What lessons can we draw from history? Precious few, it seems to me. Greek was the language of culture of the ancient world, and towards the end of the classical period had developed a demotic or common form, in a pretty rough variant of which much of The New Testament is written. But it dropped out of general use with the end of the Roman Empire. Latin itself fragmented into the Romance languages; Portuguese is not understood in France, nor Italian in Romania. French flourished in Europe for some two hundred years, but lost ground to nationalism in the nineteenth century, persisting into the twentieth as the language of diplomacy. English, with its wider geographical base, its 300 million native speakers, its utility as a toot of learning and its importance in science technology and commerce, is now incontestably the international language of the world. Whether it will be so a hundred years from now depends on political economic and cultural factors more than on the characteristics of the language itself: but one thing looks certain — English will not fragment as Latin did. The media will see to that.
International English and Language
The English Language, Ideology, and International Communication
When it a local form of English a suitable target for ELT Purposes
Liberalisation of views on non-standard forms of English
English as an International Language
Exploring the Diversity of English
Index to ELT Documents 1971-1976