The language of the future is..... French?

With French’s status as a lingua franca in west africa and the population of west Africa expected to boom, some are predicting that french will be the most spoken language in the future. Some estimates have french reaching 750 million speakers over the next 50 years. That is crazy. The good news is: French is really a beautiful sounding language!

The question I have: Is this a unified french language or a dialect continuum of different french dialects. I know that in Nigeria for example, they technically speak english, but it is a very different dialect to the one we speak in the U.S or U.K. and it takes some time to understand. Lot’s of foreign vernacular and slang to what we are used to.

Right now, Mandarin is becoming one of the most taught languages in the U.S., but she we really be focusing on teaching our kids french?

Wouldn’t it be great if we in the states put the same importance on learning french and spanish that other countries do on learning english?

The article looks very interesting and I’m going to read it at work since my (very outdated) browser always goes haywire at the Forbes site. Just by reading the headline, I’m not super surprised: it’s spoken in a lot of places and is (relatively) easier to learn. Those two reasons alone are likely why China will never be a “true” world power.

With regard to the substance of your question (which may have just been rhetorical): No, it would not be great “if we in the states put the same importance on learning french and spanish that other countries do on learning english.” It would be a sign of waning power on the part of US influence in the world.

That being said, it WOULD be a good idea if the US educational system “taught” foreign languages better, ie they stimulated interest in them, gave students greater access to resources, and made the learning less regimented and more activity focused versus simply being test-driven.

Language learning is probably one of the few areas of education that should be lead by the student, rather than the teacher. The child should be exposed to many languages as part of being well-rounded but should focus on the language he/she wants to learn. A national emphasis should be put forth in this way, AND/OR in a way that prioritizes those languages that would be best for America.

Mandarin is the most taught language now because governments care about nothing but money and business and China has the most potential business partners in it. This just highlights how ridiculous the school system is. Like any 8 year old gives a toss about ‘future business relationships’ or any of that.

Language lessons should consist of an hour a day reading and listening to whatever language the STUDENT wants to.

Anyway i’ve digressed.

I never really understood the linguistic features of dialects and all that stuff. To me the language is the language and regional variations are just variations on standard. I’m from the UK so there is no ‘standard’ English here. The closes we have i guess is ‘standard’ southern English found in London, Surrey, Kent, Oxford, Cambridgeshire etc where it’s just a ‘southern’ accent and there’s not much deviation on words used of idioms.

But we go up north and all of a sudden it becomes interesting. I’m from Manchester, and when i lived in Newcastle i had a hard time understanding them, especially if they had a thick accent or were using a lot of local words.

This: - YouTube believe it or not, isn’t that thick of an accent. It’s very much English, but good luck understanding it as a foreigner.

In Newcastle you’ll regularly hear things like 'Eee man i cannae believe ‘ow mortal Angie got t’uvva neet on tha toon. She’s dead canny like. Giz a tab.’

Speaking of which, I really wonder about Mandarin. They say that it is the native language of 800 million people, but I have hear that dialects differ quite a lot, especially as you go west or south of beijing. Chinese is really difficult to figure out the definitions of language boundaries. Many insist that cantonese and wu aren’t actually languages but dialects of one chinese language… which to me is ludicrous… Like saying that french and portuguese are simply dialects of latin.

Lot’s of political, nationalistic bologna.

The point being, languages don’t spread over that big of area for hundreds of years without diverging quite a bit.

Will also add, that chinese is really useful in the U.S. there are chinese people everywhere here. I was in the middle of nowhere wyoming at a roadside convenient store and a family came in speaking chinese. Same in colorado, and especially where I live just outside of NYC.

Not sure i would classify that as ‘useful’. People in English speaking countries should speak English. The same goes for English people in non-English speaking countries. It really frustrates me when i’m in France to hear ignorant English expats expecting every French person to understand them with zero effort to speak French from the English.

It’s true the population in Africa in general is growing at the fastest rate in the world right now. Does it mean the importance of French will grow as well. I am not sure.

I would expect the regional language to be more and more important in these countries rather at the expense of French as it is not actually the native language of the peoples of West Africa. Is French spoken at home? Do mothers talk to their children in French in West African countries? I guess not.

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i;m always amazed by these articles about the so called" language of the future" like if anybody can predict the future .it’sa matter of personal opinion rather than fact who is to say that french is going to be always spoken in africa as afirst language …Rwanda replaced french with english years ago in some countries in africa they are movements trying to promote their native languages over french especially the muslim ones you never know.

Ive seen the same studies and projections for Arabic or Chinese.

The language of the mid-term future is → an ear piece with google or skype translator software.

In the near term → you will have; English, Mandarin, Spanish, French and Arabic dominating regions + modern geo-political holdouts like Japanese, German, and Russian + large local languages like Hindi, Indo/Malay.

In just two generations time 80-90+% of the world will be fluent in 10 languages, and everything will be real-time live google translate between these.

In the long term → eventually, just one or two languages will win out.

See here for a preview of the future → Skype Live Translator Preview - Language Forum @ LingQ

Those 2 predictions seem to me to contradict each other: a reliable real-time automatic translation system will encourage people to keep their mother tongues.
Predicting the future’s tricky to say the least. I would put my money on people relying on automatic translation. Quite a few languages will “survive” and flourish, maybe fewer that in the present moment but definitely many more than 10.Only a minority will bother to learn a different language and they’ll do so mostly out of interest for other cultures, just as it has always been the case.

I think you’re projecting the current tendency (to fewer languages, relying on “lingua francas”) while at the same time predicting the advent of a huge tendency breaker (reliable automatic translation).

Both trends are already happening. So it is more a matter of how they will interact.

Maybe the world settles on a dozen or so languages and uses translating technology.

But I think it is more likely a few languages will keep rising and dominating, precisely because they are aided by translating software.

Already English-Spanish is pretty much a “solved” issue for translating software. So it makes sense that resources will keep following the strongest “solved” language pairs.

For example, out of the 10 big languages of the future listed above - it is far more likely that the English-Spanish pair will win out over, say, the German-Malay pair.

Most likely, the “big 10” will become an inevitable 3 or 4 (English, Spanish, Mandarin and another).

Singapore is a good pointer to a possible future, imo.

A large diversity of cultures and languages, with high technology. But basically in a generation or so, it will be two languages - English and Mandarin - neither of which were really strong in Singapore even a generation ago.

Another possibility is a Blade Runner type street language → Blade Runner Bar Scene - YouTube

Again, this is similar to Singapore’s Singlish and Singdarin evolutions.