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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Is a monolingual or oligolingual world inevitable?

Of the 6000 or so languages in the world today, only about 4% of them are widely spoken. The rest are in danger of extinction. One estimate states that by 2050, 90% of the world's languages will be extinct. 
If that's the case, are we heading to a world where only one or a few languages are dominant? I think so.

The many different measuring systems have mostly been replaced by the metric system. The many different numeric systems have almost completely been replaced by Hindu-Arabic numerals. The many different calendars have largely been replaced by a common one.

The above trend leads me to suspect that the coming language wars will be like Highlander:

If English is Connor Macleod, who is the Kurgan? I say Mandarin.

Or maybe it is English that will lose its head. Whichever language maintains economic and cultural dominance will win.

Another possibility is that the dominant languages will splinter the way Latin and other did.

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