Vying for the Language Throne

If you are planning on doing business in some other country or just planning on some travelling and you can speak English you can be confident that there will be someone who understands the language. This is because English is the global language.

But will it always remain this way or will some other language take hold of the throne?

Before we look ahead at the potential new world language let’s first look back at how English got to occupy the throne.

There are a couple reasons why English became the world leader and most have to do with being in the right place at the right time. But the main reason has to do with the empires that spoke the language throughout history. Up until the 1920’s the British Empire was the largest empire in history and they pushed the English language as a way of assimilating their colonies into the British Commonwealth. As they took over more and more territory they taught people how to speak the language and this was later snowballed with the emergence of the United States as a world power. Over the next many years the United States grew to become the world’s financial powerhouse. This happened at a time when the world’s economies were becoming intertwined and globalization was starting to take the world by storm. Hence, right place right time.

In the end this resulted in what we have today; around a billion people who speak English in over a hundred countries. But even with all that, English is not the world’s largest language.  That honour goes to Chinese and the many dialects that comprise the language. While Chinese is not the global language does this mean that it may take over control as the world’s global language?

Probably not. The Chinese language, unlike the English language is made up of many different dialects that are more often than not referred to as different languages. But if we look strictly at the largest dialect, Mandarin the issue with this language is that it is not as widespread throughout the world as that of English. It is very centralized within its own base. But with the growth of the Chinese economy this could change

So what else is there?

French has some potential. In a study by Natixis it was shown that we may see a resurgence in the French language and that it may even retake the global language throne which it used to sit upon. The argument for this is that since French has found a home in many countries which are the fastest growing economies such as the many counties in sub-Saharan Africa when their economies grow the French language will also grow. Although the language will be growing in terms of total speakers it is unlikely that it will spread as far as the English language because of the strength of the many other languages that already have a large base throughout the world.

So nothing will change then?

While there are many other languages that could become the next global language it still seems that English is in pretty good standing. With many other countries starting to teach English at a younger age and pushing it as a second language it does not seem like it is going anywhere. But with all the factors that go into making a language go global, it is all speculation as to what language will hold the throne in the future. Maybe we will see a new language come into play that does not exist right now or maybe it will be some obscure language.

What do you think the language of the future will be?

Comment (I always comment back, promise)