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English Thrives on Adaptation

Rami Ibrahim

5th November 2022

Language is dynamic and constantly changing, and all attempts to hinder that change were useless and in vain. I chose my subject because I wanted to show that dynamicity and willingness to adapt with changes and circumstances help people promote the status of their languages if not making it global.

In my attempt to convince my reader that English maintains its status in the world through a process of adaptation, I drew evidence from different spheres: linguistic theory, history, literature and digital technology to encompass all the connotations of the term "global language."

This essay shows that English has become the most prestigious language in the world through a process of modification, giving way to change, acknowledging other dialects, and assimilating other cultures.

Scholars have been tracing the factors that helped English become a universal language. Some of them stress the role of migration in the first and second diasporas as the most vital factor, others ascribe that status of English to imperialism. However, historical and economical reasons are really considerable, but English also retains its position in the world through a process of adaptation.

One of the examples of adaptation with constant changes in the language is clearly viewed in the emergence of descriptive grammar and the deterioration of prescriptive grammar. The new role of a grammarian today is to describe the grammar that exists in the minds of English speakers (Riad Taifur.2004). "purists" nowadays are fewer than they were in the eighteenth and nineteenth century and they feel unable to continue their dispute against language change saying it is corruption . Clearly, the majority of linguists now admit the fact that English ( like any other language) is dynamic and constantly changing and they give way to new usages of English.

Discussing linguistic change leads to talk about the varieties of English which are receiving wider acknowledgement in the course of time. There is little controversy today over considering English spoken and written in Britain, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand as one thing (Kachru & Nelson 11). Of course, nobody denies the fact that differences do exist, but these differences do not blur the message or make it impossible to understand. The same idea can be applied to Englishes in other parts of the world like India or Singapore etc…" If you glance at the front pages of, say, the New York Times, the London Times, the Times of India, and Singapore's the Straits Times, you will probably notice more similarities than differences; that is you will have little trouble reading and understanding the headlines and new stories before you" (Kachru & Nelson 12). So, as far as change is adaptable, these varieties of English will be accepted and viewed as one monolithic language.
Nobody would also undervalue the role of colonialism in the spread of English, but when countries in Asia and Africa achieved their independence, English was no longer the colonizer's language. However, English could survive as an official language in theses countries because of being neutral (Pennycook 80-81) . For instance, a country like India, where hundreds of languages co-exist, no local language could usurp the position of English. And if any local language could do, it would have been associated with superiority and might have given way to deep animosity and stigma among social groups. However, new methods and strategies in ELT ( English Language Teaching ) had to be adopted to suit the new role of English as a neutral language. So, courses became more focused on International peace and universal issues; and teachers of English allowed and encouraged comparing cultures rather than intensifying the English culture only. So, neutrality helped English retain its status in most neocolonial Asian and African countries.

Assimilation of other cultures into English is another example of the efforts put to keep English as a global language. Policy makers have been always keen on having all outstanding books translated into English. Accumulation of the world heritage into English will definitely reinforce and promote the status of English in the whole world. Given the citation in David Crystal's book English as a Global Language, one can deduce that this process have been launched since the eighteenth century. Crystal cited what an English Writer, John wallis, wrote in 1765: 'It can be said that there is scarcely any worthwhile body of knowledge which has not been recorded today, adequately at least, in the English language'( Crystal 64). It is no wonder English has its appeal since it makes every worth-reading book accessible.

In addition to what have been stated above, there is also a tendency to make English easier and more comprehensible world wide. This is especially true in software and related technological spheres, where some companies try to simplify English used in their products, and avoid any kind of ambiguity, to come up with " International English" which is accessible to everyone (Rita Raley ). An easy dialect which never mystifies would probably give life to a dead language and it would certainly safeguard a widespread language like English.

In conclusion, the fact that English maintains its position as the most prestigious language in the world comes through a process of modifying it, giving way to changes, acknowledging other dialects and assimilating other cultures.



Taifur, Riad. Descriptive and Prescriptive Grammar. Albaath University. 2004.
Kachru. Braj B. & Cecil L. Nelson ‘World Englishes’ Analysing English in a Global Context Anne Burns & Caroline Coffin (eds.) London: Routledge, 2001.


Pennycook, Alastair ‘English in the World/The World in English’ Analysing English in a Global Context Anne Burns & Caroline Coffin (eds.) London: Routledge, 2001.


Crystal, David English as a Global Language Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.


Raley, Rita What is Global English? University of California 28.8.2000 7.11.2010.

Rami Ibrahim

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