3 Ways English Language Shaped The Commonwealth of Nations

Commonwealth of Nations

3 Ways English Language Shaped The Commonwealth Of Nations

With Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee commencing this week, countries all across the world are coming together to celebrate the Her Majesty’s reign. These countries are those within the Commonwealth of Nations, which was established in 1949 as an association of countries that were once colonies of the British Empire. To understand the importance the Queen and the English language has had on these countries, we need to dive into the history and language changes throughout the Commonwealth countries.

While each country has its own individual identity and culture, the English language binds them together as a powerful force. Since the birth of the Commonwealth, the English language has been adopted into many of the Commonwealth countries and has played an important role in how these countries have adapted and grown over time. With both positive and negative attributes from the adoption of English within these countries, it’s interesting to see the full effect the English language had on these nations.

map of the commonwealth nations

The History Of The Commonwealth Of Nations

The Commonwealth of Nations, also known as the Commonwealth, is a political association of sovereign states founded on the idea of common citizenship and formed to promote international cooperation. Though the concept of a commonwealth has a long history, the modern commonwealth dates back to the British Empire, which at its height included almost one-quarter of the world’s population as British colonies. After the Second World War, many of the colonies became independent nations. However, they retained their common citizenship, and in 1949 they formed the Commonwealth of Nations.

Today, the Commonwealth comprises 53 member states, including countries from every continent and even some countries that were not previously colonised by the British Empire. The organisation promotes democracy and economic development, and works to uphold human rights and environmental protections. The Commonwealth also created the Commonwealth Games, which will be held in Birmingham, England this year. The Commonwealth is an important part of the global community, and its history is one of cooperation and progress.

How The English Language United The Nations

English is the official language of more than 50 countries and is spoken by around 1.5 billion people worldwide. It is also the official language of the Commonwealth of Nations. English is the native language of just over half of Commonwealth citizens, and it is also the most widely spoken second language in the organization. As a result, English provides a common platform for communication and understanding between people from different backgrounds and cultures. This has been crucial in promoting cooperation and collaboration within the Commonwealth, as well as in developing closer relationships between member states.

commonwealth of nations benefits unity within the world

Ease Of Doing Business

Thanks to the adoption of the English language, member states are able to overcome linguistic barriers and better understand one another. This common understanding is essential for facilitating trade, investment, and other forms of economic cooperation. In addition, English also helps to foster cultural exchange and mutual understanding between different nations. The use of English has also helped to break down barriers and build bridges between different cultures.

Due to the Commonwealth adopting English as their official language, it has made uniting all the 54 countries easier and made it possible for each country to establish strong and stable trading relationships. The use of English language has created a cultural bond between these countries, giving all nations substantial benefits to trade and investments due to the similarities these businesses share in terms of business, commercial and legislative practices. Because of this, on average these trading relationships are 21% cheaper than trading with those outside of the Commonwealth of Nations.

the commonwealth of nations during a meeting

The Power Of Unity

There is no doubt that the Commonwealth’s use of the English language has helped to unify all participating countries. Due to the bond shared between all the Commonwealth nations, they all share similar traditions, shared institutions and experiences, and similar economic self-interest. The Commonwealth of Nations come together every two years for crucial meetings, that without the English language, would be highly difficult to arrange or take part in for many countries.

For all meetings each country sends an emissary, called a high commissioner, to the capitals of the other members to consult and discuss Commonwealth actions. Some of these actions are crucial to the way that the Commonwealth nations are ran. For example, an important charter was drafted in 2011 by the Commonwealth which enshrined core principles such as human rights, access to healthcare and education, gender equality, and democracy. This Charter was then adopted at the end of 2012 and is one of the many examples of why these meetings need to take place and the vital role the English language plays within them.

adopting english image

The Knock-On Effect Of Adopting English

While the addition of the English language has its benefits, it also has some pitfalls. Although English is the official language of the Commonwealth, many of its member countries also have their own local languages. In recent years, however, the use of English has become increasingly popular in the Commonwealth of Nations, often at the expense of local languages. In many cases, these languages are not spoken outside of the home, and as English becomes more prevalent, they are gradually disappearing and dying out.

This trend has been driven by globalisation and the increasing connectedness of the world. As more and more people learn English as a first or second language, it often displaces the use of local languages. In countries such as Nigeria, where there are over 500 indigenous languages, research has shown that children as old as 11 cannot speak their parents indigenous language. In fact, experts have warned that these indigenous languages will die out within the next 50-75 years time. In turn, this can be quite difficult for families, as it can be seen as a slow divide between the different generations within the family.

This adoption of the English language has added to the disappearance of smaller dialects and languages over time. This is not only due to the increased use of English in education and government, but also to the fact that many young people are choosing to speak English instead of their native tongue. While the spread of English may offer some economic and social benefits, it also seems to come at a cost to the world’s linguistic diversity.

children learning about culture

Lack Of Native Cultural Understanding

While the adoption of the English language can and in some places has changed how locals and natives live, it has also changed the way other countries learn of other countries cultures. As English is commonly used between Commonwealth countries, including ones that don’t use English as their first or native language, it can be hard for these countries to showcase their culture and language to others. While using an official language can be beneficial for ease of communicating, it can be deflating to certain countries that want to use and share their own local languages with the world.

Sometimes certain points or elements to phrases can be lost when translated to another language, which can lead to misunderstandings between countries, too. While there is bound to be translations used due to the mixture or languages within the Commonwealth of Nations, that doesn’t mean that misunderstanding and miscommunication can occur.

Conclusion

Overall, it’s clear that the use of English language has massively impacted the Commonwealth countries and how they do business and communicate with one another. It’s also shed light on the benefits of speaking a common language, no matter what the language is. While English doesn’t have to be the chosen shade language, having one language that all parties can communicate in is the most effective way to communicate.

Unfortunately, not every country has a shared language or the ability to speak a second or third language, and so it’s important to work around this issue using translation devices, like the CLIK S translation earbuds or similar translation apps. Using these devices means there is no need for either party to speak anything other than their native language, which is usually preferred and is more comfortable for the speaker.

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