English, information access, and technology transfer: a rationale for English as an international language

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ABSTRACT: The role of English as an international language has engendered considerable debate recently [e.g. Kaplan (1983a) Science, technology, language and information; Kaplan (1983b) Science, 221, 4614; Quirk (1985) in English in the World (edited by R. Quirk and H. Widdowson), pp. 1–6; Bailey (1983) in Literacy for Life (edited by R. W. Bailey and R. Fisheim), pp. 30–44; and Bailey (1987) Resistance to the spread of English]. In this paper it is argued that English is the major international language at least in part because it is the dominant world language of science and technology. In particular, its role in information access and technology transfer is a major explanation for the rise of English world‐wide. Evidence is presented both to support English as the international language of science and technology and to explain its essential role in information access globally. Implications of the analysis are discussed for English language teaching as well as for the role of language in future information access systems. The arguments presented suggest that no country can afford to ignore the important role English plays in information access and technology transfer and still expect to compete professionally and economically.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-72
Number of pages10
JournalWorld Englishes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1988


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language

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