English is today’s Globish. Today, English is the language that eases international trade, cross-border and cross-cultural communication. English is part and parcel of the most recent phase of globalisation and internationalism since c.1945. While there are pragmatic, historical, and linguistic reasons for English as the globally dominant language, such dominance is not without problems as a language – along with its cultural implications – imposes hierarchies. The native speaker will always be in a dominant cultural position vis-à-vis the non-native speaker.
Around 1900 English was not yet the dominant global language. French was in decline to some extent. German made up ground in the sciences and engineering along industrialisation and science in the later nineteenth century, yet it was deemed as too complex to take over. It was the auxiliary, artificial language Esperanto that promised to fill that void around 1900 as a universal second language.
For more information on our new ITSH-based project “Esperanto and Internationalism, c.1880s-1930”, starting in September 2019, see here.