Who is afraid of English? – I

In India, a country of ‘unity in diversity’, time and again more differences have surfaced when it comes to languages.

India now has the status of highest English speaking population in the world. While this is an envious development for other countries, fear that looms over linguistic circles is whether native Indian languages will finally reach minority status.

No wonder, during one of my lectures at Linguistics department of the University, a girl asked me, “What is the importance of translation and native languages when all are neck-deep busy in mastering English?” This question and a few facts compel us to look at some unknown facts.

TEN YEARS ago, the United States was the country with the largest English-speaking population. Today, with a population growth at a rate of three per cent per annum being added with a billion population, India has taken over that status. With roughly a third of its population – or more than 300 million – knowing the English language, India has more English speaking people than the US and United Kingdom combined.
Whether it is on the top of the list or the second there is hardly any scope for a debate on such an issue because for Indians English is not a native language and still they have gained excellence in communicating in a foreign language. Besides, it is not only English that Indians are learning to master, in the age of globalisation, other foreign languages namely French, German, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese etc. are also luring the masses. The main reason is the ability to communicate and understand the people at global level.
Come what may, importance of native language is unmatched and can never be ruled out for any reason whatsoever.

A world wide study by the Internet Coaching Library has also proved that English is the choicest language used in Internet. English is chosen by 30.1 per cent of the world population of the total world population of 2.022,629,545 during net surfing. Other languages follow – like China (14.7 per cent), Spanish (9. 0 per cent), Japanese (6.9 per cent), French (5.17 per cent), German (4.9 per cent), Portuguese 4 per cent), Arabic (3.7 per cent), Korean (2.7 per cent), Italian (2.6 per cent).

Against this statistics, if we look at the multi-lingual blogging, the use of native Indian language is getting the preference over English. Blogs in Tamil language crossed 700 mark just a couple of months back. And blogs in other Indian languages are increasing day and night. An undercurrent is fiercely active, keeping the interests of the people alive in their native languages. Budding writers prefer to write in their native languages, regardless of the medium.

We will look at some more interesting aspects in second part…
Till then, happy introspecting…

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