One of the most respected universities in Italy, the Politecnico de Milano, will soon offer its classes only in English. In a previous Language Matters post, we talked about English being the global language of business.
And now we see, for the first time, there is a language that has more people learning it than it has native speakers. That language is, again, English.
The Chinese language has the largest number of native speakers, with Spanish in second place. Why has English been given the privileged position of becoming the world’s first international language?
It’s all because of the British Empire, which at one point in history ruled over a full one-quarter of the world’s people. That influence spread English across the globe.
The red areas show regions that were once part of the British Empire.
Today, there is a major power on every continent (except South America) that uses English: the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa, India, and of course, all of Australia speak English.
Do you think that the world’s adoption of English as the international language puts other native languages at risk? Or do you think that people will always speak the tongue of their home land or culture, and learn English as well? Should a different language be given this top position?