English-speakers may smugly talk about the dominance of their language in global business today, but will English continue to be the future lingua franca?
Probably not— accordingly to a recent study in Science Magazine. "English in Decline as a First Language, Study Says" by Stefan Lovgren, Nationhttp://zhongwen.com/z/x46.htmal Geographic News.
"Graddol argues that the world's language system is at a crossroads, and a new linguistic order is about to emerge. The transformation is partly due to demographics. The world's population rose rapidly during the 20th century, but the major increase took place in less developed countries.
Long gone is the idea, first suggested in the 19th century, that the entire world will one day speak English as a "world language." In fact, the relative decline of English is continuing. In the mid-20th century, nearly 9 percent of the world's population grew up speaking English as their first language. In 2050, the number is expected to be 5 percent."
"Today, Mandarin Chinese is well established as the world's largest language in terms of native speakers. The next four major languages—English, Spanish, Hindi/Urdu, and Arabic—are likely to be equally ranked by 2050, with Arabic rising as English declines.
But it is the languages of the rank just below—such as Bengali, Tamil, and Malay—that are now growing the fastest."
"While many rural languages are going extinct, new urban hybrid languages may help to maintain global diversity. Hundreds of new forms of English have already been spawned around the world."
"In the future, the study predicts, most people will speak more than one language and will switch between languages for routine tasks. Monolingual English speakers may find it difficult to fully participate in a multilingual society. Native English speakers—particularly monolingual ones—have been too complacent about the status of their language and the lack of need to learn other languages," Graddol said.
English will still dominant the language of science, but just as Latin was taken over by English in the 17th century, this may also happen in the world of science at some point in the future.
Time to dust off my Mandarin text books.Posted by nicole at March 8, 2004 03:27 PM