Globish, the new Esperanto

The idea for a common language has been, throughout the centuries, the dream of many. Some even tried to achieve it. According to Father Joahann Schleyer, after being visited by God, Who assured him it was about time that mankind spoke the same language, he got down to business and created a language that would carry out God’s will. In 1879, he launched the Volapük. It was such a success that ten years later it was spoken by a million people.

In 1897, it was a Polish ophthalmologist’s go at it. L.L. Zamenhof created and presented the Esperanto, which was also a great success.

However, both attempts for the creation of an artificial language, proved not to withstand the passing of time. Still, the technological evolution and commercial globalisation eventually brought together mankind’s old dream. Not through the creation of an artificial language, but by «polishing» a natural language (English), until it could serve the communication between the people of different mother tongues. I am referring to Globish (< Global English), which results from the simplification of English that nowadays has an unprecedented coverage in the world.

Marie Maegaard, a sociolinguistic researcher at Copenhagen University, does not believe that this global trend can be easily reversed:

We need to look very far into the future for English to cease becoming a dominant world language. English has achieved a global status that is so entrenched that it will take some effort to reverse. As a minimum, it would require a massive change of the global power structure.

The back of the coin is that the supremacy of Globish may represent a threat to the linguistic diversity in the world. The languages spoken by the relatively small communities are in danger of disappearing, if the young speakers stop nourishing their own mother tongue. And by nourishing I mean: using it for science, literature and all other cultural manifestations. According to UNESCO, the threat is real: half of the approximately 7,000 languages spoken in the whole world may vanish until 2100…


Source: Scenario, n.º 3, 2016