Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Astonishing Prediction: English Will Disappear as a Lingua Franca.

At present English is the most successful language in the history of the world. It’s spoken in every continent, is learned as a second language by schoolchildren. Nicholas Ostler, an English scholar of the rise and fall of languages, makes a surprising prediction in his latest book:
The Last Lingua Franca ”, as English will eventually go the way of Persian, Greek and Latin and over hundreds of years will die out because is not expanding as a mother tongue.
For the last four centuries the dominant world power has been English speaking, but now the global balance of power is shifting. In many countries like Russia, China and Brazil English is not part of the national tradition and is not spoken as a first language. Moreover the increasing power and cheapness of computers, combined with the advances of computer translation and speech recognition, will overcome the incompatibility between languages. Thus, according to Ostler, we are moving toward a more multilingual and diverse future where no one language will replace English.
Other linguists, like David Crystal and Robert McCrum, don’t share this pessimistic view as they think that English will somehow still be used worldwide. Undoubtedly the historical circumstances that led to the decline of other lingua-francas are very different from those in which English finds itself today. Global capitalism, global politics, global media and instant communication will make the disappearance more difficult.
Rest assured that we won't be around if and when this change will come about.