The Cosmopolitan Tongue : The Universality Of English

1387 WordsNov 5, 20146 Pages
John McWhorter’s “The Cosmopolitan Tongue: The Universality of English” argues against a widespread belief that the death of a language signifies the death of a culture (2009). Recently, many linguists and anthropologists have begun to worry that cultures are quickly disappearing because of the death of languages. In fact, it is estimated that of the 6,000 languages currently in use, only 600 will still be in use by the year 2109 (McWhorter, 2009, p. 247). McWhorter questions whether this is an issue that will negatively impact society. McWhorter makes a somewhat convincing argument that the death of a culture does not follow by the death of a language. While many examples are compelling, he relies heavily on reasoning and personal examples and fails to analyze why English as the world language would pose problems for those who do not speak it. When arguing against the existence of a connection between culture and language, McWhorter uses credible examples. According to McWhorter (2009), there is no existing correlation between a language and a culture, “but to a faceless process that creates new languages as the result of a geographical separation” (p. 248). In other words, the creation of languages can be attributed to geographic changes. In order to support his claim, he utilizes the common pronunciation of the word disgusting. From experience, he knows that although the majority of Americans pronounce it as “ diss-kusting”, there is a great portion of the population
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