English as a Global Language

By David Crystal | Go to book overview

4
Why English? The cultural legacy

The first steps in the political consolidation of English were taken during the decision-making which followed the First World War, in 1919. The mandates system introduced by the League of Nations transferred former German colonies in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific to the supervision of the victors, and English language influence grew immensely in the areas which came to be mediated directly by Britain (such as in Palestine, Cameroon and Tanganyika) or by other English-speaking nations: examples include Australia (in Papua New Guinea), New Zealand (in Samoa) and South Africa (in South-West Africa — present-day Namibia).

But the growth of linguistic influence through political expansion was already on the wane. Far more important for the English language, in the post-war world, was the way in which the cultural legacies of the colonial era and the technological revolution were being felt on an international scale. English was now emerging as a medium of communication in growth areas which would gradually shape the character of twentieth-century domestic and professional life.


International relations

The League of Nations was the first of many modern international alliances to allocate a special place to English in its proceedings:

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English as a Global Language
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • List of Tables vii
  • Preface to the Second Edition ix
  • Preface to the First Edition xii
  • 1 - Why a Global Language? 1
  • 2 - Why English? The Historical Context 29
  • 3 - Why English? The Cultural Foundation 72
  • 4 - Why English? The Cultural Legacy 86
  • 5 - The Future of Global English 123
  • References 192
  • Index 202
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