Longevity of the Anglosphere

The concept of globalization  has shaped the world’s markets throughout time and has had many positive and negative effects. However, the most prominent aspect of globalization is not the interchange of things between countries but the separations that globalization has established upon many of these countries, specifically in the East and the West.  In light of this, the group of countries that has been known to come out on top historically, economically, and linguistically, is the Anglosphere. The Anglosphere is a collection of countries that share the English language, namely the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand (Anglosphere). The word Anglosphere is derived from the prefix Anglo which comes from the people known as the Angles that first inhabited Engles, their original home (History).  Although there has recently been evidence to suggest the possibility of the Anglosphere facing a sharp decline to the Eastern Sinosphere, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. There are various factors and variables that when considered, make the latter possibility unlikely.

To understand the Anglosphere and its economic prowess one must comprehend the globally bonding power that the English language has had as a whole. The first traces of the English language arose between 450 AD until 1100 AD, and was started by Germanic tribes that immigrated to the British Isles from northwestern Germany. These Germanic Tribes, the Jutes, Saxons, and Angles, mixed their German dialects together to form Old English i.e. Anglo-Saxon. Later on, in 597 AD, the arrival of Christianity into Saxon England brought an influence of Latin words into the Old English language as well. 200 years after the introduction of Christianity into England, Norse Vikings invaded several parts of the British isles and introduced some pieces of their own language, Norse, into the Old English language (History).

The next formative period for the English language was approximately between 1100 AD until 1500 AD, at which time Middle English was born. The tumultuous events that led to Middle English drastically changed not only the language but English culture as well. During this time period, William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy, conquered the English with his armies and became king. Once king, William the Conqueror set up a government with nobles who primarily spoke French, and because of this, French became the language of English court life, administration, and high culture. Old English remained; however, with the lower classes and so became to be seen as the vulgar tongue. By 1200 AD, France and England had separated and the written language had almost disappeared since the lower class could speak but not write or read. The use of Old English was still resiliently abundant, yet because of the previous connection with France, some French words remained behind and were added to Old English which marked the birth of Middle English. Another defining aspect of Middle English was the Great Vowel Shift during the fifteenth until the eighteenth century. During this language shift there was a tremendous sound change affecting the longer vowels in the English language. For example, the longer vowels now shifted upwards, meaning that vowels that used to be pronounced in one specific area of the mouth would now be pronounced in a different place, higher up (History).

The subsequent linguistic stage to Middle English was Modern English, which is used by members of the Anglosphere in present times. The transition from Middle English to Modern English first occurred around the 1500’s when William Caxton created England’s first printing press at Westminster Abbey. At this printing press the Bible was one of the primary books printed, and because people wanted to understand the word of God they learned to read. Furthermore, what made the printing press truly revolutionary was that it could make books more quickly, cheaply, and brought standardization to the English language. However, this version of Modern English was still not very similar to the linguistic style that members of the Anglosphere use today. Modern English went through 3 different transitional stages, the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, and British Colonialism. The English Renaissance, also known as the Elizabethan era or the age of Shakespeare, taking the name of the famous queen and playwright of the time respectively, was a time marked by a surge of culture in the form of support of the arts, major popularization of the printing press, and large amounts of sea exploration. Through this climactic cultural change, England also added several Greek and Latin words into the English language as a new fascination with the Golden Age of Greece came about. As the Industrial Revolution began, some existing words had to be modified, some new words were also created, as innovative new technology was being produced. Moreover, some of these new technical words were named after their inventors. The final era of Modern English was the British Colonialism age. As the British Empire’s technological advancements and strong economy made it the leading global superpower, it went out to stake its claim around the rest of the globe. The British sent settlers and also conquered numerous countries including America, Australia, New Zealand, India, and parts of Asia and Africa. Some of these countries were more influenced by colonialism than others most evidently those countries in the Anglosphere: America, Australia, and New Zealand.  Finally, through the interaction of the colonists and the natives, Modern English came to its conclusive present day style as more words were added and still continue to be added (History).

The English language has progressed through numerous stages for the Anglosphere to finally come together. For this reason, English has helped give the Anglosphere some particular economic edges that have allowed the Anglosphere to perform better financially than the Eastern Sinosphere, which is also currently on the rise.

One can look at both parties economic market system to see evidence of a financial gap. China employs a centrally directed economic system which can achieve rapid, short-term economic growth but in the long run does not work as efficiently. In contrast, the Anglosphere utilizes a more free-market-oriented economic system and with it the English-speaking nation’s economic growth remains peerless in the long run. In addition, this fact is proven when one looks at the quantitative evidence. The Anglosphere is responsible for more than a quarter of the globes GDP, more than eighteen trillion dollars or 26.1%. On the other hand, the Sinosphere’s GDP is responsible for only 15.1% making the difference in economic GDP quite significant. This is also evident looking at the Anglosphere’s GDP per capita which averages at about $45,000, while the Sinosphere’s GDP per capita is below $10,000. These substantial differences in the market economy are not likely to change in the near future primarily because they can be contributed to the Anglosphere’s absolute advantage over the Sinosphere. The Anglosphere’s lead in most critical economic sectors, along with ample natural resources and a larger food supply gives the Sinosphere a hard time catching up to the Anglosphere’s superior economy (Kotkin).

The English language has also created a unity within Anglosphere countries as they hold cultural and economic ties between themselves steady. The majority of the United States direct foreign investments are in other Anglosphere countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom.  In addition although Australia ,who is catering more to China than in the past with growing commodity exports, Australia, for the most part, still has an Anglosphere affinity and also shows a preference towards  New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States when dealing with direct foreign investments (Kotkin).

The Anglosphere’s economic status is also protected by its superior military defense. The United States dominates military advancements and weaponry and is also headquarters to the world’s largest military defense firms: Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing. The United Kingdom ranks fourth globally in defense spending, and both Australia and Canada rank in the top 15 nations for military spending. Furthermore, to oppose growing power in the Sinosphere, Australia has also joined the Philippines and Singapore, nations where English is also spoken, in an attempt to counterbalance the rising military power of China. The Anglosphere’s economic and military leadership stems from the English-speaking nations’ progressive technological advancements. Computer software, biotechnology, and aerospace firms are abundant in English speaking countries and are at the forefront of technological advances. Moreover, three-fifths of global pharmaceutical-research spending comes from the United Kingdom and the United States.  Most of the leading software companies in the world are also based in the Anglosphere, mainly in the US, home to nine of the top ten market giants. Innovative new companies are also growing in the Anglosphere as the ten fastest-growing software firms, six are American and one is British, are also expanding. Although China is advancing with software firms, they are nowhere near as large as firms in the Anglosphere. Internet companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon have no foreign competitors even remotely close financially, in size, or in influence (Kotkin).

The Anglosphere’s economic power is also tied to its cultural influence. An entertainment capital of the world such as Hollywood, California, which resides in the Anglosphere, surpasses any other entertainment city outside the Anglosphere in gross revenue for media, movies, and television. Media exports, from Hollywood and the cultural capitals of other Anglosphere countries, are rapidly expanding in developing nations.  Hollywood box-office revenues rose by 25 % in South America and 21 percent in the Asia-Pacific region (with China making up 40 percent of that region’s box office). One popular Hollywood blockbuster, Avatar, made over $2 billion outside of America alone. In addition, in some countries, such as Russia, Hollywood films earn twice as much as their domestic counterparts.  The Anglosphere’s cultural influence is not limited by digital media however; it also extends towards music. Many Anglosphere recording artists such as Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift as well as the United Kingdom’s Susan Boyle are on top of global music charts. On the other hand, many Chinese, Japanese, and Korean pop stars have great success in their own countries but are relatively unheard of abroad. This tendency shows that the biggest global stars typically originate from Anglosphere countries. Finally, when it comes to other cultural exports such as fashion this invariably holds true again. Fashion trends tend to collectively be dominated in Anglosphere cities such as New York, Los Angeles and London (Kotkin).

The Anglosphere simply has an absolute advantage linguistically in comparison to all other nations due to the English language. English is the international language used in most of the business and scientific world ,and is also starting to prevail in developing countries such as India, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Kenya, Malaysia, and Bangladesh. Even in the Sinosphere, English is steadily starting to prevail. Many Chinese businessmen do not speak their home language on trips to foreign countries but instead speak English. The Arab Gulf market is also influenced by English as it is spoken in business and political circles in Dubai. Finally, India, another emerging global superpower, has also utilized English as it has become the spoken language for their middle and upper class to communicate when differing dialectic barriers occur (Kotkin).

The Anglosphere’s rise to become the globe’s largest comprehensive super power has taken a long time and many different changes to the English language have occurred since then.  Despite this, it is the unique power of the English language that has cemented English speaking countries together to have a generally similar structure, yet with individual national styles.  Anglosphere countries’ like minded world views and domestic free markets have given them an absolute advantage over other countries. Ultimately, despite many other developing nations, such as India and Russia, and the Sinosphere’s rapidly increasing economies, the Anglosphere’s matchless economic blueprint insures that it is in no danger of losing its first place any time soon.


Work Cited:

“A Brief History of the English Language.” StudyEnglishToday. n.p. n.d. Web. 25 Aug, 2014.

Kotkin, Joel and Parulekar, Shashi. “The State of the Anglosphere.” City Journal. City Journal. n.d. Web. 25 Aug, 2014.

“What is the Anglosphere.” English Language Blog. Transparent Language. 6 Jul, 2012. Web. Aug 25, 2014