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English – lingua franca forever?

Check out this new book by Nicholas Ostler, who thinks that English may not prevail forever as the lingua franca. Despite the current dominance of the English language, particularly in areas such as the Internet and business, improved global communication systems are allowing other languages to flourish. In addition, although the West has been the most powerful region on the planet for some time, there is evidence that China, Indonesia and especially India are dramatically increasing their economic power. Whichever nation or region rules the roost in the future will have the power to dictate which languages are spoken within its realm of influence. No need for you to lose heart in your own studies, though. Evidence shows that these Asian and Middle Eastern countries are still investing heavily in English language learning – and I caught linguist David Graddol discussing the topic on the BBC recently: ‘Perhaps English only has another thousand years or so,’ he quipped.

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Beth Penfold

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