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Tomasz Poznanski

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Will we eventually have one global language?

Lately, I found myself wondering whether we are slowly sailing towards one global language. If you take a closer look at the current linguistic processes around the world, you will quickly notice that there is a limited number of languages that substantially influence all other languages. Such media like the Internet only intensify this process.

If we assume that English shall continue to spread and make such a tremendous impact worldwide, is it prudent to say that our languages are gradually melting into one? Will they transform overtime to the extent that despite using different languages we will be able to understand each other?

Or are we evolving to bilingualism/multilingualism? Our mother tongue will be retained, but the "overlord" language will be required to fully participate in the global affairs.

Would it make our everyday existence easier, or - on the other hand - would losing other languages trigger a decline in culture-dependent thought diversity?
(see linguistic relativity or Sapir-Whorf hypothesis for details)

Please share your thoughts.

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  • Nov 12 2013: I think it could go either way. I think there is a benefit to a global language but also diadvantages. Language is a cornerstone of culture. We are creatures of tradition as much as habit. I think that because we have 7 official languages in the un that we will continue to consolidate toward those languages. Having a common trade language has been the norm for millienia. English is by my estimation the global trade language of the modern age. If you look at star trek the klingons, romulans, and other civilizations all have a unified language although there are dialects. This was not arbitrary. It is founded in social science of in grouping. If we become a global culture/civilization, and I believe it is a natural progression, then yes we will have a global language. Information can travel much faster and with less cost if there is a global language. Look at vietnamese, they are the only asian country that use roman letters influenced by the french.

    There have been as many languages as cultures. In the past it served to protect ideas which was helpful to block the stealing of ideas and technology. Now we are collaborating more and more inter culturally and internationally. In science the common language is latin. In trade it is english. In politics it is the seven un languages.
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      Nov 14 2013: You are right here, the reasons why we kept our languages distinct are no longer valid. It is no longer helpful to be separated from other nations because of these linguistic differences. But if we unified our languages anyhow, would the benetifs outweigh the cons? Languages are windows into human nature and thought, and thanks to this diveristy we gain a lot of different insights, ideas, approaches and so on.
      • Nov 14 2013: there could also be a middle ground where the benefits equal the cons. If anything, bilingualism will be a stepping stone to a universal language. To be clear I think it is very valid to have multiple languages because of the various thought approaches and insights.

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