What language will people speak in the future?
That’s the subject of a chapter from new book “The Language Wars: A History of Proper English” by Farrar, Straus and Girous, extracted at Salon.com. English currently continues to dominate as the lingua franca of business and popular culture and it’s widely used in other industries. It’s also the most popular second language in the world: more people speak English as a second language than there are native speakers.
This has consequences – the authors see the rise of different, local Englishes as being the main challenge facing the language. Native speakers may soon have no advantage as English becomes a standard requirement, as seen from a study published by the British Council:
When polled in 2005, more than 80 per cent of people in the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden claimed to be able to speak English. The ﬁgure was around 60 per cent in Finland, 50 per cent in Germany, 30 per cent in France and Italy, and 20 per cent in Spain and Turkey. These ﬁgures can safely be assumed to have increased. They come from a study published in 2006 by the British Council, an organization set up in 1934 and today operating as an “international cultural relations body” in more than a hundred countries. In 1989 its Director General, Sir Richard Francis, stated that “Britain’s real black gold is not North Sea oil, but the English language.”
The full extract is absolutely fascinating – take a look! It’s also a great affirmation for native English speakers learning a second language – your bilingualism will be a great advantage in future years.