Linguistic Domination Of English By The United States

2282 words - 9 pages

The Tongue of Dominion

It is inherent in the nature of any living organism to procreate, multiply, and expand, thus furthering the species. But what happens when one species inhabits every corner of the earth? Where, now, will they go when that insatiable desire for conquest has left them bereft of any untrodden tract of land around which to urinate?

Imperialism is "the extension or imposition of power, authority, or influence" (Merriam-Webster, 2003) of one social or political body over another. In the history of the world, many empires and cultures have engaged in such a maneuver, often resulting in the oppression or bloodshed of the annexed peoples. In the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, imperialism reached its peak. The United States of America involved themselves is the controversial seizure of the Hawaiian Islands, and the supposedly reluctant annexation of the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico; but they were still disinclined to abandon their long-standing isolationist policy regarding the messy colonial affairs of Europe; that is, until Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese military. The American leaders had joined the ranks of French, German, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian expansionists who were throwing their weight around, trying to knock the earth off it's axis until all the power had shifted into their laps. After World War II turned the U.S. into top dog, the U.S. would find it all but impossible to revert back to isolationism; but their policy regarding imperialism had changed, and Americans no longer wished to impede the sovereignty of independent nations; but there are other, more subtle ways of exerting influence. Some empires have attempted religious imperialism (although in some cases, such as the Spanish Inquisition or the French critical, and self-critical in their use of concepts, and in their scholarly methods when analysing the world's most powerful language." (Phillipson, 1999)

Such an attitude is most likely founded on the Principle of Linguistic Relativity, which is the title that Benjamin Whorf gave to his theory that the languages available to one influence the way in which one thinks; an idea first suggested by his mentor, linguist Edward Sapir. Such a concept naturally leads to the fear that if every culture thought alike, they would lose the qualities that make them unique. Many essays and articles have been written about linguistic imperialism, usually with a tone of either warning or disapproval. Indeed, it seems America has always had an ati-imperialistic ideology. In fact, in 1971 in a letter to William Short, Thomas Jefferson once stated, "If there be one principle more deeply written than any other in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest." Yet, while intellectual society condemns such `cultural coercion', the American laity often cumulatively expresses dogmatist support for linguistic imperialism -- whether it is a family...

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