Globalization has increased the movement of people, goods, and ideas across the world. Moreover, with the advances in technology, the correspondence and collaboration among people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds has grown exponentially. To facilitate the exchange of ideas among people, English has increasingly been chosen as the language of communication (Fishman 1992; Taavitsainen and Pahta 2003). Understanding the implications of the link between globalization and the spread of English is central to my research. The literature I explore investigates whether globalization is causing a dislocation of local cultures. This concern can be extended to the realm of language, examining whether the spread of English as the main language of communication between people of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds is leading to the deterioration of local languages. Therefore, to address these issues, I explore the concept of globalization and its association with cultural imperialism. I look at literature that examines the driving elements of globalization and whether its spread is playing a role in the construction or destruction of identity. I also analyze the relationship between language and culture. Specifically, I investigate how the spread of English in Kuwait as a result of globalization has had an effect on the local people.
John H. Coatsworth defines globalization as “what happens when the movement of people, goods, or ideas among countries and regions accelerates” (Suarez-Orozco and Qin-Hilliard 2004: 38). Taking the basic foundation of this definition, it is clear that the essence of globalization is not a new phenomenon. Travel and trade are centuries old. Perhaps what is new is the mode and speed in which this movement is occurring. Indeed, in today’s world, this movement has truly accelerated. The movement is represented by “an ever-densening network of interconnections and interdependences that characterize modern social life” (Tomlinson 1999: 2). Despite the obvious presence of globalization, the interpretation and evaluation of this development varies among theorists. From linking it to a form of cultural imperialism to viewing it as a movement that enhances cultural identity, the discussions about globalization and its consequences are complex. I investigate five key questions related to this phenomenon:
Fishman, J.A. (1992) ‘Sociology of English as an Additional Language’ in B. Kachru (ed.): The Other Tongue. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.
Suarez-Orozco, M and Qin-Hilliard, B. (2004) Globalization: Culture and Education in the New Millennium. Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Taavitsainen, I. and Pahta, P. (2003) ‘English in Finland: globalisation, language awareness and questions of identity’ English Today 76, Vol. 19, No. 4. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pages 3-15
Tomlinson, J. (1999) Globalization and Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press.