Loosening the Linkages Between Language and the Land
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Like any living thing, languages evolve over time. This chapter examines the connections among sociocultural change, access to the Internet, and the fluctuations of English as a global language. English has begun to transcend geographical borders and sociocultural boundaries as its status as a national language, official language, or unofficial language grows. Connections among various phenomena, such as Internet penetration, language policy, and linguistic diversity, and economic well-being, are analyzed. Countries discussed include South Korea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Tunisia, Japan, and China. The rush of governments worldwide to connect their citizens to the mobile Internet and to adopt English as a language of commerce comes with the expectation that an enhanced quality of life will be an inevitable outcome. However, the proliferation of English as a global language and the widespread adoption of the Internet are transmogrifying the roles of indigenous languages and local customs. The contention of the authors is that these transformative events – the global spread of English and the proliferation of the Internet – are loosening the historically durable ties between the geography of a region and the language and customs of the people who live there.
KeywordsLanguage evolution Language extinction Technology English as a global language
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