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English has been the dominant global language for a century, but is it the language of the future? Jennifer Pak finds that for some in South East Asia, Mandarin Chinese is becoming increasingly important.
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you gotta understand what the boss says. if suddenly a martian comes and buys everything you're selling, pretty soon you'll be speaking martian.
In the future people will speak whatever Siri understands better :)
since ipad is a chinese name, the companies had better make the products written in chinese, so the world starts to understand chinese symbols.
No doubt English will remain as a Global Language but learning Mandarin Chinese will be invaluable in future .....
On a more serious tone, why are you neglecting Spanish?
The question of the article is wrong from linguistic point of view in my opinion. Neither "English" nor "Mandarin" as they are now and as we understand them now will be the languaguages of the future............Matthias, Deutsch kommt leider gar nicht in frage, schuldigung......I really do think that the future of the languages is a language which is somehow close to English, but in the form we certainly would not understand it today, some unidentified mixture of English, Spanish and some Eastern influences, too, maybe.......
Matthias, ich hoffe das is nicht die Zukunft.........Deutsch-Tschechisch.......waere es eine Hoffnung fuer Sie? .........Kein Spass mehr fuer die andere Leute die diese Spraeche nicht koennen......aber nicht schechte Idee, Mann lacht sehr gut damit......... Sorry for my terrible German, but you know what I mean......I wanted to be closer to what you mean by "Cesko - Nemecky"
That's means my son wouldn't learn English anymore possible in the future .
By the way , this picture is quintessential.
Leonard: I think all languages are evolving and do not stop evolving. According to my stupid view the English in the actual form will be somehow stopped - by paradox - by its giant extension, because it will have to assimilate different language substrates it is living on, after a certain Babylon Tower it will become a new language, mixture of English as we know today and of other languages it has to assimilate voluntarily and involuntarily..........
+Tomáš Matras Although I couldn't understand you completely for my poor English, I'm glad you reply me.
German is the language of the future, of course ;)
Seriously: No one knows! But what we do know is that multi-lingual people have a better life now and will also have a better future than anyone who is stuck to one language only.
That's exactly why i want to learn Mandarin besides English and German...
Android will be the language of the future.
We may safely assume that hardly anyone ain't certain that the language of the future is his/her native. I'm no exception.(my native is Russian). Logic or mathematical calculations (if any) is of no help when judging on the subject. Did Edgar Cayce say anything of that? I sure predict the objections to that way of reasoning. What do philologists say of Sanskit and it's importance?
It is true that Mandarin is the language of the future, all is about how soon we realize it.
Vhaskar Mukherjee
If China continues to develop as the manufacturing base of the whole world, its language will become more important. Don't forget Spanish and Arabic as lingua francas for a post-colonial diaspora and a religion respectively.

Something like English could remain popular, but it'll be a simplified, mutually intelligible version based on the similarities between all the different variants in the west, east and far east. It won't be Standard British or American English, but these may retain prestige.
I'll be making sure my new child learns Mandarin.

Wouldn't mind learning a bit myself, too!
+Syangjali Thito Magar , native English speakers tell me that they find it hard to learn German, but I think that's because native English speakers find any other language than English hard to learn ;) So: If you already have learned English as a foreign language think German would be easy to learn.
I took German in high school and you are correct. It was pretty easy and close to English.
+Matthias Bree , half of English comes from French, so learning English should be easy for French speakers, right...? In reality they are all very closely related and should be easy to learn. But neither English nor French schools know how to teach languages properly, so the French think English is hard and the English think German is hard.
+Oliver Hoffmann, Native English speakers (excluding me, of course) find other languages hard to learn because they're stupid and lazy. We have this utterly misguided notion that 'everyone in the world speaks English anyway'. It's not true, and nor is it an excuse for being rude in other people's countries.

That said, I've never got round to learning German...
We dont think it is hard - we just think it sucks completelly
Wow +James Morris Stupid and Lazy, I think not.
I find other languages difficult to learn due to the basic structure of English being very dissimilar to most other languages. I strive to learn as much about other languages as I can, but have no real need (i do not travel outside of the US and my work is essentially service plumbing not much call for international relations)

you paint with a broad brush, and I would ask you to please keep your paint off of me and others like me...
+James Morris Then s/everyone in the world/everyone in the world who does anything useful or matters/. Learning multiple languages is mental effort wasted which could have been better spent being constructive.
No ruder than foreigners expecting everything in America to accomadate their language needs. We should not have to our ballots in 7 or 8 languages, If you live in America you should be able to communicate in english, at least enough to function in our society it is America and we speak English here. You are right if you are in someones country you should try to function using their language when they are here they should speak English
the time you enjoyed wasting is not wasted time........
Re. German - my native language is portuguese, I also speak and write fluently in english, french and spanish and manage to keep a conversation in italian and german. Therefore I will keep myself away from this debate, since I am all for language diversity. Languages are beautiful.
But I always found it easy to grasp both a language and pronunciation. German is quite easy in terms of getting a good accent, for me the problem is, in order to speak it correctly, first you must build the whole sentence in order to get it right, unlike the other languages I speak. Therefore writing in german is no big issue, yet speaking it is quite hard for me.
I guess this is all about where you live and how much you practice it. If I lived in a german speaking country I would learn it quickly. And one could say that about any other language, I guess.
At the end of the day, I believe a simpler language, in which you can get understood even when your accent is not that good or you make some grammatical errors, and that lots of people talk frequently (or listen to) will "win" in the end.
Numbers in media content - movies, tv, music, internet - will be the key. The sound of it will have to be the most familiar to us all.
Is it becoming more important in order to have access to a larger part of the Chinese economy? Would the Chinese not do business with you because you don't speak their language?
Wie bei den Sprachen, ein gewisser Kick gehört halt dazu ;-))
I must be in the wrong place, but I prefer English over Chinese. First, it's easy to read and write, the sounds are elegant to hear. I'd tried to enjoy Chinese songs but it didn't work. Second, the English has a long history of serving the communicational, educational or even historical means. If you want to know everything, learn English. Chinese is old in age but still weak in power. I think the idea that Chinese will rule is because the growing majority of people who speak it in Asia, and China alone is big enough. If I were to choose a future language at all, I would say English, even it's a crazy language, even my mother tongue use only the present tense. But long live English!
I truly believe english will still be the language of the future due to the mandarin spelling complexity and a student for sure will need a lot more time to understand it and practice it.
As much as I appreciate and love the artistic beauty of Chinese characters, I think English is more pragmatical than is Chinese.
English will remain dominant, probably will become even more simple to understand. Either way, in the future as long as you don't forget your mobile phone at home you are likely to be able to communicate in dozens of different languages at an acceptable level.
China's the biggest potential market in the world
The English language brings people together and will remain the international communication business and social tool. Also, English is the language of "freedom" in which people can express themselves without being censured. I agree, long life to English!
obviously english will be the future language as it was.hehe
The problem with embracing multilingualism, is that you're supporting information decay (lost in translation). This is why science papers are all written in English.

People attach far too much romanticism to languages as some kind of cultural treasure, but the fact is, languages only serve one purpose, to communicate with other people, and having over 6,900 languages on the planet only serves to divide the species.
no, sorry, this is 21st century..........please do not give examples 2 centuries ago...........Dostoievsky was antisemitic, Kipling hated Indians, Twain hates these sound like a good examples?
+Nils Gey Yes, English is easier to write, way easier, but I can fit so much more with Chinese in a tweet.
+Steven Ho You know, email exceeded twitter's 140 character limitations 3 decades before twitter was invented.
English please. Its so difficult to write, read, speak in Mandarin given that I haven't done it ever in my life and plan never to.
The Chinese will learn English faster than we can learn Chinese anyway.
لغة القرآن هى لفة المستقبل.
Lawyers would like it, think how more complicated you can make your contracts...

Yes they will become the largest market, but I seriously doubt it will result in it becoming the world language, unless the Chinese emulate the Borg from Star Trek and force everybody to use it. I have some personal issues with the Chinese, but I don't think they will go to that level.

Other side of the coin, what is the chance of Mandarin losing ground in China amongst the Chinese due to more and more exposure to the world outside?

Then again if their numbers keep on increasing and they emigrate to every country in the world, they could basically conquer it using democracy...
Ladies and gentlement, I know about 7 to 8 languages and I travel a lot (including Japan and China). You can speak whatever language you want but I come to realization that English is the common denominator to all cultures on earth. Please travel more if you have not. No language is good or bad, we are talking about the most commonly used tool to communicate between thousands of cultures on the planet. Stay focused on the topic, please. I love all languages and everyone should stive to learn most of them. That's my opinion obviously. Thanks.
we are speaking of language of future and not of present, if I am not mistaken........I think none denies the relevance of English today, but in future? who knows?
yes, the language of the future is the technofascist silence of the radios in our heads :-)))))))
Google + is our future
names, profiles, chatting forever........
Actually time doesn't exist,. and here we don't speake about people, we talk of ideas..... Basically we are all a mix of countries, ... If the human being evolves, humanity will try to find the best and easiest way to communicate, no matter what country or people is behind
Linda J
If Chinese is the language of the future, then Tao te ching should be the holy book of the future. Both are unlikely to happen.
Chinese is kind of hard to understand and sometimes doesnt make sense, but it is a good language, I would say better than English
Hauptsache, wir verstehen uns. ( Google Translator says: The main thing we see ourselves. )
English forever! Nothing else matters...!
I keep holding out for Latin to make a comeback as the world's lingua franca.

(See what I did there?)
Though theoretically no language is better than the other, some people prefer to use some languages than others. The reason might be laid on how developed or powerful the country of that language is.
both are important
That is cool. Better learn to speak mandarin now!
Not even sign language is global
The Chinese language is actually one of the Oldest - I have a book about Genesis in Chinese language that states the Chinese language shows the origins of man! (the alphabet is pictographs of a tree, man and woman in garden, etc) - it actually agrees with the Americas' side of the world's Holy Book - the Holy Bible!
+Tomáš Matras no you are already on a hard drive, a code in a system working other mundane codes kept sane by dreaming of something you can never attain. Making A.I. isn't the problem making one that isn't insane is. Tyrell more human than human.
Jack from China teach Chinese for free, welcome to contact me .skype:luoqing313.
Although over 100 million people speak Chinese, I, as a chinese, don't think Chinese will become a dominant language. Chinese is so hard for foreigners and chinese. English will continue developping.
The question is will it be Chinglish or Englese?
Considering English it's a mixture of German, Spanish, French, Greek, Anglo-Saxon, and several other languages, and considering the fact that we add words from other languages to our vocabulary every day, I think it is safe to assume English will assimilate.
whatever English Chinese or German, I can speak all of them
you guys just misinterpreted me according to me english is going to be the global language
the important is not how much. Important is who. the futur will say.
why English is the wide-used language? It is not about how simple English is. It is about that there were so many British colonies and residents in those countries were force to speak English in history. But now Chinese popularity mostly depends on its economic growth, so if it stops growing, maybe no one is willing to learn Chinese. In this way, few choose to learn a foreign for interesting.
Any ja hwo that followed Sci-Fi already knew that both Manderin and English will be gao guhn in the future....and I for one think that is totally shiny!
why should this matter to us if were talking about 200 years in the future
Those who are from English-speaking countries don't have to spend half of their time at school on learning a foreign language, like most Chinese children do. So there's something you guys don't understand. I'm 23 years old and I've already been learning English for 14 years. Can you imagine that? 纠结学英文的一定要顶!Und +Matthias Bree Deutsch ist auch eine große Sprache, besonders in Europa. Aber meine Meinung nach ist Deutsch schwerer und komplexer als Englisch für auslandische Kinder zu lernen. Deshalb ist Englisch geeigneter für globale Sprache. I admit that Chinese is more difficult to learn than most languages in the world. 说到底还是中文博大精深!我会中文我自豪!哈哈!某朝网民看见了可一定要顶啊!
Mandarin Chinese might become the new English, but what about Hindi? It also has quite a big majority of speakers, doesn't it?
Don't know the future is "how many years"
Hindi is probably much harder to learn, Chinese is very simple grammatically. Although the script doesn't do Chinese any favours and nor does the fact that most Chinese study English.
I think English have the domination over the Mandarin
True! English is the World Language, it's the Future!
No one can know the future exactly.As the Chinese economic was switched ON - it can be also turned OFF.We only can remain attentive to environment that change too quickly and try to survive.Being within people who know the game of life's rules - is best variant but almost impossible.;)
I'm fortunate to know both languages. I still think English is the future.
+1 for Esperanto :)
It is a constructed language and made to be very easy to learn but still remaining powerful.
Every country can keep their native language and for everything else there is Esperanto. Super easy to learn (I translated the Wikipedia article of my hometown from German to Esperanto, after learning the language for just 6 hours :) )
It belongs to no country, so there are no disadvantages for people who don't have Esperanto as their mother tongue because everyone has to learn it. Everyone is on the same level :)
Because of the structure of the language, you can speak almost every common sentence with just 400 base vocabularys. There are no conjugations and so on. You take the stem of the word and extend it with suffixes or prefixes like in Japanese. "Mal" creates the logical opposite, so "bela" is beautiful, "malbela" is ugly, "nebela" is "not beautiful" and so on :)
I know, long post, but I really really like this language ;)
I bet the future language in the universe is Marese. Everybody will be speaking like singing, writing like drawing.
Easy and happy:)
At this rate it'll be like Firefly in real life! Yay!
This is a small water-based planet, so musical notage might be the future as with some forms of Chinese, you are right, or rather like whale language in the deep bue sea - Rsj on board the USS Enterprise
I have to say that it has been amusing to watch +BBC World Service, +BBC News and the other beebs since Cameron's eurospat - suddenly Britain has discovered China. I applaud Auntie for getting on board, don't get me wrong, but none of these "discoveries" making headlines are particularly new or innovative. Australia (admittedly closer to China in many ways) has been doing this for years. NALSPP (National Asian Language Studies) is in the K-12 curriculum, there is even Mandarin for kids ( Plenty of Australian businesses are in China, and plenty learned the hard way that entering and enduring in that market is not easy, as well. It's an exciting time to be here in the UK, with those learnings, but it would be good for Brits not to try and reinvent the wheel on this one, even if that means learning from the colonials for once...
No simply because of these technological trends; Mobile & lnternational language support on them, localization effects of social networks, like twitter & google circles.
The read & writing of English seem to be much easier than Mandrarin so English should still be the language of the future. Tomas Matras, English, infact, as culture evolves, so does the language. In 1990 we never knew of a word called bootylicious but its there now. During the 50s', if I'm not mistaken gay just referred to being happy, now its meaning is more associated with those of the homosexual persuasion. "Asta la vista" is now commonly used but obviously it did not originate from English and couldnt be found in the English dictionary.'Google' is a term we never knew could be accepted let alone be coined in as the term which would mean "searching the internet". King James' version of the bible was in English but its hardly recognisable in today's day.So my point is, the language might not be as we know the English of today but still it will be called English with all the corruption that would come with it!
English will always the language of the world given that by year 2100 India will have 1.6 billion people and China approx. 950 million. One does not expect Indians to give up their affinity for one of their home grown English dialects in favour of Mandarin.
i wish esperanto was more popular.
Just wanted to say thanks to all of you (nearly all anyway) for conducting this debate in the language of the past rather than the language of the future. I'm still in denial.
+Lee Newsted typing chinese, japanese or korean on a keyboard is very simple after activating the right keyboard in the language options.
Eg. for writing 私 (Watashi = I in japanese) just switch to the japanese keyboard and write "watashi" with normal latin letters. It will be automatically converted into the right sign.
Cat Chi
chinese is a beautiful language
And why not Esperanto Esperanto (help·info) is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language.[1] Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto (Esperanto translates as 'one who hopes'), the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof published the first book detailing Esperanto, the Unua Libro, in 1887. Zamenhof's goal was to create an easy-to-learn and politically neutral language that transcends nationality and would foster peace and international understanding between people with different regional and/or national languages.
over the years... the English language seem to have dominated over other languages... simply... because now it has become the language of the world. One cannot overlook two great examples... social networking (the Internet)... and... Eco-tourism!!! But, within the confines of the ordinary homes in the mega-cities, in the barrios, or, where else in the world... People still converse in their native tongue... As do people in other places in the world...
English has been the dominant global language... Simply because British Empire was the largest empire ever existed in history.

And I never want to learn reading those cryptic Chinese logographic. I must admit that Latin alphabet is the easiest and simplest writting system in this world.
Computer = 8 characters
电脑 = 2 characters

They mean the same thing.

To English speakers, the 160 character limit on Twitter is a just that, a limit.

To Mandarin Speakers, there's a lot to spare. A typical primary school essay is 300 words (one mandarin character = one word) long. 160 is half that.
He he he Skynet, nice one. This question will take maaany years to get answered, cuz today we need english everywhere and we can use english everywhere.
thats why you had to post in English right....
There are more people today in the world who speak Mandarin Chinese than English-- in fact, Mandarin Chinese is now the most widely spoken language. It's good to learn other languages. But also excellent to be proficient in one's native tongue.
The USA is frightfully behind other nations in teaching our students other languages as well as science and maths.
If we want to remain current, we have to update our skills in the workplace. We also have to update our skills globally. Just saying.
If the prophecies of Firefly come true, then it'll be English and Mandarin that become the primary languages.
English will ever be living with additional competition among all,entire world desired to move & accept it common nature,Actually mandarin does not know much people globally except southasian countries..
Google supports Esperanto since yesterday:

" The Google Translate team was actually surprised about the high quality of machine translation for Esperanto. As we know from many experiments, more training data (which in our case means more existing translations) tends to yield better translations. For Esperanto, the number of existing translations is comparatively small. German or Spanish, for example, have more than 100 times the data; other languages on which we focus our research efforts have similar amounts of data as Esperanto but don’t achieve comparable quality yet. Esperanto was constructed such that it is easy to learn for humans, and this seems to help automatic translation as well."
I teach (for over eight years) English in China - 300 students per week and growing! Perhaps Mandarin is growing but English is still the chosen language of "education" at Universities in China. Without English students would not graduate.
I think German will be the language of the future :)
I reckon the BBC is thinking too short term. It will not be too long before languages, spoken and written, can be translated, in realtime. The smart money is on Google coming up with the Android app that does just that.
Do you think having many languages for this world is fun or lousy or troublesome to cope with?
It's got to be the English language. With simple yet effective grammar, it is fairly easy to learn, though it takes efforts to master, while Mandarin is on the contrary. Plus, the English language has been globally accepted and used for decades. It has become far beyond just a tool. It's well connected with a great deal of culture and even a way of living.
+Grey Geek It's not strictly 1.3 billion, while 普通话 is the "official" standard, you have Shanghainese, Cantonese, Fukkianese, etc... Plus you have your traditional vs simplified writing. With English, I can pretty much understand anyone in Australia, Europe, England, etc.. and there's one written standard for English. While I understand Mandarin, I can barely comprehend Shanghainese or any other of the dialects.
I think one barrier to learning English is the nonsensical spelling. A phonetic written English would greatly assist those new to the language. Of course, the problem is agreeing on proper pronunciation. We already have a whole continent ignoring basic pronunciation rules.
+Hiroyasu Tomaru Having many languages I think it's a treasure, but it would be nice to have a wildcard language to communicate among all
No one has heard of Esperanto?
A choice between Mandarin and English
is not a choice!
I hope someday aliens come here. Then we all have to learn and speak their languages.
I'd vote for a global language, neither English nor Mandarin.
I still say English will remain strong. But it will lose out in the near future to Mandarin.
devnagri [sanskrit,hindi, marathi] alphabet is best because what we write that we read  you talking according to population
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