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One Language to Rule Them All

The English language has become a universal language not because it has the largest number of native speakers (Chinese and Spanish have more), but because it has the highest number of non-native speakers.

China, for example, has the largest population of English-as-second-language speakers in the world. In Korea, parents even have their children undergo a small surgery under the tongue, so they can pronounce phonemes (that are more complicated to articulate for Asian-languages’ speakers) in a more fluent fashion.

The predominance of the English language over others is indisputable. Spanish has assimilated hundreds of words from English. Moreover, many syntactic structures are altered by the presence of English in our language: the famous “en base a” (on the basis of) as an Anglicism, or the incorrect uses of gerunds, such as the anglicized adjective and posterity gerunds.

Obviously, the existence of a lingua franca is not necessarily a negative thing. Some can state that it unites us, since we would all be able to understand each other through a universal language. In addition, English is among the easiest languages to learn: gender variation is marked by a possessive adjective in most cases, fewer verb conjugations (especially when compared to Spanish), and so on.

However, there is much more to say about it. For starters, this fanaticism for English leads to other languages being marginalized and becoming extinct. Think of the number of autochthonous languages that disappear every day. And, with them, their culture also disappears. This idea is precisely what gives rise to the so-called “linguistic imperialism”: languages don’t only represent a way of communicating, they also convey a culture.

For these reasons, we should reflect on having a universal language. We must think about how we speak the way we think (and vice versa) and, that in regards to communicating, we communicate a whole baggage of culture.

From Trusted Translations, we advocate for all languages to be protected. There may be a lingua franca, a universal language, but there must also be a place for all others.