@Blondesjon I won’t argue with that. The construction and grammar is somewhat alien to Scandinavian, as they don’t belong to the Germanic language family tree. I think they have fifteen cases for nouns.

Blondesjon's avatar

@oratio . . .I am spoiled as an American but I’ve heard that English is no walk in the park.

gailcalled's avatar

@Blondesjon: Oratio has finally called our bluff. He can survive in Helsinki without iGoogle. (And annoyingly, he can make good puns in English.)


Meidän huijata
Vi fuskar

And I have been told that Hungarian is really difficult.

From Wikipedia

“Nouns have as many as eighteen cases.”

“Verbs developed a complex conjugation system during the centuries. Every Hungarian verb has two conjugations (definite and indefinite), two tenses (past and present-future), and three moods (indicative, conditional and imperative), two numbers (singular or plural), and three persons (first, second and third).”

oratio's avatar

@gailcalled Lol, cheaters.

@Blondesjon Well, I have had the advantage of growing up surrounded by a flood of English. We start with English in School by the age of eight/nine, and all movies here are shown in their native language. Also there is, that the majority of music played is in English, even by Swedish artists, and kids pick that up. But we all have that Swedish accent.

Blondesjon's avatar

@oratio . . .What language do you think in? Dream in?

oratio's avatar

@Blondesjon Oh, that would be Swedish normally, but when I lived in London I noticed that I was sometimes thinking in English. That never happened to me when I lived in Russia. That is a language I have to translate actively, from and into Swedish quite often, as I think and speak.

Blondesjon's avatar

@oratio . . .Very cool. I’ve always been fascinated by that aspect of being multilingual.

gailcalled's avatar

@Blondesjon @oratio:All my sentient life I have had dreams in which I seem to be speaking languages that I do not know fluently, like Polish or Portuguese.

oratio's avatar

@gailcalled Interesting. That must feel strange; to be speaking a language in a dream, that you have no knowledge of when you wake up.

Blondesjon's avatar

@gailcalled . . .Many times in my adult life I have gotten inebriated enough that it sounded like I was speaking Polish.

gailcalled's avatar

Mam zauważyłem.

Blondesjon's avatar

@gailcalled . . .È il mio cuore salire Gail. Scappare con me e si sollevano lama in Perù.

gailcalled's avatar


L’autobus parte alle undici PM.
Sarò quello con una rosa tra i denti.

Blondesjon's avatar

@gailcalled . . .Fino ad allora mi sono presi in considerazione i momenti come se fossero eternities. (Pensate che mi permetta di portare spot?)

ragingloli's avatar


gailcalled's avatar

@Blondesjon: I do remember that odd-looking llama you are so tender towards.Unfaithful already, and you haven’t even packed.

@ragingdoll; This is why English will never be the only language used world-wide.

in any language of your choice, I am going to bed.

casheroo's avatar

@oratio No, not all Americans speak spanish. If they did, I doubt we’d be trying to build a fence between a Spanish speaking country. Just my own personal theory. I don’t speak Spanish, I took French and Russian. And I will have my son taught French and Italian before Spanish, but I suspect once he picks up those two, it’ll be easy for him to pick up Spanish.

alive's avatar

I don’t think anyone mentioned this (unless i missed it along the way)

@mehmetaydin3 that would put a lot of translators out of work (they go through a lot of schooling and training to learn another language fluently).

like other said it could be any language why english?

and lastly, language is not “just” language, it is part of an identity. to ask people to speak your language assumes that their language (and therefore their identity) is not as good as yours.

tb1570's avatar

Because the universal language has already been established—and it’s math—with music maybe a close second.

ckinyc's avatar


tb1570's avatar

@ckinyc 我同意啊!我跟你一样,多觉得中文是最好的!

pikipupiba's avatar

Regardless of whether or not we adopt an ACL, a person should be required to learn english to be an american citizen. If you live somewhere, you learn their language. We shouldn’t have to make adjustments for everyone else.

gailcalled's avatar

@ckinyc @tb1570 余弓,然后两个。

@Blondesjon; We have been hoist by our own petard.

mattbrowne's avatar

English is already accepted as the common second language by most countries and people. Did you mean it should become the first language for everyone? One native language for everyone?

Blondesjon's avatar

@gailcalled . . .Which, of course, is infinitely more painful for me.

I will admit it is a wonderful view.

pikipupiba's avatar

@mattbrowne No, but (fluent) English should be required for American citizenship.

gailcalled's avatar

@pikipupiba: Who defines what “fluent” means?

@Blondesjon: We’d be in little pieces.

Blondesjon's avatar

@gailcalled . . .AHEM. Pretty much average, some have called them big, pieces.

alive's avatar

@pikipupiba there are many non-english speaking communities in the US. They are getting by just fine. Just because we only have one national language doesn’t mean people have to speak it.

Yes, it probably would be helpful to themselves if they speak it or or learn to speak it, but why is it pertinent?

south africa is a country that officially recognizes a number of its minority speakers, there are 11 official languages there.

AstroChuck's avatar

There has never been an “official language” in the US and we’ve gotten by just fine that way. Frankly, I think it’s one of our strengths.

susanc's avatar

Wholehearted agreement with whole-hearted AstroChuck. Official language seems
fascistish to me.

julia999's avatar

I won’t repeat what the above answers have already covered, but I’d like to mention that science fiction writers have addressed this viewpoint before. For example, in Orson Scott Card’s “Ender” saga, the people of Earth all speak the common language English (alien invasion causing all countries to unite), but also speak their own language (mainting historical and cultural ties).

mattbrowne's avatar

@pikipupiba – I agree. In Germany language skills and general knowledge are now required when applying for citizenship. Here’s some information and a sample test (in English!)

Do You Have What It Takes to Become German?

Do you know how many federal states Germany has? What is the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia? And why did Willy Brandt sink to his knees in Warsaw in 1970? Try the sample questions from Germany’s new citizenship test and see if you have what it takes to become a Kraut.

To pass the citizenship test, people applying to become a German national will have to answer at least 17 out of 33 questions correct. To pass the sample test, you will need to get at least four out of the seven questions right.

Question 1 of 7

How many federal states does Germany have?

* 14
* 15
* 16
* 17

Question 2 of 7

The opposition in Germany’s national parliament, the Bundestag, ...

* ... keeps a check on the government.
* ... decides who becomes a federal minister.
* ... decides who sits in the upper house of the German parliament, the Bundesrat.
* ... proposes the governors of the federal states.

What message did former Chancellor Willy Brandt want to send when he knelt down in the former Jewish ghetto in Warsaw in 1970?

* He was showing his submission to the former Allied forces.
* He was asking Poland’s Jews and Poles for forgiveness.
* He was demonstrating his respect for the Warsaw Pact.
* He was saying a prayer at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

and so forth.

Can you answer any of them?

oratio's avatar

@mattbrowne Is that test is given to Union citizens as well?

mattbrowne's avatar

@oratio – As far as I know yes, but most EU citizens don’t apply for German citizenship. Most applicants have Turkish or African roots.

pikipupiba's avatar

@gailcalled Fluent is when a person can function in a society without dual-language signs, can carry out every order of business, and not have a debilitating accent. (meaning that they are understandable)

gailcalled's avatar

Well, that excludes all the people I talk to at the various Help 1–800 numbers. I just had a go-around (several, in fact) with Sears’ Appliance Repair. Not only could I not understand the Help tech, but he had no idea of what I was talking about. His script, which he read to me twice, was a promotion of a Sears Service Contract.

julia999's avatar

@gailcalled I know Hungarian, but damn it seems a bit scary when you put it like that! It’s easier if you’ve grown up knowing it – I imagine it would be quite hard to learn from scratch.

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