Languages in a globalizing world
Демидова О. М. Languages in a globalizing world // Молодой ученый. 2010. №10. С. 347-351.
Nowadays, attention of modern researchers and scientists is focused on the phenomenon, called "globalization". Possibility to cross borders has always been a source of innovations in human history. No people, being isolated, would be able to create even a small fraction of its cultural and technical heritage. Despite the variety of studies on globalization, most of researchers including such major theorists of globalization, as I. Wallerstein, L. Sklar, E. G. Kochetov, N. Saveliev consider economic and financial interaction between people to be the driving force of modern transformations [1-2]. However, globalization goes in many directions, and is a versatile process, which cannot be reduced only to one sphere. Globalization, as the expansion, intensification, and deepening of global interdependence and interconnectedness, is manifested in all aspects of modern life and is one of the key transformations of modern society [3, р.8]. The most rapid processes of interaction happened in the 50's of the XX century. They were facilitated by the establishment of the main political forum - the United Nations in 1945, and subsequent emergence of other international organizations: UNESCO and UNICEF (1946), WHO (1948) and IAEA (1957), the emergence of multinational and regional political organizations, such as the Commonwealth (the British) and the European Union, the organization of transnational corporations.
Further, such events as the end of apartheid in South Africa, the reunification of Germany, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the end of the wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, the resurgence of China showed willingness of peoples to interact with each other on the world’s arena. In the present time, there appeared an unprecedented migration of people, their relocation, and resettlement, blending, as a result of social and economic shocks on a global scale. This, undoubtedly, leads to the interaction of different cultures, their peaceful coexistence, but most of all, to a clash – “a clash of civilizations”. Furthermore, intense development of transport and electronic communication means decreased territorial and temporal remoteness almost completely, making people closer to each other and more mobile. Modern means of communication allow interaction between geographically distant individuals in real time. The notion “Global Village”– is used nowadays as the most capacious description of the modern world. Today nations acquire an increasing number of possibilities to communicate with each other. The effectiveness of communication depends on mutual understanding, intercultural dialogue, tolerance and respect for the culture of the partners. All this has led to the emphasis of interaction of cultures in the context of globalization. The desire to achieve a successful economic and political dialogue / polylogue makes it necessary to take into account the peculiarities of national culture of partners.
Thus, we can say that, having economic interests as its origins, globalization is accompanied by ethno-cultural processes, processes of cultural interaction, or processes, which are referred to as “cultural globalization”.
The phenomenon of “cultural globalization” or “globalization of cultures” is studied by such scholars as R. Robertson, D. Tomlinson, A. Giddens, R. Agenur, A. Aharoni, J. Lewandowski, B. Barber, Samuel Huntington, W.Beck, B. Parker and others. [3 - 8]
The concepts of “Westernization”, “Americanization”, “Coca-colonization”, and “Mc Donaldization” of our society are used very often as synonyms of the concept “cultural globalization” or “globalization of cultures”. The reason for this was the undeniable economic superiority of the U.S. and Britain in the world during the XIX - XX centuries, as well as active government policies of these countries, aimed at the global spread of English. Let us quote the words of David Crystal “Together with the U.S. dollar the English language acquired its spread all over the world” [9, р.54]. Much attention is paid to the interaction of cultures or, to be exact, to the globalization of cultures. But no attention has been paid yet to the processes that happen in the languages during the formation of the “Global Village”. Studying globalization of cultures, it is important to pay more attention to the influence of this phenomenon on languages, as any language is the most important part of its culture. The interdependence between a language and a culture is very complex. It is studied in the works of many scientists. For example, David Matsumoto affirms that the verbal descriptions of culture are one of the primary means by which culture can be studied [10, р. 35] Clifford Girts gives a similar understanding of a culture. According to his words, culture is “...a historically transmitted pattern (patterns) of values and meanings embodied in symbols by which people communicate, perpetuate and develop their knowledge about the world and reflect their attitude to life ...” [11, р. 154]. Barbara Parker notes that “...a language transmits cultural information in a verbal and non-verbal form; parents teach children their native culture through their language ..."
The idea that a language is a “mirror of the people’s culture”, “the treasury”, “the storehouse”, “the treasury of culture”, “the transmitter, the carrier of its culture”, “the instrument of culture” is reflected in the works of such authors as: E. Sapir, E.M. Vereshchagin, V.G. Kostomarov, G.A. Antipov, O.A. Donskih, I.J. Morkovina, Y. Sorokin, S.G. Ter-Minasova, E.L. Mosunov, and many others. [11 - 12] Thus, taking into the account the points of views of scientists enlisted above, we adhere to the opinion that a language plays a primary role in the twain “language-culture”, and studying globalization of cultures, it is very important to pay attention to the influence of globalization on ethnic languages. What happens to the languages under the influence of globalization? In this article attention is paid to the processes that appear in the ethnic languages in the course of globalizing of our world. The transformation of a language is considered as one of the most important in a number of ethno-cultural processes, because a language is the first to reflect all social, political, economic and cultural changes in our society. Nowadays, there even appeared the notion of “cultural-linguistic globalization” [13, p.73] this “cultural-linguistic globalization” is based on the dominance of the English language, caused by the development of English-language media network. What processes happen in the languages of the modern globalizing world? Among these processes we differentiate the following trends:
1. the processes of language's integration.
Integration processes influence the linguistic situation all over the world. One of the ways of language’s integration that appears during the process of intercultural interaction is cross-language borrowings. Words, utterances and discourses are borrowed. The researchers recognize the global spread of the English language as well as borrowings from the English language into all spheres of communication in the most ethnic languages. This process requires careful consideration and study as“...a language reflects the world and culture and creates its native speaker, his personality, individual character and national character, as well as ideology” [14, p.16]. Borrowing a word from a foreign, non-native language, is like removing a piece of the mosaic of an unknown pattern, and combining it with the worldview of the native language. The relation between the object of the real world, the concept which reflects this object and the word, which is used to denote them, is very complex. That is why; borrowing units from a foreign language, a person simultaneously perceives, comprehends and adopts a new, strange, unknown cultural worldview. Together with a foreign word a person as if transmits into his / her consciousness a concept from a foreign cultural worldview, a piece of foreign cultural mosaic and he / she is exposed to the influence of the culture encoded in this word. In this case, the superposition of a secondary non-native cultural worldview of a foreign language upon the primary pattern of the native worldview, created by native language and culture takes place. The secondary worldview is not reflected in the language, but it is created by it. The interaction between these two cultural worldviews (native and borrowed) takes place and it demands a certain kind of adaptation to foreign, another’s, perception of the world. Accourding to Ter-Minasova “... under the influence of the secondary worldview the human personality is reorganized and reformed…” [11, p.147] . When the words are borrowed from one language into another they are assimilated in a different way. The word being borrowed from the donor-language into the recipient - language must comply with the rules of the recipient - language. But the assimilation of the borrowed words happens not at once and not in all cases. At first, the borrowed words are exotic, they are symbols of a foreign culture, and they name objects of a foreign way of life. These may include: names of the objects of nature, national traditions, and political structure, cuisine, beverages i.e. all, which in one way or another, reflects the uniqueness of the people’s life and their territory. In the course of time, the exotic word may turn into the word, denoting the object of reality introduced into the life of speakers of the recipient - language For example, such words as “mayor”, “the Parliament”, “municipal”, “speaker”, were in the position of exoticisms till the mid 80's of the XXth century, which characterized the political and state structure of other countries (not of the Soviet Union and Russia), then these phenomena, denoted by these lexical units appeared in Russian political system, and these lexemes seized to be exoticisms for Russian people. Some exoticisms can resist assimilation and conform to the rules of the native language, i.e. they become exononyms, or in the other way, these lexical units are called xenolexemes. For example, O.G. Shitova gives the following definition of the term “xenolexeme” “... words of foreign origin, assimilated or half – assimilated by the recipient – language …” [14, p.17]. She emphasizes that “... the degree of adaptation and assimilation of xenolexemes must be investigated separately for each word ...” [14, p.17] Such words as “izba”, “samovar” in the French language, can serve as the examples of xenolexemes borrowed from Russian. In the Russian language these may be such words as “animation”, “presentation”, “lamination”, and “cider”, “whiskey”, borrowed from English. Integration of languages occurs not only at the lexical level, but also at the grammatical level. For example, at the turn of the XX - XXI centuries, in the Russian language, there appeared and became functionally active the suffix - инг (from the English suffix -ing), in addition to it, the set of words with unique roots was borrowed, for example: менеджер – менеджмент (a manager – management), спонсор – спонсировать (a sponsor – to sponsor), мерчандайзер -- мерчандайзинг (a merchandiser – merchandising). The desire to be modern, up-to-date results in the active use in speech of lexemes created accourding to the rules of the English language. Such lexemes are used in everyday speech, in the language of media, etc.; we can enumerate such compound nouns as, for example: хит-парад (hit parade), топ-менеджер (top manager), топ- модель (top model), секс-шоп (sex shop), ток-шоу (talk shows), etc. If we take into account that Russian is an inflexional language, the construction of lexemes according to the rules of the analytical language, which English appears to be, leads to a gradual loss of suffixes and inflections, as well as, it leads to the loss of their inherited functions and meanings. Many linguists, such as A. Werhzbicka, V.G. Kostomarov [15; 11] attribute the function of emotional and sensual expressiveness to the suffixes and inflections of flexional languages, i.e. the loss of inflections and suffixes leads to the loss of emotional, expressive speech, typical of the flexional languages, such as Russian and others. In the course of time, the acquisition, the process of communication receives features of formal, impersonal, business interaction. Taking into account the fact, that the active penetration of English words takes place in all the languages of the world, one could assume the emergence of similar trends in all the ethnic languages.
Another kind of languages’ integration is intralingual integration. As an example of intralingual integration, we can name the move of the peripheral subsystems of a language to the center, the invasion of them into the literary language. Territorial dialects, slang, argot, vulgarisms are ascribed to the peripheral subsystems of a language. There is a tremendous growth of the influence of youth slang, jargon on the official, business, and even scientific communication. Thus, we can say that the integration of languages is accompanied by the processes of the linguistic shift of the subsystems of a language, as well as the process of borrowings both of lexical items and the grammatical phenomena of the languages, that are considered to be prestigious, for example, English. The integration of the languages affects the content, the form, as well as the “grammatical structure” of languages in the process of interaction.
Excessive borrowings from one language into another, especially when a recipient – language has got units equivalent to the borrowed ones may cause a backlash, because these borrowings mean “the invasion” of a foreign culture into the recipient - language. As a result, there happens, firstly, communicative discomfort, because to understand the information, native speakers must have appropriate level of cultural and linguistic competence, they must know what borrowed words denote in the donor- language; and secondly, there happens a violation of the most important function of a language – it ceases to be the means of clear communication of a certain nation, ceases to be the means of unification of a certain nation. For example, active introduction of English words into the language of contemporary media leads to the fact that information is transmitted in the “bird’s language”- beautiful, but totally incomprehensible.
As a result, senior generations are cut off from the flow of information or they perceive information not correctly, because they seem to be not competent enough in foreign languages. In this case, there emerges a problem of saving the uniqueness of the ethnic languages, preserving of ethno-linguistic “purity” in the context of globalization.
It should be noted that the process of globalization is not single-sided. Any action causes reaction. This also can be said about globalization of cultures and languages (as the main parts of cultures). Talking about ethno-cultural processes, this reaction is expressed in the appearance of processes, opposite to the linguistic integration. We call these processes as differentiation and regionalization.
2. The next process is the regionalization process. Webster's Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language (1966) gives the following definition of “regionalization”: “... 3. A specific habit, custom, or way of speaking of a certain region...” [17; p. 456]. During the last fifty years there appeared a number of international organizations. These organizations need a single international language of communication for their efficient functioning. For a long time, due to economic and political reasons, this role belonged to the English language. Any ethnic group that has integrated and integrates into transnational organizations and communities has to use an internationally accepted language, and, of course, falls under the influence of this language. As it was noted above, first and foremost, the role of the international language belongs to the English language. That is why, integrating people fall under the influence of this language. However, not every ethnic group is ready to abandon its linguistic identity, ethnic identity and cultural traditions for the sake of the idea of integration. Therefore, there appear fears for the fate of native languages of smaller nations – whether the use of their languages will be limited to the sphere of “interpersonal”, “family” communication and the creative possibilities of these ethnic languages will be suppressed, or may be these languages and peoples, using them, will be pushed to the periphery of civilization. These fears are, of course, justified, because more often there appears the idea of creating English bilingualism in countries, where the English language is used as an official language, or as the language of business, politics. But, on the other hand, the English language, in its global spread is undergoing such transformations, that even the British sometimes refuse to recognize the English they hear from the foreigners, as their mother tongue. Even in English-speaking countries there appeared regional variants of English, for example: British English, American English, and Indian English. The borrowed words are assimilated by the recipient – language accourding to its laws and structure. They undergo changes under the influence of the system of the recipient-language. Sometimes, these changes may be unexpected. For example, the English word "barman" corresponds in Russian to the word “бармен” (“he – barmen”) and "барменша" (“she – barman”) in the Russian language. For the English language, which practically has no gender division, the word "барменша", combining the indication of the masculine gender in English (suf. “-men”) and the identification of feminine gender in the Russian language (suf. «-ша» suf. “-sha"), may sound preposterous. Just as the word “чипсы” (“chipsy”) in Russian. This word has already got an indication of the plural in English – “chips” in its structure – the ending “- s”. And in Russian “-ы”, the ending, denoting the plural number of the nouns is added. In this case it seems to be excessive. Some difficulties appear in assimilating spelling rules. The reasons for these are some spelling skills. In German, for example, anglicizes are assimilated in their original form, due to the complete absence of the transcription for them. This causes some difficulties in reading English words, because the number of letters and phonemes in English is different. But in the Albanian language English borrowings are usually transcribed, including personal names, for example: “Shekspir” instead of “Shakespeare”. These examples reveal the regionalization processes in the ethnic languages. Regionalization is perceived as a counterforce to integration of languages under the influence of globalization, and it is especially important in maintaining the identity and purity of ethnic languages. The examples enlisted above prove that the linguistic diversity and linguistic peculiarity is not disappearing, it has acquired a new form of existence. Of course, Business English is gripping the world, but, at the same time, the English language has changed beyond recognition under the influence of recipient - languages.
3. The next globalizational process happening in ethnic languages is the process of differentiation. In contrast to the processes of ethno-linguistic integration, it is aimed at preserving linguistic identity, and purity of the native language. The language policy of France can serve as a striking example of linguistic differentiation. It is aimed at complete expulsion of the borrowings, which came from the English language. In the speech they use only French native lexemes, for example: “la 'ordinateur” instead of “a computer”. The era of globalization is characterized by the compression of space and time. The next ethno-linguistic process, caused by globalization is the reflection of this characteristic feature of globalization; we call it the compression of the language. It happens due to the rapid development of information and communication technologies, such as the Internet, mobile communications.
4. The compression of a language is revealed in the appearance of a new sublanguage of users of information and computer technologies. Striking features of this sublanguage are the reduction of speech, use of abbreviations, ellipses, and the emergence of emoticons that can not only speed up communication, but also cheapen it. Extensive use of abbreviations goes from Internet communication into the texts of emails, SMS, texts of the advertisements, journalistic texts, and from there into daily contacts, into the literary language. Frequent use of abbreviations in texts leads to the appearance of hybrid language freaks, whose meaning may be incomprehensible to people not taking part in these forms of communication. The need to transmit and receive information incredibly quickly, forces the communicants to be incredibly creative and use the most economical form of abbreviations. It leads to the appearance and frequent use of such linguistic forms as the initial reduction, for example: CD, Media, Web-CT, and DJ. It is traditional to use capital letters in the middle of a word, for example: e-Learning. One of the striking changes in all the languages is the emergence of emoticons - combinations of punctuation marks to indicate emotions: J, L, :-@, etc. All these examples indicate the appearance of a hybrid language or a pseudo language, which, accourding to Goffmanova may hinder the natural functionin and development of ethnic literary languages.[18, p.56] Thus, processes taking place in the ethnic languages in the context of globalization, justify that the languages are changing rapidly nowadays. The processes which take place in the ethnic languages fundamentally reflect globalization processes happening in the modern world. Thus, the languages’ integration is a reflection of the homogenization of the modern world. The languages of the modern world are flooded with foreign borrowings, mainly from the English language, which in different ways are assimilated by the recipient ‑languages. Colloquial expressions, slang, vulgarisms penetrate into written, journalistic, special, semiofficial, and official texts. In its turn, languages’ differentiation is the manifestation of the conflict between global and local phenomena, and space-time compression, as a characteristic feature of globalization is manifested in the compression of a language and the appearance of a peculiar pseudo language, which is characterized by reduction of different kinds. We are faced with these manifestations of globalizational processes in languages at every step, and we can either condemn them or perceive them as a means of enriching our native languages. But first and foremost, these processes of language transformations provide a wide field for research to linguists and sociologists. For example, it seems acute to examine the linguistic interaction of different social groups, in order to know, if we have the stratification of a single nation under the influence of globalization; or in order to know, if there appeared the exclusive language of people, accustomed to the use of such information technologies as computers, the Internet technologies, and mobile technologies. In addition to that, it is interesting not only to examine the changes which appear in the languages as a result of the expansion of the leading ideologies, cultures and languages, but is also essential to study how the worldviews, the perceptions of a person and his/her world change in languages in a globalizing world.
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