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The world has certainly shrunk. What is popularly called the information revolution is in. Everywhere we see more and more effective means of communication being developed. Telephones link continents, television stations using satellite transmissions send out programs to the whole world, computers and modems bring documents around the world in seconds and video conferences bring together men and women from all over the globe to discuss matters as if they are in the same room. Only one thing seems to be lacking: a single language for all.

At first thought this does not seem to be a problem at all. Since English seems to be the simplest language and since it is apparent that more people speak English than any other language, the natural choice must be English. Now since that is agreed let us get on with it. The first thing to do is to churn out a program where everyone in the world will agree to learn English as a second language. Flood the world with English books and start to teach them immediately. Prepare video programs, radio programs and computer based lessons. Within a few years everyone will be speaking English and the world will be one big happy family. Right?

Wrong! Our above argument does sound extremely reasonable because we are arguing for our favorite language. Having immersed ourselves in it for ten years or more, we are all liable to be convinced that it is easy and that everyone should see it our way. To use a comparison, have you tried telling people how to get to your house and then have them lose their way? If you have then you will understand the argument. The way to your house will seem very easy to you, but not at all to the person you are trying to direct. It does not make sense if later you say that the directions were easy. They were - for you. The perception that English is a difficult language will not be shared by people who speak the language. Indeed to people who are proficient in other languages, English has been found to be a difficult language.

Another thing that will stand in the way of any language, not only English, becoming an international language is pride. Most people are proud of their own language and would like to convince the rest of the world that their language should be chosen as the world language. Naturally they will all have the same or similar arguments. For example the French will never accept that English is more suitable as an international language than French. Their arguments would be that French is an older language, that it is easier, more refined and so on. In fact the French are known to be very proud of their tongue. Visitors to France say that though almost every Frenchman speaks English, he will feign ignorance if asked directions in English. Frenchmen expect the whole world to speak their language.

It is this type of pride that prevents the Indians from having a national language. In India there are more than 400 languages, not to mention more than a thousand dialects. None of the language speakers will agree that any language but his own should be the national language, and they are prepared to shed blood over it. In order to keep the peace and to be able to communicate with each other, they have adopted English as the official language. So what stands most in the way of an international language is human pride. This only shows that no matter how much we have progressed in communication, we are very much at the start point as far as an international language is concerned.

   
  Questions
   
  1. (a) Why, according tot he writer, has the world shrunk ?
    (b) Why do we tend to think that English is the ideal international language ?
    (c) Is this a reasonable assumption ? Why or why not ?
    (d) Explain the comparison that the writer uses to clarify that our reasoning is flawed.
       
  2. (a) Why would the French object to English being the international language ?
    (b) What arguments will they offer to say that French is more suitable ?
    (c) How do Frenchmen show that they are proud of their language ?
       
  3.   Explain briefly the example that the writer draws from India.
       
  4.   For each of the following words give one word or short phrase ( not more than seven words ) which has the same meaning as it has in the passage.
      i.   churn out   v.   proficient
      ii.   extremely   vi.   refined
      iii.   immersed   vii.   feign
      iv.   comparison   viii.   progressed
       
  5. In 160 words and using your own words as much as possible, explain what objections will be raised to any one language being declared the international language.
       
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  Answers
       
  1. (a) Since information moves so fast from point to point, it seems that the world has grown smaller.
    (b) We probably think that since we are good at it, everyone else should be too.
    (c) It is not a reasonable conclusion, because everyone thinks the same with the languages they are proficient in.
    (d) We have no difficulty finding our ways home so we assume that if we tell people how to get there they should be able to do so. But this does not always happen. if it is easy for us, it does not mean it is easy for others.
       
  2. (a) The French are proud of their language and think that it is more suitable for the world
    (b) They will say that their language is older, easier and more refined.
    (c) Frenchmen can usually speak and understand English but will speak only in their own language and insist that others do too.
       
  3.   The writer points out that in India there are more than 400 languages but their common language is English. This is because no one wants to allow another Indian language to become the national language.
       
  4. i produce at a fast rate
    ii very
    iii sunk
    iv example
    v good
    vi classy
    vii pretend
    viii moved forward
       
  5. When we look at our favorite language and in the language we are most proficient in -- like the English language -- it seems so logical that it should naturally become the international language. this is a fallacy because, just like we feel that it is easy to find our ways to our homes, we are confident that the language we speak is the easiest It has been found that to people whoa re good in other languages, English is a difficult language. This may come as something of a surprise to us.

Another reason people will object to any language becoming the international language is that most people are proud of their own language and cannot accept any language, other than their own becoming the international language. The writer points out the French as an example. They are proud of their language and feel that it is older, easier and more refined and therefore most appropriate as an international language. ( 160 words )

           
 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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