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Phenomenology 2005

Volume 1, Issue Part 1, 2007

Selected Essays from Asia Part 1

Kwan Tze-wan
Pages 371-407
DOI: 10.7761/9789738863224_13

The Over-dominance of English in Global Education
The Contemporary Relevance of Leibniz’s Notion of “Language Care”

It a commonplace that the English language has over the past century become the dominant lingua franca of our increasingly globalized world. In face of this dominance of English, peoples of the world can hardly aff ord to underestimate the importance of English, in whatever walk of life, if they do not want to be marginalized by the global community. Yet, while the dominance of English today is unavoidable, the world is now facing an additional challenge—the over-dominance of English. By the “over-dominance” of English, I mean the danger of individual languages being self-estranged through an overemphasis on English at the cost of the mother tongue. While dominance is an externally imposed challenge, over-dominance is largely a self-infl icted endangerment of their mother tongue by peoples of various linguistic communities. In addition to widely discussed issues of language policies and language planning, the paper makes a detour via some German experience while introducing the notion of “language care,” which was proposed by Leibniz at a time when the prospect of German as an academic language was heavily overcast by the dominance of French. In the main section, this paper refl ects on the various background factors and consequences of this socio-linguistic phenomenon of the overdominance of English and proposes some “glocal” responses for the consideration of the global educational community.