What Will Globalization Do to Languages?

Stephen J. Dubner recently posed the question, ‘what will globalization do to languages?’ on the Freakonomics blog of the New York Times. The article contains the views of some notable folk, including Christian Rolling, Mark Liberman, Henry Hitchings, and John Hayden. Here’s what they have to say about the issue:

“The Internet has helped curtail English language domination.”

Christian Rolling, senior interpreter and next chief of the French interpretation section at the U.N. in New York.
“English is like a cell phone provider offering the best plan. But if the dollar continues to drop, the most viable option could shift.”

John Hayden, president of Versation, parent company of English, baby!, a social networking site for English language learners around the world.
“If you’re going to combine many countries with different national languages — and do it by political compromise rather than by military conquest — then you can’t impose any single national language on the result.”

Mark Liberman, professor of linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, blogs at Language Log.
“One of the intriguing consequences of globalization is that English’s center of gravity is moving.”

Henry Hitchings, author of Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary: The Extraordinary Story of the Book that Defined the World, and his most recent, The Secret Life of Words: How English Became English.

This one of the most interesting articles I’ve read on the matter in quite some time, with each of the contributors putting forward some compelling arguments.

Read the full article here.

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