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English now belongs to the world

Starting his keynote speech, Economist journalist Lane Greene discussed the difficulties facing smaller, minority languages and how many were now in decline. Very appropriately for the Conference trend, he highlighted how Welsh was very much on an upward trajectory through the many specific initiatives that had been taken to promote the language.

As a counter-balance to recent media coverage on the EU president’s comments about how English was going to start to lose prominence post-Brexit, Lane said the trend world-wide was in fact going the other way.

English had actually transcended country of origin and was being taken up as a global language.

French was also in a strong position, still being spoken in places were the French empire no longer existed.

He pointed out that once the network effect of a language was in the system, it was hard to break.

In research on people tweeting in more than one language, linkages involving English were very strong – other language links were much weaker.

A similar pattern emerged when looking at people translating texts for wider consumption on Wikipedia.

Some more statistics:

There were currently a billion and a half English learners across the world

Nearly all schoolchildren in Europe were learning English

French was the second most common spoken/learned languages

 

It is conceivable in the future that the entire world would share a second language, and at the moment if this happens it is likely to be English.

So English is much closer to being a properly global language than the language that was currently invented specially for this purpose – Esperanto – which now only has around 10,000 + speakers.

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