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Will English still be the dominant language in 2050?

Wednesday 07September 2016

Will English still be the dominant language in 2050?

Remember that time when your friend signed up for Esperanto lessons, arguing that it was poised to replace English within 10 years? Well clearly he should have turned to sushi making or 3d printing classes instead... Now he’s learning Chinese. Same mistake? Most probably. Here are 5 reasons that lead scientists to be confident that English is here to stay.

English is everywhere

Technology, culture, print, the media... The massive representation of English in all these areas combined to the exponential growth of written and audiovisual material over the last century has created a strong momentum in favor of English. Think of a river flowing heavily:it’s much harder to divert its course than to move a still pond from one place to another. Well English is just that river.

English is the language of science

80 percent to 90 percent of papers in scientific journals are in English. This means discoveries are first shared in English and most of the knowledge is available in this language. Transferring this corpus to another single linguistic paradigm would just be unthinkable.

People are not ready for tones

Mandarin Chinese is a tone language, meaning many words are pronounced the same except for the tone which is responsible for the actual meaning. That’s one the reason that makes it so hard to learn that language for users whose languages are not tonal. The reverse, of course, is not true.

Chinese writing: hard to switch to

Mastering the Chinese characters is particularly difficult for anyone whose native language it isn’t, which makes the language unlikely to replace English as a second language for non-native speakers.

International communications will grow further

The shrinking of the world increases the volume of communication between people who speak different languages. Also Britain and the US are likely to become less powerful politically in the future, the need for a common referent language across the world will only become stronger. And the very nature of a common referent implies people turn to it when they need one, they don’t create a new one. As English is already the main international language, it’s most likely to remain so.