Did you know that there are more people speaking English in China (as their second language) than there are in the USA (where English is their first language) ?
The Cambridge University Press just published a study that revealed that up to 350 million people in China have at least some knowledge of English – and at least another 100 million in India. That makes China the country in which English is spoken the most. In fact, according to the latest estimates of the World Economic Forum, around 1.5 billion people — or 20% of the global population — speak some English. And it is used widely as the only language for scientific and technological research. Is is truly the world’s “favourite language”.
But could this all change?
According to a recent BBC report, advances in computer translation and voice-recognition technology are so great that people might soon be able to just speak their own language, and hear anyone answering back in their own language, machine-translated in real time.
So English’s days as the world’s top global language may be numbered. As Robin Lustig, The Future of English, BBC World Service presenter puts it :”To put it at its most dramatic: the computers are coming, and they are winning”.
But David Crystal, author of English as a Global Language, thinks English will continue to dominate and not disappear in favour of Mandarin (the language spoken in China), for example. “This is the first time we actually have a language spoken genuinely globally by every country in the world,” he said. But he does acknowledge that you cannot know exactly what the future holds for our language: “There are no precedents to help us see what will happen.”
Scientists believe that one language dies out roughly every 14 days. But English has so many speakers that it will probably continue to be the dominant language in the world for the rest of all our lives. But it might change, mixed with many other local words, and be a very different version of the English it is today.
By : Hannah