Where do you see the world in 20 years? (13)

1 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-10-25 04:22 ID:suXbJhnd

Just happened on a funny idea while I was doing laundry:
what is the world going to be like with regard to language in twenty years time?

particular thoughts:

  • Will English continue to grow as a second language for people everywhere?
  • Will relatively contained languages like Chinese become more asserted and gain a wider use outside of native speaking groups?
  • What will happen with language revitalization efforts as in Wales and Euskadi?
  • Do any languages stand to become dominant in a particular field or trade?
  • What will happen in countries which have nationalist/ethnic divisions like Belgium and the US?
  • 【crazy】 Could a major linguistic shift occur in two decades?

2 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-10-26 03:02 ID:+m3k0OG4

Whenever I make predictions, I'm always dead wrong.
It stands to reason that I can trust the opposite of my thoughts are the most accurate.

∴ No change.

3 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-11-07 00:27 ID:GrlKBg0H

1.) English will probably decline. I think Western civilization (USA and Europe) are declining, while Asia is becoming more of an economic power.
2.) Asian languages won't dominate unless they can successfully come up with a Latin Alphabet version. Hanzi and Kanji are too complex to become a useful standard. But as economic powerhouses, they may choose an interlang if learning HAnzi/Kanji proves a trade barrier.
3.) The language will be spoken, yet no one will ever be a native speaker.
4.) Ethnic divisions should decline -- most minorities speak the dominant language. Provided that there is no discrimination, the younger generation will have less identification with the ethnic group and more with the dominant culture.

4 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-11-07 04:30 ID:Heaven

>3.) The language will be spoken, yet no one will ever be a native speaker.

That's a really interesting thought! When the number of second speakers vastly outnumbers native speakers, it stands to logic that the language could at some point undergo a "pidginization" of natural processes and imposed reforms which ends with something that can't really be called the original language.

>4.) Ethnic divisions should decline -- most minorities speak the dominant language. Provided that there is no discrimination, the younger generation will have less identification with the ethnic group and more with the dominant culture.

Spanish Basqueland provides a counterexample: discrimination largely ended after the tumultuous period following the end of the fascist dictatorship, and all of the sudden the number of Basque speakers, and, correspondingly, nationalism, began growing exponentially.

I guess that might be considered a delayed reaction to the earlier discrimination, but it's sort of taken a life of its own, reached "critical mass" so to speak. Now most education in the region is conducted in Basque, and, unless something crazy happens, the Spanish state will never again try to suppress the language, so it's quite possible the entire region will become Basque by the next generation or so.

I would admit, though, that this process isn't normal, and most minority languages probably will fade away. But some can succeed in capturing the education system and thus become reestablished as the popular language of the region. I do not think such languages will be displaced.

5 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-11-08 13:48 ID:exzIidzf

I don't believe English will decline despite the population and economic growth of China and India. English as a second language is fast becoming the norm in those countries as they are often forced to learn it in school. More likely, Asian countries will adapt to English rather than the other way around. Although, I guess with increasing trade between China and the Western world, being competent at Chinese would be a useful trait.

6 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-11-08 22:03 ID:druz+/2y


I think it depends a little on the future of the US. With its economy dwindling at the moment, if it doesn't recover and is greatly overtaken by China, the Chinese might get so much more of a cultural significance that some Chinese dialect becomes more sought after worldwide. Same might apply for some Indian language.

However, if the US rises back up, English may very likely stay important.

The international lingua franca changing isn't so damn far-fetched. It used to be Latin, then French, and now English -- perhaps, soon, Mandarin or Hindu.

7 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-11-09 09:59 ID:exzIidzf


Even still, I just couldn't see Westerners trying to adapt to another language. I think it comes down to the rather stubborn/ arrogant nature. I saw this first hand at a trade convention in China. Plus English is a derivative of Latin and French, so it has roots, whereas Mandarin and Hindu are immensely different languages vocally, textually and culturally. I stress the culturally different bit because most people don't realise the significance unless they know both languages very well. I don't deny that Mandarin will become more significant in the future, but I don't think to the point where it takes precedence over English. At least, not within twenty years. Like I said before, more likely, China and India will continue adapting to English as they have been for a while now.

8 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-11-09 14:59 ID:druz+/2y


Ah, I definitely don't think English will be entirely overtaken by Hindu or Chinese by 20 years. In fact, English as a second language won't really ever be completely 'overtaken'. It, of course, depends on where you live and what is most important to you. On the other hand, I do think that in 20 years, Japanese, Koreans and Mongols might have much more of an incentive to learn Chinese than English -- and Pakistanis and Afghans Hindu.

Given time, however, I find it natural that English will be 'replaced', in lack of a better word. Though, again, it won't ever truly be 'replaced': even in a hundred years, assuming the best case for Chinese and the worst case for English, western Europeans might still get a lot from knowing English.

tl;dr: Location, location, location.

As a side note, I'd personally find it really awesome if everyone learned Iláksh or Ithkuil or something. Of course that won't happen... :3

9 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-11-09 16:40 ID:nKfAAb2Y

It's Hindi, not Hindu. I don't think Hindi will have more importance in the world in the future. In fact, it is getting less and less important to know Hindi in India, especially South India where English is gaining popularity. You can get by fine in South India if you know English as opposed to Hindi (obviously knowing the local language is better).

10 Name: Maxund Morritz : 2007-11-09 16:56 ID:8HBPyxUW

In many countries where a language unique to that country is spoken such as Finland or Turkey students are first taught English and then courses from then on use English language textbooks. I can remember buying a beef sandwich from a street vendor in Istanbul and finding that it was wrapped in a test paper written in English. As long as most textbooks are in English and not in peculiar regional one such as Punjabi English will remain the number one language. There is an exception. The number one language is Hindustani. Mathematics uses a number system that comes to us from India by way of Arab traders many centuries ago. Pick up any paper currency and you can find how much it is worth due to Arab-Hindustani numbers.

11 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-11-09 20:21 ID:6sZgteie

Yeah, probably English will dominate. Although that will be an international English that will be hard to understand by native English speakers. I have seen people having great difficulties understanding English if it isn't spoken exactly as they learned it.

  • Whare is dee stazion?
  • What?

12 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-11-10 00:45 ID:Heaven

Just because we know where numbers come from doesn't make the language it comes from any more (or less) important. There is just no relation.

13 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-11-10 04:27 ID:exzIidzf

Yeah, I see what you mean. Though in my opinion, the English language will evolve into a kind of universal language, rather than get replaced by an entirely different language. English has been continually evolving over the ages as a result of cultural change, and this versatility is why it's lasted as long as it has.

My apologies. Hindi, not Hindu.

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