The history of the world is characterized by great diversity in languages and societies as small groups split off and develop their own ways of talking and interacting. This diversity has been periodically checked by the rise of larger societies and economies, created by empires, evangelism and the demands of trade and diplomacy. Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic and Chinese have all held sway at different times and to different extents. The last century has seen the rise of one language, English, as a common means of communication around the world: in science, literature, academia, media, entertainment, trade and everyday talk. Its global reach is arguably unprecedented in the history of humankind. Languages such as Chinese, Spanish, Russian, Hindi and Bengali also have vast demographic constituencies, though not as much global capital as English. How do societies react to the language challenge? How do global languages influence ways of thinking and reasoning, ways of seeing the world, ways of expressing feelings? How does this affect small language groups? How do they influence other modes of communication? Global Languages, the Humanities Research Centre theme for 2015, provides the opportunity to explore these questions.
Under this theme, the HRC will host conferences and symposia, including one dedicated to English as a world language. Other events will focus on issues of knowledge production, literacies, civilizational shifts and the geopolitics of language worlds.
Between 10 and 15 fellowships were awarded in this round.