Pages in topic:   [1 2 3 4] >
English on the decline...
Thread poster: Balasubramaniam L.

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 20:34
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Feb 20, 2006

What do you think of this news item?

"According to one new study, the percentage of the global population that grew up speaking English as its first language is declining. In addition, an increasing number of people now speak more than one language.
….

Today, Mandarin Chinese is well established as the world's largest language in terms of native speakers.

The next four major languages—English, Spanish, Hindi/Urdu, and Arabic—are likely to be equally ranked by 2050. …"

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/02/0226_040226_language.html


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Henk Peelen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:04
Member (2002)
German to Dutch
+ ...
More translators needed Feb 20, 2006

Balasubramaniam wrote:

What do you think of this news item?

...



The article tells about birth rates in the whole world, but doesn't make clear how much people will accept English as a personal second language, a language related to their work environment. So, I think there should be a question mark behind "English on the decline". In Europe English becomes more accepted as a personal second language. Anyway ... more translators are needed.

[Edited at 2006-02-20 10:20]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 18:04
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Predicting the future again Feb 20, 2006

Not long ago Russian was considered by many to become a major factor in global communication. Chinese is of course the most spoken native language, but it will never become a language that could take over the role of a common language on a global scale, I'm afraid.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

liora  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 18:04
English to Hebrew
+ ...
so English Translators will be paid more (~) ..... Feb 20, 2006

If English should become esoteric ...

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Stephen Rifkind  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 18:04
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Missed the point Feb 20, 2006

English has never been part of the "big two or three" of native speakers. The key number is non-native speakers. I don't think there is any argument that English with all its pecularities is much easier for an adult learner than Chinese! Combined that with the power of American culture and richness of vocabulary, English is here for the foreseeable future, for better or worse.

Please do not read in any insult to Chinese, a rich language with a rich history. However, tonal systems and pictoral systems are very difficult to learn.

Stephen Rifkind
Hebrew/Russian/French to English


Direct link Reply with quote
 

gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:04
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Italian will take over the world Feb 20, 2006

Stephen Rifkind wrote:
Please do not read in any insult to Chinese, a rich language with a rich history. However, tonal systems and pictoral systems are very difficult to learn.


Oh, well, even English has a complex tonal system (sentence stress on top of word accents) not really easy to learn for non native speakers.

As regard to the idiosyncrasies of the English spelling and pronounciation, what do you call them if not a pictorial system? Words are often recognized almost by their shape rather than associating sounds to letters..

If there is a candidate to take over the world, a truly international language, that is definitely... Italian.



Gianfranco




[Modificato alle 2006-02-20 10:32]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
gabrio
Local time: 17:04
English to Italian
+ ...
italian?? Feb 20, 2006

I am not sure about what Gianfranco said, it would be really cool if more people would learn Italian anyway.

Gabrio


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 20:34
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Has English turned the cusp? Feb 20, 2006

The point of the article is that it asks the question, has English turned the cusp?

For the past several centuries it has been on a roll and has expanded its geographical borders like no language in history has ever done. Has the pendulum now begun to swing back? Already the native speakers of English are far out numbered by those for whom it is the second language.

The spread of English was closely linked to the colonial expansion of its mother country Britian. Now that colonialism has ended, is English finding itself stranded and gasping for breath on distant shores that are insalubrious to its existence?

Also, is such immense stretching good for any language? We all marvel at the elasticity and adaptability of English, but is this very elasticity killing it? English is now spawning several mutually unintelligible variants of itself, which in course of time may either die out or develop into independent languages.

Those familiar with the linguistic history of classical languages will realize that is how new languages take birth. Take the example of Sanskrit, which at one time had a similar domineering role in the Indian Subcontinent as English has in the world arena today. It (Sanskrit) spread and spread till it had covered every nook and corner of the vast Indian subcontinent. It was the link language and the language of knowledge and religion. Then around the eleventh century AD, there started a slow change in the political equilibrium of the country with the coming of the Muslims, and with it luck tilted against this language (this situation can be likened to the withdrawal of colonialism vis-à-vis English).

And in a couple of centuries, the modern languages of India, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati, Nepali, etc. had taken birth. All of them draw heavily from Sanskrit, in terms of vocabulary, script and grammatical elements. And Sanskrit has faded away.

Of course all this happens in decades and centuries, for the life span of languages is much longer than human life spans, and none of us here may be alive to witness the decline of English, nor to take advantage of the increased translation opportunities thrown up by the decline of English

But I have a feeling, English is well and truly on its way out.



[Edited at 2006-02-20 11:35]

[Edited at 2006-02-20 11:38]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxCMJ_Trans
Local time: 17:04
French to English
+ ...
on its way out Feb 20, 2006

You may be right but for the wrong reasons - English is a language spoken well by few and badly by many. This is largely because it is used as a communications medium by many people with other mother tongues. What is more, nobody cares that standards are deteriorating.
These factors alone will see English off one day


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Fred Neild  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
+ ...
English will rule long after I am gone Feb 20, 2006

Balasubramaniam wrote:
Has the pendulum now begun to swing back?


Hi Balasubramaniam,

As you have noted Brittish imperialism has been key for the expansion of the English language, but there are many other factors. I agree with Stephen who stated that it is easy to learn. I don't know about Italian, but Spanish is quite difficult. Portuguese? Forget it. Probably the Chinese of the Western culture in terms of complexity

Another extremely important factor is the USA.

I'll give you an example to illustrate what I think. When I was 10 years old, more than 20 years ago, my father told me that his father recommended him (when he was a child) to save in USD. My father gave me the same advice and I am sure I can safely give this advice to my children.

Fred

PS And one more key factor for English predominance, CNN. There are many more.

[Edited at 2006-02-20 11:47]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 20:34
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I don't think the ease of learning has anything to do with it... Feb 20, 2006

Fred Neild wrote:

I agree with Stephen who stated that it is easy to learn. I don't know about Italian, but Spanish is quite difficult. Portuguese? Forget it. Probably the Chinese of the Western culture in terms of complexity


All languages are difficult to learn for non-native speakers, in my opinion.

The things that matter really are economic power, military power, and numbers.

As of now, English has all of above three factors in its favour. But will the situation be the same, say 50 or 100 years from now?

With China growing at the rate of 10 per cent per decade for the last four or five decades, it is set to leave behind the US economy in the next 5 or 10 years. I am sure everyone would want to rush to China to share its vast business opportunities and may have to learn Chinese.

The earlier economic centres of Europe, North America and Japan are declining or at the very best not showing the robustness of the new economies like China. Won't that force a reordering of many things in the world, including the pecking order of languages?


PS And one more key factor for English predominance, CNN. There are many more.

[Edited at 2006-02-20 11:47]


As for CNN, (and BBC and other English channels), after AajTak (and now more than a donzen Hindi news channels) started broadcasting in India, no one even talks about CNN. Also, many of the larger TV channels like National Geographic, Discovery, Cartoon Network, POGO, etc., broadcast in Hindi in India. Hollywood films are screened in India dubbed into Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and many other languages.

The "mass media propagates languages" theory died with the coming of computers and IT technology.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:04
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
I don't see a trend downwards... Feb 20, 2006

Balasubramaniam wrote:
But I have a feeling, English is well and truly on its way out.



Dear Balasubramaniam,

I'm not willing to detract from any language, including the new economies earning for their language a wider audience and importance, but leaving aside any joke (I know... Italian has got no chances to dominate the world ), I really would like to ask in what respect you think that English is showing a trend to become less important:

- In the business world?
- In the research and scientific field?
- As a common language of exchange (shops, tourism, streets, etc.)?
- In the media and global communication (Internet, news, etc.)?
- In culture, publishing and the arts?
- In international organizations, companies or groups?


Just consider each one of these fields separately, one by one, and try to identify at least one where English is showing any sign of becoming less important, either in its purest and educated form or in any pidgin-local flavoured version... Difficult? Yes, it is, if you restrict your analysis instead of enunciating vague trends.

Actually, I believe that with the increasing number and volume of global communication (multimedia, satellites, Internet, etc.) we will see an increase of its diffusion at all levels, and for the foreseable future.
Everybody, for business or travel, will need a communication tool, and that appears to be English.
Probably English probably will become, within a few decades, an almost universal second language, for good or for bad...

From our business point of view, this is something to ponder when making choices for us or for our children's education.

bye
Gianfranco




[Modificato alle 2006-02-20 14:35]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Fred Neild  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
+ ...
More on CNN Feb 20, 2006

Balasubramaniam wrote:
All languages are difficult to learn for non-native speakers, in my opinion.


No they are not.

I took German lessons for 3 months. We say life is too short to learn German. Please, this is not meant as an offense to German colleagues, rather a joke showing how difficult it is for some countries to learn German.

The ease in English language is not only due to grammar, etc. The teaching method is extremely intuitive. When I went to school I had English during the morning (with native teachers and British books) and Spanish in the afternoon so I experienced two opposite language teaching methods. And then I had to teach using English and Spanish teaching books.

Balasubramaniam wrote:
The things that matter really are economic power, military power, and numbers.


You forgot information. And I don't agree with numbers, not sure why this should be a factor. It is actually a result.

Balasubramaniam wrote:
With China growing at the rate of 10 per cent per decade for the last four or five decades, it is set to leave behind the US economy in the next 5 or 10 years.


Bold forecast! This may even help the USA, but they never tell us how.

Balasubramaniam wrote:
I am sure everyone would want to rush to China to share its vast business opportunities and may have to learn Chinese.


What makes you think this? If you had to choose today (and if you have or had children), would you make them learn English or Chinese?

Balasubramaniam wrote:
The earlier economic centres of Europe, North America and Japan are declining or at the very best not showing the robustness of the new economies like China.


Wonder which are "the new economies" and what you mean by robust?

Balasubramaniam wrote:
As for CNN, (and BBC and other English channels), after AajTak (and now more than a donzen Hindi news channels) started broadcasting in India, no one even talks about CNN. Also, many of the larger TV channels like National Geographic, Discovery, Cartoon Network, POGO, etc., broadcast in Hindi in India. Hollywood films are screened in India dubbed into Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and many other languages.

The "mass media propagates languages" theory died with the coming of computers and IT technology.


What I meant by CNN is not that we need to learn English to watch it. That would be extremely naive. I am talking about who is telling the story right now. It is CNN, Hollywood, Internet, IT. And it doesn't matter into how many languages you translate McDonalds hamburgers or Steven Spielberg or Tom Cruise, it is still American predominance. Oops, I forgot to mention they are even referred to as Americans, which is the name of the continent, nobody else accomplished that, right? There is a song in Argentina that says "...la historia es escrita por los vencedores..." (winners write history books)

Fred


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Angus Woo
Local time: 23:04
Chinese to English
+ ...
Winners also happen to have the privilege to write that in their own language. Feb 20, 2006

Fred Neild wrote:

(winners write history books)

Fred


And winners come and go.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 20:34
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not that way... Feb 20, 2006

Gianfranco Manca wrote:

I really would like to ask you in what respect you think that English is showing a trend to become less important:

- In the business world?
- In the research and scientific field?
- As a common exchange language (streets, shops, tourism, etc.)?
- In global communication, Internet, news, etc.?
- In the arts, culture, publishing?
- In any international groups, organization, company?


Just consider each one of these fields separately, and try to identify one where English is showing any sign of becoming less important, either in its pure or educated form or in any pidgin-local flavoured version.


There is no doubt that English is at its peak NOW, and the answer to all the above question is unequivocably, No, English is not showing any such trend, not now.

But, isn't it evident that English has reached its peak of expansion, and the only way it can go is down, as other languages and cultures take their rightful places, as the world order corrects itself from the distortions that eighteenth and nineteenth centuries brought to it?

I am not saying that you wake up tomorrow, and bingo, English is nowhere to be seen. These things happen gradually, over decades and centuries. But, as I said before, the trend is unmistakable.

The glass can be half full or half empty. I choose to believe it is half empty, in the matter of English.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2 3 4] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

English on the decline...

Advanced search






WordFinder
The words you want Anywhere, Anytime

WordFinder is the market's fastest and easiest way of finding the right word, term, translation or synonym in one or more dictionaries. In our assortment you can choose among more than 120 dictionaries in 15 languages from leading publishers.

More info »
SDL Trados Studio 2017 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2017 helps translators increase translation productivity whilst ensuring quality. Combining translation memory, terminology management and machine translation in one simple and easy-to-use environment.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums