The English language has achieved something unique in human history: it has become a truly global language. It’s spoken by nearly a billion people spread across six continents, and is as close to a worldwide lingua franca as there has ever been.
The interesting part about those 1 billion English speakers? Only a third of them are native users of the language. For the rest, English is a second language, learned because it’s so convenient. (Language popularity works on a positive feedback loop: the more speakers English has, the more useful it is. The more useful it is, the more people acquire it.)
What does this portend for the future of English? Will it fragment into local versions as Chinese is doing now, or continue expanding until it’s the only useful language on earth? The situation’s unique, so we can’t be sure. But there are a couple of theories that…
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