Why You Must Write Well In English
Written By Luis Reds
This article is a follow-up from 'Why You Must Learn Your Native Language.'
There is no denying that English will continue to be the de-facto language and the language of business for the foreseeable future.
Being one of the foremost global powers, the British Empire took steps to implant English as the premier language. It transformed English into global norm for various aspects like business, science, and technology.
The British Empire and the United States established the Anglosphere, which encompasses a group of English-speaking nations that has historical and cultural ties with Britain and other Anglo societies. Historians call this Linguistic Imperialism.
This is a term used to describe how the power of English is used to gain economic and political advantage. Essentially, it describes how English, a dominant language, is transferred to other people.
Should people of other cultures outside of the Anglosphere learn how to speak English? Should these group of individuals become fluent in this language so that they can learn how to write well with it?
The argument can be made that they should learn to write well in English. It should be done for the purpose of promoting their ideas and cultural perspective and to push back against Cultural Imperialism.
Cultural Imperialism can be defined as the imposition of a community’s culture on other communities. This occurs when a dominant community imposes its culture on a less dominant (or nondominant) community.
There are several examples of Cultural Imperialism that can be traced back to the British Empire. Let us look at a classic example of Cultural Imperialism that took place in Jamaica. In the early 1500s, Jamaica was under Spanish rule. Their rule ended around the mid-1650s when the English started to make the island one of its colonies.
Among the many things that the English did to Jamaica, was establish English as the dominant language.
While Jamaican Patois is spoken as a native language, English became the country’s official language.
In Pakistan, a country where more than 60 languages are spoken, English is one the official languages of the country. English is used in official business and government.
This has led many to argue that English is an important country. This is the position taken by Sham Haidar who published an article in the academic journal, English Today. Haidar (2018) argues that English should be viewed as a passport to privilege as it is indicator of social class.
Furthermore, Haidar argues that English is needed for survival in Pakistan because it is used as a means of control, specifically in terms of access to higher education and major social positions.
Is what Haidar argues true? Based on this argument, one can make this case that Pakistanis who are not fluent in English are not able to climb the social ladder. Certainly, if this is the case, the limited access to English can contribute to issues. It can create problems for those who seek to improve themselves and their families. This can be an issue for people in other countries that are outside of the Anglosphere, especially in developing countries.
This issue also causes problems for people who seek to promote their ideas and cultural perspective. It is no secret that much of the United States has a strong perspective about the rest of the world.
Most Americans get their views from the media, whether it is from the news or social media. In fact, data provided by the Pew Research Center (2021) shows that 8 out of 10 Americans get news from digital devices; roughly 11% of these people get their news on social media.
These sources include Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Unless you have been living under a large rock for the last decade or so, you know that there has been a lot of controversy regarding content posted on social media, as well as content that is presented in mainstream media.
You cannot always believe what you see, read, and hear about. After all, Donald Trump did popularize the term, “fake news” which gave new meaning to false or misleading information presented as news.
This problem (as some might call it) significantly affects how people of other cultures express their ideas in writing. Those who are not fluent in English are not able to effectively convey their message in writing. They might be able to get it out, but somewhere along the line, it might get manipulated or discredited by others. Being fluent in English can help people effectively promote their ideas and cultural perspective and push back against cultural imperialism.
People who are not part of the Anglosphere should not be discouraged by their position. Instead, these people who seek to learn English as it will enable them to become to express themselves in the written word. Each person should think of themselves as a storyteller. You do not have to be wealthy or be part of a higher socioeconomic class to be a storyteller. All it takes is having command of the English language.
Every person should have the opportunity to express themselves. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done, especially for those who are not fluent in English. It is important for people who are not part of the Anglosphere to learn to write well in English. English does empower people.
In this case, those who can write well in English are empowered to communicate with others. This is an ability that no one should take for granted. It is a gift that few people have, but it is one that more people can get if they are committed to learning the language and want to effectively express themselves in writing.