1 The Department of Culture and Identity, Roskilde University2 Language and Society in Late Modernity, Department of Communication and Arts, Roskilde University3 Funktionel grammatik og pragmatik, Department of Communication and Arts, Roskilde University
English appears to be ›the‹ lingua franca of the world at present. But English is far from the only language relevant for transnational communication under the conditions of high-tech capitalism. Ironically, technical development (as manifest in the increasingly multilingual and multiscript character of the World Wide Web) makes high-tech capitalism less dependent on the existence of a single world language. The special status of English today is seen as a form of hegemony that makes its dominance appear as natural and unquestioned. Haberland uses historical examples of dominant languages in Europe (Greek, Latin) to argue that language hegemonies develop out of political, economical and military hegemony but take on a life of their own that can outlast the dominance relations that helped to create it. Some of the problems of the existence of a hegemonic language are discussed and a warning is made against language protectionism.