Language is the most prominent feature that distinguishes human beings from the animals. Indeed, language is a vital tool for human interaction. Without language, there will be no coordination in the society (Pei, 1986, p.3). However, it is a known fact that there are many languages in the world today. Some of these languages are used by a small number of people; some are used by a nation while others have gained an international status like English, French and Spanish.
Many governments, especially those with multilingual communities, have taken pains to introduce official languages in their countries for communication in government, education, commerce and popular culture. When a language is given an official status, it becomes a language of education, public media, courts and government (UNESCO, 2009, p.70). Most countries associate an official language with economic emancipation and modernization. The rest of the languages in those countries tends to be restrained to private use. When this happens, speakers of the local languages tend to be marginalized politically and socially. It is for this that this essay will be investigating reasons why one language, like English, should not be made an official language in the world (UNESCO, 2009, p.70).
The first reason is that if English is made a world official language, it will lead to diminishing and death of other existing official and local languages. This is because the official language will put local languages under pressure. More and more people will be forced to shift into using English. This will lead to diminished intergenerational transmission of the local languages. This scenario is just like a failure of a species to reproduce. It is logical that if species stop to reproduce, it will come to be extinct after some years when the last individual dies. Same scenario will occur to the affected language. This later leads to endangerment, then to death of those local languages (UNESCO, 2009, p.69).
This is too bad for language diversity that we are all supposed to guard. Linguists argue that all languages are equal and valued. Therefore, all languages should be treated equally and preserved by all means. Researchers believe that there is a connection between a language and identity. Different people hold different identities depending on their language. This identifiers mark differences between different language communities. Language reflects many identities, cultures, histories, sources and places. A language associated with a specific culture defines that culture’s environment, ecosystem, value systems and worldviews. From this viewpoint, if a different language is imposed on people who never used it before, a lot is usually lost (UNESCO, 2009, p.73). The affected people will lose their own identity and freedom in a bid to suit into the new language.
We all agree that English is one of the four World languages, but it is very unlikely that it will ever hold the position of Latin, Greek and French (Guerard, 1911, p. 337). A language achieves universality through three means: political domination, natural development and international agreement. Latin spread over the ancient world through political domination (Guerard, 1911, p.338). The same domination helped English to spread upon Philippines, India and Ireland during the colonial times. Now, can England and America conquer the whole world? If they do, then English would become a world language as it is in India, where English became the language of government, commerce and modern culture.
In addition, linguistic domination does not always depend on political domination. This is because there will never be a very big disparity of the forces, either moral or material. Look what happened in Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary. Their attempt to impose language on captives was never successful. We all hope that America and England will be wiser than to repeat the same crime (Guerard, 1911, p.338). It is true that the spread and power of a language come from its natural superiority or the civilization that language represents. According to this, Cornish language became extinct, and Welsh language is diminishing. Natural selection process makes some languages provincial, such as Basque, and some national, like Hungarian, and a few to become international. Some destiny is though so hard to come true for English (Kirkpatrick, 2007, p.168). It will just remain an international language, but it cannot become an official world language.
English is supreme in commerce, but that does not eliminate all other languages. It faces the rivalry of French language in the Mediterranean countries, Spanish especially in South America, and in Eastern Europe it faces German. There was a time in history when England controlled the world economy, yet it faced stiff competition from Germany. However, England did not force all her customers to use English. Therefore, its unique position is being left behind. The days of monopoly are gone. Although England and United States increase their lead in the business, there is no such a time when their language will be universal (Guerard, 1911, p.340).
In science, it is true that English has preserved international recognition in numerous branches of learning, but it does not rank first in any of them. Therefore, there should be no world language because we will be wasting our efforts trying to make one language better than the other. All people in the world will never be convinced of the absolute superiority of a language over others; there is no such absolute superiority. What exists in a real sense is a number of languages where some are used in more places that the other (Pei, 1968, p.250).
From the foregoing discussion, it is evident that English should not be a world official language because it will be a threat to civil rights, educational opportunities and free speech. It will be an abuse to the heritage of cultural minorities. It will indeed justify racist biased (Crawford, 1992, p.3). This bias is not encouraged even by the United Nations, where so many countries in the World are members and signatories. At this point, it is worth to note that all languages are equal just like all human beings are supposed to be. Language identifies culture. When English is made a World official language, it will mean that all other languages are inferior.
It will also mean that the world population should assimilate the American and English culture and identity. As a result, a lot will be lost. Many people will have nothing with which to identify themselves. History, values, ecology and even the environment that was previously outside the English speaking world will be lost. Besides, the implementation process will be too taxing and money consuming. In addition, there are little or no benefits that will come from using English or any other language as a world official language. Every day we witness wars, even among people of the same language community. If same language means peace then there would be no civil wars, and domestic rivals would be inexistent. Language is said to be a unifying factor and many other factors come in to ensure peaceful co-existence. All languages are equal and should be given fertile ground to thrive in equal measure.