The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

English should not be considered an international or universal language.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/31/2012 Category: Society
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,768 times Debate No: 26742
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




English should not be consider universal.
If you believe it should be, please go ahead and accept. Here is an outline of how this debate will work:
Round 1: Not a debate round. Simply use it to accept my debate.
Round 2: I give you my first point to why it should not be universal. You try to argue against it.
Round 3: Same as 2, but with new point.
Round 4: Same as 2 & 3, but with new point.


I agree. This is my first debate on this website but I do debate in school so this should be fun.
Debate Round No. 1


English is NOT a language spoken worldwide. It is only the 3rd largest native language (Mandarin is the first; Spanish the second), and there are thousands of languages spoken today. Only ~5% of the world speaks English at a native level. With ~480 million fluent speakers (both native and learned), which is only about 6% of the world population. That means 94% of the world cannot speak English.

Now, you might argue that most governments speak English. Yes, that is true, however, governments make up a very small portion of the world population. For a language to be truly universal, it must be spoken by the majority of at least the middle class. In many countries, very few people speak English better than their native language. Most of them (except for powerful men and leaders of large business) cannot hold anything more than basic conversation.


First as you did not do definitions You concede that to me. I define Universal: A person or thing having universal effect, currency, or application, in particular.
In your first point you say that only 6 percent of the worlds population speaks English. This is misconstruing facts. Only 6 percent speak English as a first language. The real facts say that 27% of people speak English. This is also the most widely used language used in the world ,and the official language of the European Union and of the United Nations. Mandarin comes in at 18% as t next highest.

In your second point you say that it does not matter that the most governments speak English. In my definition of universal i say it must have universal effect. The fact that the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Great Britan and a number of Caribbean nations as well as the United Nations and the European Union makes it universal. For somebody to engage in any of these Agencies they must learn how to speak English. No other language has something that is this powerful. As with my definition English has a Universal effect due to the most powerful organizations in the world using it.
Debate Round No. 2


First off, English is ONE of the SIX languages of the UN. The others are Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish. The EU has 23 international languages. Some are Greek, Irish, Hungarian, Spanish, Portuguese, German. You stated that 6.5 (Canada speaks French as well) speak English, as well as a number of Caribbean countries (which speak English, but less than the Latin/Romance languages). That is barely scratching the surface. It is no where near universal. There are 196 countries in the world. Those organization you states use English as ONE of their MANY languages. why not call all 6 UN languages universal? A lot of Africa and the Middle East speak Arabic. Russia and former Soviet countries speak Russian. An entire continent (or half of one depending on your geographic views) speaks Spanish and/or Portuguese.


You are just saying random languages. The fact is that every major diplomatic organization uses English. There cannot be a diplomat organization without English. As this effects everybody this follows my definition of universal such making it a con vote as of right now. He is even ignoring the fact that it is the most spoken language worldwide as more than 1/4 of the world knows how to speak English. No other language even passes 1/5.

The pro case even says " most governments speak English" and that it does not matter. How is this not universal? Why would most governments speak a language that is not universal?
He is also providing no evidence and throwing random facts without anything to back it up.
Debate Round No. 3


The statement that all diplomatic organizations use English is false. The Nordic Council only uses 3 languages, none of which are English ( The Arab League has 1 official language, Arabic ( The Arab Maghreb Union has 2, Arabic and French ( Governments/organizations speak the language that most of the people they speak with will understand. Yes, most government leaders know English, but only use it when dealing with English speaking people. The leaders of UAE and Saudi Arabia will use Arabic when talking. The leaders of El Salvador and Mexico will use Spanish when in meeting. Please note, I do say most, not all governments.

Please provide your [trustful] source which states that 25% of the world speaks English.

This brings me to another point. English is a very hard language for many to learn. If you are not a European (or any country that writes in the Latin Alphabet), you will have to learn a new alphabet. Some people will even have to learn to produce a new sound (for example, someone who only speaks Hebrew will have to learn to make the "j" sound). The grammar is very different form that of Arabic, and the writing system different from most Asian languages. English is very irregular and complex, so that makes it much more difficult for those not raised in an English environment to learn. A truly universal language would have to incorporate all the different types of language into one and be very regular, so that anyone can learn it with not too much difficulty.


You say (or imply) that my source of Wikipedia is not a reliable source. This says otherwise and you do not rebut this.

Next, You say that there are a few organizations that do not use English. I did overlook this but my point still stands. The Language is a universal language because it does have universal effect.

You say next that it is hard to learn English. English is still the language that is best known.
"Yes, most government leaders know English, but only use it when dealing with English speaking people." This proves exactly what I have been trying to pro the entire time. It has a universal effect because people outside of the native country will have to learn it.
Because I proved that English has a universal effect on the world I urge a con ballot.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Bordenkircher 5 years ago
Thanks for that debate. One thing I think should have happened is we should have come to common agreement as to what a "universal language" is before the debate. Just information, the definition I was using was "A language spoken by the majority of the average persons in the world."
Posted by baseballkid 5 years ago
I would like to thank my opponent for this debate.
Posted by baseballkid 5 years ago
Just to be clear I accept the debate and rules not your statement.
Posted by Muted 5 years ago
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Muted 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro makes a mistake by not defining his terms in the first round.