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Language Migration - one of the many faces of globalisation

Elena Arau | 29th September 2016

The movement of people is a major influencer, generating new slang words, language convergence or local lingos.

The effects of globalisation, increasingly more prominent today, have left their mark on the way we communicate. The movement of people is a major influencer, generating new slang words, language convergence or local lingos. The recent addition of words in the Oxford English Dictionary confirms the trend:

The most common way that languages influence each other is the exchange of words. Many English words were imported from Latin and French during the 16th and 17th centuries. English words are a part of everyday vocabulary in India, as are French words in Lebanon. In Switzerland the local French has Germanic influences and in the Republic of Suriname the official language, Dutch, is heavily influenced by Portuguese and French.

‘Spanglish’, an Urban American contact dialect used by Hispanic-Americans who can speak both Spanish and English, is a result of prolonged linguistic contact, due to the influx of Latin American people into North America, mainly USA. Spanglish does not have one unified dialect—specifically, the varieties of Spanglish spoken in the different parts of the USA differ. Spanglish is so popular in many Spanish-speaking communities, that monolingual speakers of standard Spanish may have difficulty in understanding it. There are plenty of other similar examples, some of the more popular ones, Singish (Singaporean English) and Manglish (Malaysian English).

General trends of migration

According to the Global Migration Data Analysis Centre in 2015, Germany became the second most popular destination for international migrants globally (in absolute numbers), following the United States and preceding the Russian Federation, with an estimated 12 million foreign-born residing in the country in 2015 (against 46.6 million in the U.S. and 11.9 million in the Russian Federation). As a proportion of the host country’s population, however, numbers of international migrants continue to be highest in Gulf Cooperation Council countries: the foreign-born population makes up 88.4% of the total population in the United Arab Emirates, 75.7% in Qatar and 73.6% in Kuwait.

According to multiple studies, migrants generally choose to relocate to a country with widely-spoken native language often taught as a second language in the source country or where the official language is linguistically close to their own mother tongue (e.g. Romance or Slavic languages) – which makes the integration process significantly easier.

The animated map shows how Indo-European languages may have evolved: