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English in The Digital Age

2 b or nt 2 b . . . Hamlet might today read a little bit different but he still speaks English. As does Siri, from your iPhone. And your carís GPS. So what makes English click in the digital age? Read on to find out.
BY Shirsho Dasgupta |   27-01-2015
Viewed freely, the English language is the accretion and growth of every dialect, race, and range of time, and is both the free and compacted composition of all.
{Walt Whitman}

When the great poet said these words he raised a very important point that inheres in the use of every language. Why do people use language? Simply put, to communicate and convey one's thoughts and desires to others. Sure, there are many ways of expressing one's thought. It can be a poem where the poet’s heart bleeds about his experience, or a speech about social problems, or a theatrical performance. But the motive remains the same.

Today, in the modern age, which is more commonly known as the age of digitalization, where information is at our doorstep, thanks to remarkable inventions such as computers, smartphones, televisions, tablets, and of course, the internet; the world has become a lot smaller than it used to be.

For the purpose of this article, let's put aside the common reasons for their usage. Like in the old days, we still have films, theatre, books, and magazines. But, as has already been mentioned, the world just got a lot smaller in terms of distance. Social networking is now like breakfast in a person's day (the most important meal, of course). Everything is just one click away, and that is the beauty of digital age. But what makes it more interesting is that most of the information is preserved in one particular language, and that is English!

But, why English? Why not any other language? The French has more literary ethnology than any other language in the world. Why not Latin or Sanskrit? They are the mothers of most of the modern languages. Or, why not even Chinese? Everyone who is learning more than two languages has given a thought to, or is presently learning, Mandarin, or Cantonese, just because China is the second largest economy after America.

Dare one say more than what Whitman has already described in his words?

Following the course of history, because of the need for communication, English has become the largest and most commonly used language of all. The purpose does not need to be urgent or important. It can simply be a 'How are you? ' or 'How have you been? ' or, in more common terms 'What’s up? '. These words nowadays are spoken not only by the English or Americans, but throughout the world as part of common urban gestures that transcend the boundary of a specific society.

Sure, the manual of a digital camera is written in five different languages. But, out of five, one will always stay the same when others may change with state, or country, and that one is English. Even the Google Translator first translates the words of a different language into English and then to the desired language. The phenomenon is not a random one.

Today, people mail, chat or use Skype in English, not because they do not have any other options, but because they are used to the language, even if it is not their native tongue. Some say that English is the most borrowed language of all with no originality whatsoever. But because it has borrowed from so many languages and cultures, even the local magazines get translated into English, just so one can learn about the culture of another society.

So in the present age, where people have the world in their pocket, in the form of a cell phone that can access the internet, English, as the most commonly used language in the world, has become the language of information.



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