Why has English become a lingua franca in our globalized world?

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

English has become the lingua franca in our world today because it was the native language many of the countries that were most economically and politically important during the last half of the 20th century.  During that time, globalization was really increasing and it made sense that the dominant countries’ language would become the lingua franca.

After World War II, the most dominant country in the world was the United States.  This was true economically, militarily, and politically.  Other English-speaking countries were also rather wealthy and important to the world economy.  These included such countries as Canada, the UK, and Australia.  Hong Kong, then a British colony, was an important economic power in East Asia.

In addition to this, English was already widely spoken in a number of other countries that were not in the top tier of world economies but had been colonized by English-speaking countries.  These included fairly large economies like South Africa and India as well as smaller ones like Nigeria and the Philippines. 

Since many of the dominant countries of the world spoke English, and since many of the smaller economies around the world had many English speakers due to colonization, English became a lingua franca.

thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

English has become one of the most widely used languages across the globe, and this can be traced back to English imperialism and colonialism. At the height of its dominance, the British Empire was present in most parts of the world spanning from Africa to Asia. In the interactions between the English and the natives, the English always imposed their language on the natives through education. Thus, it became the official language between the English and their hosts from the different countries.

The English managed to maintain their presence in the different regions even after this period, across the globe. The situation served to maintain the status quo with regards to language. This was further bolstered by the rise of the United States as a world power. In order to interact with the United States, most countries have been forced to adopt English as the official language at least for the purpose of correspondence. Thus, a combination of historical and present factors have ensured that English remains a dominant global language.