Danilo Pasi

The present article aims to show the importance and the analysis, of the English language, as the key for international understanding and world regulation, under the phenomena called globalization. This analysis shows that distinct views asses the phenomena mostly to the same conclusion: the English language is the nowadays tool for international organization and communication Major international and transnational organizations do have a policy of having the English language under their competencies, such as INTERPOL and UNITED NATIONS ORGANIZATION, to name only two of the biggest ones, and most known – the competencies of these organizations show that the English language is fundamental, to say the least. Also, in major sport events, such as the ones Brazil will be playing a major role in the next years, English will be the key for making the communication in the events successful or not. To assist an foreigner in Brazilian soil will mostly be done only if the English language is in use.

Key-words: English, globalization, language, communication.



Chapter 1st – The globalization of values.....................................................................7

Chapter 2nd – The importance of an official language – English – in International Organizations and communication...............................................................................9

Chapter 3rd – Contradictions and impasses of the movements anti-globalization and the supposed imperialism of the English language.....................................................................................................................11

Chapter 4th – Globalization and regionalism - international agenda of the 21st Century.......................................................................................................................13

Chapter 5th – Linguistic ideology for hybrid times......................................................15

Final Considerations................................................................................................17

References ...............................................................................................................20

Annex 1......................................................................................................................21


The goal of this article is to conceit that the English language and globalization walk side by side, towards the goal of communication, business and politics, making simpler the ways around the world. Beyond the pragmatical approach about the language and the globalization itself. It is also exposed the practical use of the English language in the everyday of the human being wherever around the world.

The method used for the production of this study was the thorough examination of articles, e-books and websites linked to the issue.

According to David Graddol1, there will be two billion people speaking or learning English within a decade. For The Economist2 English is the language of globalization, among other nouns. Everywhere, anywhere today and most certainly tomorrow, English is to be present in the life of every citizen around the globe. It is the main tool for operating in most fields: INTERNET, banking, travelling.

Globalization is the increasingly of relations of people, culture and economy. It can contribute to economic growth in different countries. The term can also refer to the transnational circulation of ideas, languages, and popular culture.3

Despite the common usage of the term globalization started in 1970s and some scholars claim the real globalization is ancient, the truth is: it is here and it is followed by the English language – like it or not.

English, or better said, the concept of English language known as 'International English' is the global view of the language or the an international standard for the language. It can also be referred as: Global English, World English or even Globish. Despite the arguing if it is a desired standardization or killing of the language, the focus here is to show that it is globally acknowledged to be the most global language of all times.


It is maybe simplistic to say that the last two decades are the decades of globalization. Yes there is even more growing international commerce, financial and technological which copulates to an international economy. But not only those, the flux of innovations, information and people also reaches a higher level everyday. With those, problems that once were local, today are global, to name some: environmental destruction, clandestine immigration, terrorism, drug trafficking – these problems do not any more go steady under a nations rule of justice, and it does not matter how strong the nation is – they have gone global.

The fluctuation of information and people increases in the world nowadays and with it known problems, the distance between the globally included and those excluded. The counterpoint of this problem is the increase of an uncontrollable migration fluctuation with it's hazard: intolerance. Diseases also do not respect borders and the constant migration of people makes it easier for it to spread. Drug Cartels and Organized Crime are increasing and regrouping in the most unimaginable ways decades ago.

This globalization does not come only in the evil way. There has also grown an international conscious that the world is on 'One world or no world'.4 In an each time more interdependent world, transnational problems require an world approach.

The environment most certainly shows that the world is wrapped in itself. If a disaster happens on one side of the Globe, most certainly it will reverberate on another side. Such views today are easier to see when we talk about the El Niño.5 As the slogan says: act locally, think globally, the introduction of the notion of solidarity questions the economic power when discussions come to environmental problems.

The almost synchronized creation of the Green Parties in Europe, and around the world afterwards, shows that the values of humanity tend to be the same. Also other organizations such as International Amnesty show that even in the world of war, be it local, national or world, the values are each time similar.

So many global problems and interdependent needs can only show that we do live in a world with similar, if not equivalent values. Any sensible human being will see that these needs and values do need to be communicable around the Globe. And the way today for that to happen, for good or bad, is by the English language.


Among the six official languages of the United Nations Organization, English is the most relying one, and one of the working ones.

The 1945 constituent Charter of The United Nations Organization did not provide official languages for its offices, it was even enacted in five languages: English, Chinese, Spanish, Russian and French.6

During the first session of the United Nations General Assembly, it was adopted rules of procedure setting out the five languages and two working languages: English and French. In the next year it was adopted permanent rules: Resolution 173 (II). In 1983 the Security Council also recognized English, among others, as the working languages.7

INTERPOL, another world know International Organization uses the English, among other three languages, as it's official language to issue notices.

The phenomena globalization and the need for an efficient way of communication around the world is a fact which does not depend on our wanting or not, believing or not – it is a fact. The domain of English is, today a basic need for any professional in any major area. The internationalization of manpower made nations adopt English as the official language of the world, as said before and the learning of the language opens doors for personal, professional and cultural development.

The Universities around the world today are testing more and more earlier, the knowledge of English language in its exams. Not only the student need the acknowledgement of the language, also the professional, in all areas, private and state, need this knowledge. The reality shows that: or you have the domain of the language or your chances will be fewer.

With the advent of the INTERNET, the knowledge of the English language is fundamental for the one in search of a more efficient research trough the WWW – World Wide Web. INTERNET also tends to be, in the future, one of the most powerful technological instrument, which will send information in a more efficient way, in a faster way.

English, is the most well-known language around the world. Even in China people are talking more and more in English. If you travel, and you use the language, your trip will certainly be much more pleasant.

In all, it can be said there is an 'Universe of the English Language'. This expression reaches the language, culture, teaching, products of all sorts et. This universe covers all ways of life of contemporaneity. The use of English terms in other languages is extremely often. As punctuates Phillipson: 'conclusion is that you are in a very concrete sense, disadvantaged if you do not know English'8.


Despite the fact that it is not easy to debate on terms of anti-globalization, there are no plausible ideas of what to use in it's place. What we can find are rhetorical slogans that are used for calling to different dates and events in which supposedly there would be manifestations in which is the general tone is of indignation, revolt. There are few documents debating on terms of anti-globalization; making it harder on how to debate them.

The Celtic language in the modern world and it's fundamental importance can be explained through the importance of the British Empire during the 19th century, and beginning of the 20th century, the called 'Pax Britannica', followed by the 'Pax Americana' through this century. According to the Spanish scholar Antonio de Lebrija9 'language has always been a companion to the Empire'.

But English 'became' formally global in the end of the 90s with the implementation introduction of the Internet. The recognition of the global position of English came true.

One of the ideas of those who defend the anti-globalization is, for instance: the agriculture protectionism, arguing that there should be given priority to the feeding of one nations population through it's own soil or land, and not through exportations or importation. For those food safety sustainability can only exist when a country is capable of satisfying a significant part of it's own feeding needs. For the exempt observers there is no 'food insecurity' in the world. Since Malthus the agriculture production has grown fast, even faster than the growth of individuals. The same can be said about Language Imperialism with the a comprehensive view that English was, and still is, a global phenomenon.

David Graddol on 'The future of English' 10, exams English and emphasizes the unpredictability in the language. He says ‘the current global wave of English may lose momentum’ and new languages can emerge in the next century. So from different views it can be said that English is here for historical reasons and maybe not here tomorrow for the same reasons. No anti-globalization fundamentalisms can change this fact and the fact that if it was not English, it would be another language.


There is a consensus that the world which emerged during the 1990s is characterized by the globalization and the regionalism in which the known notion of nation-state had it's role changed. The phenomenon globalization had already shown to be irreversible because of a world immersed in a democratic opening in different regions, the crash of political and commercial barriers and the new structure of the transnational financier system. Parallel to the globalization phenomenon there was also a regionalism increase. Countries regrouping in certain regions around commercial cooperation mainly, Europe can be the most explicit example, but also MERCOSUL and ASEAN are other examples.

In a each time more interconnected world, regional events do influence world events. This new century starts in a more complex sphere that the globe has never seen before. That is why there is a need to analyse and connect the system trough it's subsystems: politically, socially, legally, culturally, militarily, and the connect has to be done in a language that all can understand.

Every year hundreds of business men, bankers, state employees, intellectuals and journalists from dozen of countries meet in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. Almost all, as has observed Samuel P. Huntington11, with college degrees in all imaginable areas: social, exact, business, law. They regroup every year to debate and decide on the direction the world must take, they control virtually all international institutions, many of the governments and they mainly use the English Language to advocate, arrogate, derogate and delegate decisions that will influence every human being in the planet.

It is pretty clear that the 21th century started with the English Language in it's centre as the main, if not unique, language of communication in international area. Even when we talk in regionalism the English Language will be used to externalize the conclusions and regulations of those regional countries or parties. The most important, maybe not the most known, international meeting, held in Davos, every year also has it's externalization through the media done mainly done in English Language, not to say the negotiations itself that do happen in the English Language as well.


Due to globalization and a different form of Imperialism held on this 21th century, English can not be seen simply as an international language wrapped in imperialism and the standardization of the world. It is a border language which people appropriates to act in life socially making the language work locally and globally.

People have adopted the English Language to communicate among non-hegemonic groups and it self. It can be understood today that Global English is a decentralized language and it's uses and creations are more global than native country speaking; which makes possible to contemplate other endings, even for the globalization or for another globalization12.

Considering the different natures of the spoken English around the world, the contradictions, conflicts and struggles of this diverse language, it is possible to imagine that the Language has no owner any more. The “owners” of the language are those who make use of it, reinventing it's identity and recreating the world.

The margins of the language exceed the nowadays English, enabling even more profoundly the plague of Caliban13:

You gave me language, and my profit on’t

Is I know how to curse. The red plague rid you

For learning me your language!

(The Tempest, William Shakespeare, I, ii, 363-368)


The power of the English Language surround us. The words we need today, to recreate the future or imagine alternative futures, can be given by this global Language. And it does not prevent us from reflecting about English in a contemporary world, in a theorization between world margins and local story in which nearby happenings reflect on global areas as to regionalism to globalization; and global events affect close events and people as the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland does each year happen and affect us.


The importance of knowing the English language resides on knowing the knowledge and using it. Therefore while using the language it is essential that the user has a theoretical comprehension of what language is from the point of the knowledge needed to use it and from the point of the use that is made from these acknowledgement, to build meanings in the social world.

The use of the language – verbal and visual – is essentially determined by it's social and interactive nature, for who uses it, considers the person to whom is directing to, or who made an announcement by. All meaning is dual, in other words, it is build by it's participants of the speech. Besides that, every interactive meeting is crucially marked by a social world which evolves it, by an institution, by the culture and by history. It means that counteraction events do not occur in vain or in a social vacuum; quite the contrary, when envelops in an written interaction, or oral, people do it to act in the social world, in a determined moment and space, in relation to whom they direct to or by who they where direct to. In this sense the construction of the meaning is social. The marks that define social identity's, such as: rich, poor, men, women, black, white, homosexual, heterosexual, elderly, youth et, are intrinsic in the determination of how people can act in the speech or with others in relation to them, in their various interactions, orally and written, from which they participate. When using the language with another, it is done from a determined social place, and historical one.

The social interactive process of building the linguistic knowledge and learning how to use it has already been done by everyone on our own maternal language. When we start to learn another language, such as English, we are already a competent speaker in our own language for the uses of a narrative.

What the learning of the English language can bring is the increase in the knowledge we have built in our own maternal language through comparisons with the English and making it possible for us to involve in the processes of building a speech in the English language itself, on different levels.

For that the process of construction of meanings is possible, people use three levels of acknowledgement: systemic knowledge, world knowledge and text organization knowledge. These knowledges compose the communicable sphere and prepare to the speech engagement.

The systemic knowledge involves the various levels of linguistic organizations which people have. It makes possible for people to produce, to make choices, grammatically adequate and to comprehend announcements based on a level of acknowledgement of the language.

The world knowledge refers to the conventional knowledge which people have over worldly things. The acknowledgement of the world, is recorded in the memory of people on various things built in ones life.

The third type surrounds the acknowledgement a person has over the use of the language around it's routine. For instance, to give a exposition class it is needed the knowledge on how to organize the information, which is a different nature from organizing the information during a conversation.

In the systemic level a person already knows that the construction of meanings envelops the establishment of cohesive standards, so when finding the pronoun 'he', in Portuguese, it is known he has to search before, in the text, the masculine gender. In the world knowledge, a person knows he has to look in the text for a correct meaning from a coherent understanding. In the organization knowledge, it will be know to the reader that in a certain area of the text, it will be referent to a certain topic, such as signature in a letter, for instance.

The main objective is to show how the learning of an non-maternal language, mainly English, can be done, towards communication in a globalist world.


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ANZALDÚA, Gloria. 1999. Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco Aunt Lute Books.

APPADURAI, Arjun. 1991. Global Ethnoscapes: Notes and Queries for a Transnational Anthropology. In: Richard G. FOX. (Ed.). Recapturing Anthropology. Santa Fe, N.M., School of American Research Press.

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BUTLER, Judith. 1990. GenderTtrouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Nova York: Routledge.

GRADDOL, D. 2000. The future of English? A guide to forecasting the popularity of the English language in the 21st century. United Kingdom: The English Company (UK) Ltd. Disponível em: Acesso em: 05 jan 2009.

LOPES, LUIZ PAULO DA MOITA. 2008. English and globalization through a border epistemology:Linguistic ideology for hybrid times.Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro.

OLIVEIRA, MIGUEL DARCY DE. 1999, 143 p. Cidadania e globalização: a política externa brasileira e as ONGs. Brasília: Instituto Rio Branco; Fundação Alexandre de Gusmão; Centro de Estudos Estratégicos.

PHILLIPSON, R. 1992. Linguistic imperialis/m. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Across cultures, English is the word

SINGAPORE — Riding the crest of globalization and technology, English dominates the world as no language ever has, and some linguists are now saying it may never be dethroned as the king of languages.

Others see pitfalls, but the factors they cite only underscore the grip English has on the world: cataclysms like nuclear war or climate change or the eventual perfection of a translation machine that would make a common language unnecessary.

Some insist that linguistic evolution will continue to take its course over the centuries and that English could eventually die as a common language as Latin did, or Phoenician or Sanskrit or Sogdian before it.

"If you stay in the mind-set of 15th-century Europe, the future of Latin is extremely bright," said Nicholas Ostler, the author of a language history called "Empires of the Word" who is writing a history of Latin. "If you stay in the mind-set of the 20th-century world, the future of English is extremely bright."

That skepticism seems to be a minority view. Experts on the English language like David Crystal, author of "English as a Global Language," say the world has changed so drastically that history is no longer a guide.

"This is the first time we actually have a language spoken genuinely globally by every country in the world," he said. "There are no precedents to help us see what will happen."

John McWhorter, a linguist at the Manhattan Institute, a research group in New York, and the author of a history of language called "The Power of Babel," was more unequivocal.

"English is dominant in a way that no language has ever been before," he said. "It is vastly unclear to me what actual mechanism could uproot English given conditions as they are."

As a new millennium begins, scholars say that about one-fourth of the world's population can communicate to some degree in English.

It is the common language in almost every endeavor, from science to air traffic control to the global jihad, where it is apparently the means of communication between speakers of Arabic and other languages.

It has consolidated its dominance as the language of the Internet, where 80 percent of the world's electronically stored information is in English, according to David Graddol, a linguist and researcher.

There may be more native speakers of Chinese, Spanish or Hindi, but it is English they speak when they talk across cultures, and English they teach their children to help them become citizens of an increasingly intertwined world.

At telephone call centers around the world, the emblem of a globalized workplace, the language spoken is, naturally, English. On the radio, pop music carries the sounds of English to almost every corner of the earth.

"English has become the second language of everybody," said Mark Warschauer, a professor of education and informatics at the University of California, Irvine. "It's gotten to the point where almost in any part of the world to be educated means to know English."

In some places, he said, English has invaded the workplace along with the global economy. Some Swedish companies, for example, use English within the workplace, even though they are in Sweden, because so much of their business is done, through the Internet and other communcations, with the outside world.

As English continues to spread, the linguists say, it is fragmenting, as Latin did, into a family of dialects - and perhaps eventually fully fledged languages - known as Englishes.

New vernaculars have emerged in such places as Singapore, Nigeria and the Caribbean, although widespread literacy and mass communication may be slowing the natural process of diversification.

The pidgin of Papua New Guinea already has its own literature and translations of Shakespeare. One enterprising scholar has translated "Don Quixote" into Spanglish, the hybrid of English and Spanish that is spoken along the borders of Mexico and the United States.

But unlike Latin and other former common languages, most scholars say English seems to be too widespread and too deeply entrenched to die out. Instead, it is likely to survive in some simplified international form - sometimes called Globish or World Standard Spoken English - side by side with its offspring.

"You have too many words in English," said Jean-Paul Nerrière, a retired vice president of IBM USA, who is French. He has proposed his own version of Globish that would have just 15,000 simple words for use by nonnative speakers.

"We are a majority," Nerrière said, "so our way of speaking English should be the official way of speaking English."

As a simplified form of global English emerges, the diverging forms spoken in Britain and America could become no more than local dialects - two more Englishes alongside the Singlish spoken in Singapore or the Taglish spoken in the Philippines. A native speaker of English might need to become bilingual in his own language to converse with other speakers of global English.

"We may well be approaching a critical moment in human linguistic history," Crystal wrote. "It is possible that a global language will emerge only once."

After that, Crystal said, it would be very hard to dislodge. "The last quarter of the 20th century will be seen as a critical time in the emergence of this global language," he said.

English and globalization have spread hand in hand through the world, Warschauer said. "Having a global language has assisted globalization, and globalization has consolidated the global language," he said. That process started with the dominance of two successive English-speaking empires, British and American, and continues today with the new virtual empire of the Internet.

Although Chinese and other languages are rapidly increasing their share of Internet traffic, English is likely to remain the common language, experts say.

"Estonian has an amazing Web presence," McWhorter said. But when Estonians speak on the Internet with people outside their small country, they will continue to use English.

In a phenomenon never seen before, Crystal said, English is spoken in some form by three times as many nonnative speakers as native speakers.

The teaching of English has become a multibillion-dollar industry, and according to Graddol, nearly one-third of the world's population will soon be studying English.

By the most common estimates, 400 million people speak English as a first language, another 300 million to 500 million as a fluent second language, and perhaps 750 million as a foreign language.

The largest English-speaking nation in the world, the United States, has only about 20 percent of the world's English speakers. In Asia alone, an estimated 350 million people speak English, about the same as the combined English-speaking populations of Britain, the United States and Canada.

Thus the English language no longer "belongs" to its native speakers but to the world, just as organized soccer, say, is an international sport that is no longer associated with its origins in Britain.

Two years ago for the first time, a nonnative English speaker, Jun Liu of China, was elected president of the global education association Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, known as Tesol.

Even if English were somehow to collapse as the language of its birthplace, England, Crystal said, it would continue its worldwide dominance unperturbed.

A recent study found that the Queen's English - the language as spoken by the queen of England - has evolved over the past 50 years, becoming slightly less plummy and slightly more proletarian. But the future evolution of the language, scholars say, is more likely to belong to the broken-English speakers of far-off lands.

"The people who were once colonized by the language are now rapidly remaking it, domesticating it, becoming more and more relaxed about the way they use it," wrote the Indian author Salman Rushdie in an essay in 1991.

But in the end, Ostler said, all of this could become moot. The advance of technology that helped push English into its commanding position could pull it down again.

Though it still sounds like science fiction, it seems likely that some time, many decades from now, a machine will be perfected that can produce Urdu when it hears someone speaking German.

"With progress, the problem of machine translation and automatic interpreting is going to be solved," Ostler said, "and the need for a common language is going to be technically replaced."

Tomorrow: The world's top universities are shifting into English, but the move is not without its difficulties, for faculty and students.

Source: Newspaper The New York Times, Published: Monday, April 9, 2007.

1Graddol, David (1997). The future of English? A guide to forecasting the popularity of the English language in the 21st century. London: British Council. Available for free from the website of the British Council.

2 The triumph of English. The Economist (20 December 2001).


4Olof Palme. 26th Prime Minister of Sweden.

5El Niño/La Niña-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO.

  • 6General Assembly Resolution 2 (I) Rules of Procedure Concerning Languages, 1 February 1946.

  • 7Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Security Council Rules 41 to 47.

  • 8PHILLIPSON, R. Linguistic imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

9Antonoi de Lebrija Spanish scholar.

10Graddol, David (1997). The future of English? A guide to forecasting the popularity of the English language in the 21st century. London: British Council. Available for free from the website of the British Council.

11Author of the prominent Clash of Civilizations.

12Milton Santos

13Character of The Tempest, by William Shakespeare.

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