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Languages

Top 10 langauges

I just read a report on the World’s 10 most influential languages. I found the statistic quite interesting and I would like to share some of my observation. The report is created by George Weber. It is one of the most cited paper in linguistic or cultural journals. The paper ranked the influence of languages base on the following criteria:

1. Number of primary speakers
2. Number of secondary speakers
3. Number and population of countries using the language
4. Number of major areas of human acitivity in which the language is important
5. Economic power of countries using the language
6. Socio-literary prestige of the language

To no one’s surprise, English is the world’s most influential language. It is very likely that English will become THE international language as the lingua francas, the mean of communication between people speaking different languages. Most people learn English as their default second language. I am surprise that number of second language speakers of French is even higher than English. French was the de facto language in Europe in the past few centuries, although it has lost most of its glory. The two major advantages of English are its official language status in many countries and the economy power of English-speaking countries. To my surprise, even though US and England are two most prominent English speaking countries, they do not have an official language.

Chinese ranked number 6, but its future is quite worrying. Chinese is the mother tongue for most people among all the languages, but it is not influential outside its own people. It seems the Chinese speaker don’t really care about spreading the influence of Chinese. Foreigners come to China are not expected to know Chinese, we are happily talking to them in English. Although we appreciate foreigners make effort to learn the language, but not really appreciate when they succeed. We are so proud of speaking a language so complex that others could not master.

There are three truly international languages: English, French and Arabic. Both of the former two have Latin roots, so they close to each other in the linguistic family tree. My bet is that English will replace French over time in term of influence. French will become a regional language like Russian or Spanish. Arabic has a different linguistic eco-system that is totally independent of the West. Its spread and use is mostly base on Muslim and the study of Koran. Here is my prediction for World languages usage in 22nd century. Most of the minority language, especially those without any official status, will mostly disappear. Major languages with sufficient population will remain prosper within the host country or even become dominant in regional level. English and Arabic would be the remaining two languages compete on the global level with English has a substantial lead. The clash of civilization will be between the English-world, including all the countries happily embrace learning English, and the Arabic-world that refuse globalization fueled with Muslim’s anit-Western mentality.

3 comments to Languages

  • Dear Horace,

    Sorry to trouble you. And so sorry for posting this message under a totally unrelated post. I like to see if you can help.

    A dedicated Korean TV fan is organizing a campaign to try to reverse an unjust permanent ban of Park Shin-yang (朴新陽) to try to have him able to work in Korean TV again.

    Please help spread the news of the site ’Counter Ban for Park Shin Yang’ ( http://cb4py.wordpress.com/ ) if you can. The blogger has put a lot of time and effort in organizing a campaign (with blog, Facebook group, email campaigns) to try to help 朴新陽 to be able to work in Korean TV again.

    The momentum is growing strong as the site ( http://cb4py.wordpress.com/ ) has recently been reported in Korea Media: DongA and one of the biggest portals: Naver! (See below blog for more details.)

    Thanks a million.

    Please delete this comment if you feel offended, I just feel so bad by how unjustly Park (朴新陽) has been treated by the Korean producers association and felt that I had to try to help more.

    Again, so sorry for posting under a totally unrelated post. My bad.

    P.S. The unjust permanent ban was initiated by the Corea Drama Production Association (where many Korean production companies are a member, sometimes referred to as Korea(n) Television Drama Production Company Association (KTDPCA)). See blog for more detail.

  • I read it on the news a few weeks ago. It seems the poor actor sue the production firm for unpaid wage and end up banned to act forever.

    If it’s in US, it’s easy, just sue it all the way to the supreme court and ask for a huge punitive damage. In Korean, where the justice system can’t be trusted, probably it won’t work. Maybe Korean actors should unionize like the US actors and fight for their rights.

  • Yeah, surely a case of “Hmmm, you dare to sue and ask to be paid for your work on the price we agreed before!!! How dare you. Lets work together to ban you for life and set an example. “Kill a chicken to warn a monkey.” Very sad situation in Korea. A country that doesn’t have sufficient respect of the rule of law and the laws of contract.

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