Chapter 7: English and the global perspective
For this research essay, I decided that I want to go more in depth with my previous essay topic, language bias. This time, I’d like to look specifically at native English speaker’s bias against speakers of other languages. I want to investigate how English became such a global, dominating language, and what effects this has on other languages. In addition, I plan on studying the effects that non-native speakers of English suffer from the biases against them.
In order to accomplish this, I have accumulated a compilation of academic article, website articles, and book pages to use as evidence in the essay. In the first piece of my argument, English as a gobal language, I posed the questions: How did English become such a domineering language in the first place? And what effect does this have on other languages? Through the article “Behemoth, bully, thief: how the English language is taking over the planet” by Jacob Milanowski, I found that discrimination against speakers of other languages than English is anything but new, in fact “elevating English and denigrating other languages has been a pillar of English and American nationalism for well over a hundred years (para. 2)”. English started out absorbing vocabulary and structure from other languages, but during the 20th century, as the US became a global superpower, that relationship began to shift. One such example that I plan to use of this is in the German languages. With evidence and examples from sections of the book Das Fremdwort im Deutschen (Loan words in German), I intend to elaborate further into the effects that English has had on other languages. This book, entirely in German itself, has a specific chapter dedicated to how the English language has affected German. It discusses ‘loan words’ or words that have been borrowed from other languages and been incorporated into the everyday conversation of another. According to one section of the book, English loan words started appearing in the German language ever since the 17th century (p 47), which makes sense to me, as it was in this century that the British began colonizing and growing their empire, and thus their cultural influence along with it. If need be, I have also read through the article “Johnson: the influence of English”, which details how English has actually affected the grammatical structure of many phrases in different languages .
Thinking about the second piece of my argument, how non-native speakers of English have suffered from bias against them, I posed the question: How have different aspects of a non-native speakers of English been affected by language bias? I find it worth mentioning first, that in one of my previous essays, I researched the academic article Speaking with a Non-Native Accent: Perceptions of Bias, Communication Difficulties, and Belonging in the United States, in which I found that, in general, non-native, accented speakers of English report lower feelings of belonging in the US, more events of discrimination, and more communication obstacles (p 225). This could be a great way to introduce the general idea of the second part of my argument, and then segue into more specified aspects. One such aspect that I plan on discussing is how language bias has affected education. While considering this, I plan on using evidence from the book Why Are So Many Minority Students in Special Education? Understanding Race and Disability in Schools, which delves into the disproportional amount of black and Hispanic students in special education. This book not only discusses the language bias against non-native speakers of English, but also speakers of different dialects of English, such as African American English, or AAE. In addition to language bias in education, I also want to discuss the bias against non-native speakers in professional, and other everyday settings. While doing this, I plan to use the academic article Why don’t we believe non-native speakers? The influence of accents on credibility. This article goes into detail about experiments done to come to the conclusion that non-native, accented individuals’ ideas and opinions are more often deemed incredible because of their accent than native speakers. In addition to this academic article, I also plan on using the article “The Silencing of ESL Speakers”, which talks about many situations in professional settings, and in other settings, in which English as a Second Language speakers’ ideas were dismissed as incorrect or microaggressions were used against them because of their accents. This article also introduced the idea of “linguistic imperialism (para. 16)”, which is essentially the idea that native speaker of a language, in this case English, have feelings of superiority over native speakers of other languages.
Areas of study that would be interested in the first part of my argument would be the linguistic and history fields, as this section of my essay will have much to do with discovering the history behind the English language and what caused it to become so autocratic. Linguists study all the factors that influence language, including the historical factors that historians would also be interested in. I also mentioned loan words, which both aspects of study would take an interest in as well, historians, the history of them, and linguists, that, as well as any social, cultural, or even political factors behind them. In the second part of my argument, I will be investigating how education has been affected by language bias, so an area of study that would be interested in that part would, obviously, be the education studies. Educators would be interested in becoming aware of these biases and learning what they can do to prevent giving certain groups of students an unfair disadvantage because of them.
To review my plan for the final research essay, I plan on first making my introduction to it, then explain a little background information and state my argument. I will then go into detail on the two part of my argument: First, how English became a global language and what effect that has on other languages, and second, how language bias against languages other than English has affected non-native speakers in different aspect of their lives. Evidence from the academic article, books, and website articles that I have read will be used throughout to reinforce my argument. In the conclusion, I plan to ask the questions: How can implicit bias and language bias be prevented? What steps can we take to recognize bias and put an end to it? I want to question the reader themselves about their own possible implicit bias (which would be the attitudes and stereotypes that you form without even knowing it) against non-native speakers and some actions that can be taken to prevent this. After the essay, an annotated bibliography will be typed out, which will be a listing of all of the sources used in the writing of the essay, as well as a short description of the key ideas in them. As for my feelings about this essay, I am very happy about my topic, as it is a topic that has been very interesting to research so far, and I am looking forward to continuing with it in the final research essay. I think that the topic is very relevant and something that everyone needs to be aware of.
Lev-Ari, Shiri, and Boaz Keysar. “Why Don’t We Believe Non-Native Speakers? The Influence of Accent on Credibility.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 46, no. 6, 2010, pp. 1093–1096., doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2010.05.025.
This academic article discusses why non-native, accented speakers of English are often dismissed as incredible because of their accents. In two experiments, researchers Shiri Lev-Ari and Boaz Keysar asked native English speakers to debate the credibility of the statements heard in recording of non-native speakers with various levelness of “thickness” of accent to see how they would respond. They found that participants reported information spoken in heavier accents to be less truthful than information spoken in a more “native sounding” accent.
Gluszek, Agata, and John F. Dovidio. “Speaking With a Nonnative Accent: Perceptions of Bias, Communication Difficulties, and Belonging in the United States.” Journal of Language and Social Psychology, vol. 29, no. 2, 2010, pp. 224–234., doi:10.1177/0261927×09359590.
This academic article studies the relationship between speaking English as a non-native and accented, and feelings of not belonging, communication difficulties, and stigmatization. Through two experiments, they discovered that there was indeed a correlation between speaking English as a second language with an accent and these negative events. It also discussed the idea of “anticipated stigmatization” where non-native, accented individuals of languages expect to be discriminated against even before they are put into a situation.
Harry, and Klinger. “Why Are so Many Minority Students in Special Education?: Understanding Race and Disability in Schools.” Choice Reviews Online, vol. 52, no. 05, 2014, doi:10.5860/choice.185613.
This book investigates the disproportionate amount of black and Hispanic students in special education, and what linguistic bias might have to do with this. It was found that language bias in the school setting can (and has) had a negative effect on children from various culturally and linguistically different backgrounds in the United States. For example, a student speaker of AAE assessed without regard to their dialect of English may be diagnosed with a language disorder that truly did not exist and was only the child speaking in their native dialect.
Eisenberg, Peter. Das Fremdwort Im Deutschen. De Gruyter., 2005.
This source discusses loan words taken from other languages and incorporated into the German language. Starting specifically on page 47, Eisenberg begins to discuss words from the English language that have been adopted into the German language. First starting around the 27th century with British imperialization and going all the way to the most recent loan words, such as googlen (to google), Eisenberg gives the history behind all these loan words in a timeline-like fashion.
Egger, Matthias, et al. “Language Bias in Randomized Controlled Trials Published in English and German.” The Lancet, vol. 350, no. 9074, 1997, pp. 326–329., doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(97)02419-7.
In this article, Egger and Matthias looked at academic articles themselves, to try and investigate if the authors were prompted to publish in a specific language to garner more success or a wider audience. They studied medical researchers’ articles and found that non-native English-speaking researchers were more likely to publish in English anyway. This was because English is the dominating language in the medical field, and so to get any significant recognition for their work, most researchers were forced to publish their articles in English.
Chen, Zheng, and Grant Henning. “Linguistic and Cultural Bias in Language Proficiency Tests.” Language Testing, vol. 2, no. 2, 1985, pp. 155–163., doi:10.1177/026553228500200204.
This study investigated the placement exams at the University of California Los Angeles for Spanish and Chinese speaking students. Their goal was to find out if any of the tests were biased in favor of one language or another. They discovered that the Chinese speaking students preformed above the Spanish speaking students in everything but vocabulary. This was accredited to the fact that Spanish and English both stem from the same ‘mother language’ and thus have many cognates, or words that are a like to each other. The authors determined that this could have given the Spanish speaking students an advantage over the Chinese speaking students since Chinese does not come from the same language as English, and thus has no cognates.
R.L.G. “Deep Impact.” The Economist, The Economist Newspaper, www.economist.com/prospero/2015/07/16/deep-impact.
In this article, the impact of English on their languages – on different phrases, words, and even grammar – is addressed. The article mainly talks about the influence of English on new sentence structures in some phrases in German, which, according to traditional rules of the language, would be considered incorrect, but now is becoming increasingly used by natives. It also discusses loan verbs, such as downloaden(download), which has replaced herunterladen(also download), and disputes on how these “new” verbs should be conjugated.
Stevens, Paul. “Viewpoint: The Silencing of ESL Speakers.” SHRM, SHRM, 28 Feb. 2020, www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/global-and-cultural-effectiveness/pages/viewpoint-the-silencing-of-esl-speakers.aspx.
This article discusses various scenarios in professional settings (as well as in some non-professional settings as well) in which non-native, accented speakers of English have experienced discrimination because of their accent. One of the main points of the article is that native English speakers do not fully understand the challenges that non-native speaker of English must go through in order to learn the language. It seems like when native English speakers know a foreign language it is something impressive and commendable, while with native speakers of other language it is almost expected that they know English.
Carlana, Michela. “Revealing Stereotypes: Evidence from Immigrants in Schools.” AEA Randomized Controlled Trials, 2018, doi:10.1257/rct.3647.
This academic article studied whether teacher was biased against non-native speakers of English when giving their students grades. In their experiment, Carlana and Michela found out that, in general, teachers were more likely to give immigrant students lower grades than native students. When they were made aware of their biases, it was found that they teachers raised the grades of immigrant students, but the researchers also noted that teachers who were not biased in the first place may have been pressured to increase the grades of immigrant students.
Galambos, Sylvia Joseph, and Susan Goldin-Meadow. “The Effects of Learning Two Languages on Levels of Metalinguistic Awareness.” Cognition, vol. 34, no. 1, 1990, pp. 1–56., doi:10.1016/0010-0277(90)90030-n.
This article describes a study done to find out the effects learning languages has on each other in children. It found that some metalinguistic skills were learned faster in the bilingual children participating, although it did not change the course of development. In this study, PhD candidates and clerical workers were both tasked with describing the structure of their language. It was found that PhD candidates tended to focus more on the grammatical side, while clerical workers leaned more towards describing the meaning of individual words. In context of the whole section, this study was given as an example to illustrate how a person’s ability to ‘talk about talk’ is influenced by their environment.
Hartshorne, Joshua K., et al. “A Critical Period for Second Language Acquisition: Evidence from 2/3 Million English Speakers.” Cognition, vol. 177, 2018, pp. 263–277., doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2018.04.007.
This academic journal covers a study done about the relationship between age of a language student and the ability to learn a second language. It found that grammar-related learning ability decreases drastically in late adolescence, and that the best rate of success in native-like language attainment was achieved if the speaker began earlier than 10 to 12 years of age. The academic journal also presented illustrations of several theories of language attainment in conjunction with age.
IUTech. “Does Discrimination Against Non-Native English Speakers at University Really Exist?” IU Education, 13 Jan. 2020, blogs.iu.edu/education/2019/09/12/discrimination-against-non-native-english-speakers-at-university-does-it-really-exist/.
This article discussed the question on whether discrimination against non-native English speakers at university are present. It brings up factors, such as many native-English speakers not knowing a second language, feelings of jealousy and an inability to keep up with change, that might influence people’s tendency to discriminate against non-native English speakers at the university level. They also discussed political factors and many people’s unwillingness to change views that might have an influence in biased feelings against non-native speakers.