The Future of Language

Many experts also believe that we are headed toward a world in which everyone will speak the same language, especially since globalization is making communication between even the most far-flung communities possible. Perhaps everyone would learn this language in addition to their native tongues. Which begs the question, would a common world language hasten the loss of language diversity?

When we posed this to various linguistic experts, their responses ranged from "highly unlikely" to "not in a million years." That's because language is so closely tied to culture, family, and personal identity. The rise in prominence of one language over another has a lot to do with shifting political fortunes and balances of power. If one nation or region suddenly becomes dominant in world affairs, there would likely be great incentive to communicate with the people of that region. However, there is still an important difference between business and pleasure when it comes to the spoken word. For a lot of people, learning a dominant world language is important for their future, but using their native language is a connection to their past.

Some may wonder, if everyone could communicate in the same language, would that lessen the distrust and hatred between nations. That is debatable, as many brutal conflicts have been between nations or regions that share a common language, such as North and South Vietnam, Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, and various factions in Somalia [source: CLTA-GNY].

However, there are many benefits to both individuals and society when everyone can understand each other. We'll look at some on the next page.