Thursday, March 06, 2008

This century Asian century: UK

Addressing about 350 British ambassadors at the 'Foreign and Commonwealth Office Leadership Conference' UK Foreign secretary David Miliband has said

"In economic and military terms, the US will have at least another generation as the global superpower. Nevertheless, this century may come to be known as the Asian century,"

He asked British diplomats to reorient their world-view considering that power is moving from west to east, with the integration of China and India into the world economy.

I am sure UK has reasons to worry

Almost 100 years back,  Jamsetji Tata, founder of the Tata group, was barred entry into Mumbai's swish Watson hotel, then the preserve of the white nabobs. Humiliated, Jamsetji vowed to create a hotel that would rival the Watson. The result was the Taj Mahal hotel at the Gateway, arguably one of India's best-known five-star hotels.

The Tata Group setup by Jamsetji Tata  went on to acquire British Steel(Now Corus)  Europe's second largest steel producer for long a symbol of British industrial nationalism.

Recently, British linguist, David Dalby, has predicted that India will soon become "the center of gravity of the English language," with the largest number of English speakers.

Now what do it mean to have "Largest Number of English Speakers". Professor David Crystal, one of the world's foremost experts and author of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language explains

"In language, numbers count. There are more people speaking English in India than in the rest of the native English-speaking world. Even now, if you ring a call centre, often it's an Indian voice you hear at the end of the phone. As the Indian economy grows, so might the influence of Indian English,"

This will lead to Fragmentation of English Language, forcing speakers routinely to learn two varieties of the language — one spoken in their home country and a new kind of Standard English with pronounced Indian characteristics. The new Standard English's likely Indian characteristics would signify the end of the primacy of American English. Future users of global Standard English might routinely say

"I am thinking it's going to rain" rather than the British "I think it's going to rain"

With all the changes happening with English Speaking crowd, The old TV Sitcom Series "Mind Your Language"  would become redundant. I guess there should be new "Mind Your Language" Series in this Brits should take the seat left vacant by Ranjeet Singh or Jamila Ranjha. 

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