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As long as English is the common language, the power shift is limited

Language is the main carrier of knowledge, while innovation can be ignited via communication. As long as the common language is English, the communication among Asians is restrained, so is the innovation. Without innovation, Asia can not lead the world.
The Asians, especially the Japanese, are struggling to learn English, because their mother language is so different. What makes matter worse, it is hard to have a common language for Asians themselves. Some will argue that Mandarine (Chinese) will be proper as common language, because Asian languages, especially Japanese, Korean and Vietnam languages are influenced a lot by Chinese. However, the fact is that the Koreans and Vietnamese already stop using Chinese characters.
In addition, I do not think the day will come when other language replace English as common language. Therefore, the power shift to Asia will be limited.

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    Jan 13 2014: I can't disagree with your assertion, Jack. The East will have to adapt to English to be fully integrated into the global marketplace. No one 'decided' to make English the common language, it just happened by itself over time. Likewise, it's not possible for any governmental body to dictate a different one. The fact is, the East joined the industrial revolution late, and adapting to the west is one of the consequences.
  • Feb 10 2014: The reason English is so widespread is because of colonialism. Britain and its former colonies such as the US still act like empires. Of 196 countries in the world, only 22 of them haven't ever been invaded by Britain. Asking about dominant languages is asking about dominance. There is no reason to assume English-speaking countries will maintain dominance. The greatest empire once was the Spanish Empire which spread Spanish all over the world, but the dominance of Spain and Spanish-speaking countries has subsided.
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    Jan 21 2014: so why have many Asians decided to try to learn English? Is it because the United States has been a very successful country? But the United States did not force English upon anyone else, they only did the things you need to do to become successful, Americans worked hard and took risks, and as a side-effect, they promoted English?
  • Jan 15 2014: I went through Japan and found that a large percentage of the population had an understanding of English. They were not fluent. Are you looking at fluency?
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    Jan 14 2014: 'Power shifts'. "...Asia cannot lead the world." Cannot 'lead the world'. 'Lead the world'. And I thought that type of thinking was outdated - that one particular region or culture should seek to 'lead' (should I read: rule?) the world. My understanding is that we were evolving socially on the planet and that our cultures and societies were finding new ways to co-habitate (sic), respectfully, enrichingly (sic again), for mutual benefit and symbiotic growth. That we are learning that we all have something to offer to each other in this living experience of our ever-'shrinking' planet, and that for us to survive potential annihilation we need to learn to live as a human community. I had no idea that Asia wants to 'lead the world'. Thanks for letting me know...
    • Jan 15 2014: I only commented in response to a TED speech in which "power shift" was used. Also, though a harmonious (co-habitate as you refer to) society as you suggested is finally realized, I still believe there will be leaders in this social structure, or international structure.
      I did not say that Asia wants to 'lead the world', and I do not know how you interpreted this from my comments. It is just pointed out in the TED speech that the power will shift to EAST ASIA, and I argue that this is limited as long as English is the common language.
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        Jan 23 2014: I beg to differ. I quote: "Without innovation, Asia cannot lead the world." And also you did not reference, nor 'point out', that your comment was a response to a TED speech. You produced an 'idea' and had the 'speech' as a related topic only. The idea appears to be yours and that's how i responded. But no worries. No harm done.
  • Jan 13 2014: I think that you are right that launguage plays a big role in the over all power structure, but I also think you put to much enficence on it. Although 1/7 of the populationof the earth is speaking chineese, the u.s. is still considered the world leader. Why? A mixture of the influence politically,militarily, economicaly, religiously, etc....
    • Jan 15 2014: That is because Chinese is not the common language. You should take the number of people who have English as their second language, for example, India. Next time when you call a service number and find that the person speaks English with an Indian accent, you might realize how large is the power of language. By the way, this contributes to the economy of India.
  • Jan 13 2014: You place too much emphasis on language as a focus of power.
    Language can be taught, after all. A common international tongue is usually less important to a nation's power then things like economy or military might, which are harder to replicate.

    The USSR used to go head to head with the US, despite hardly anyone outside of the Soviet Union speaking Russian.
    Granted, the US was always in the lead, but that was mostly because the Soviets had to recover from WWII, and had what in retrospect turned out to be a fundamentally broken economic model. Language was less important.
    • Jan 15 2014: You argue that other factors like economy or military might are more important than language.
      Here let us take economy as example. I believe that innovation is the lasting driving force for economy, which can be facilitated via communication. In the meantime, language is the carrier of knowledge, based on which we can communicate. That is how I drew the conclusion, as long as English is the common language, the power shift is limited.
      You know that in the Soviet Union age, there was a boom in China (I guess this also true for some countries which had affinity to S.U.) to study Russian, though people today rarely studied it.
      • Jan 15 2014: Note that in your example of Russian influence in China, people started learning only after Russian influence kicked in.
        You're confusing cause and effect. The economic and military side of things drives people to learn languages for international use, not the other way around.

        I'm not saying the common language being your mother tongue has no impact, because it does, but that impact is secondary compared to other factors.
        Learning a second language isn't that hard, after all. Most English speakers today don't have it as their mother tongue; in fact, there are more native Mandarin speakers then English.