It takes a ballsy mix of arrogance and almost willful historical blindness to argue that any condition is permanent. This IHT article draws from both, drawing on arguments that the English language is so widespread and useful as a world language today that no other is likely to topple its dominance. Ever.
Riding the crest of globalization and technology, English dominates the world as no language ever has, and some linguists are now saying it may never be dethroned as the king of languages.
Others see pitfalls, but the factors they cite only underscore the grip English has on the world: cataclysms like nuclear war or climate change or the eventual perfection of a translation machine that would make a common language unnecessary.
There is concession to the fact that well, more people speak Chinese than English. And that other languages have had a pretty good run. Latin, for example. Languages of empires. But very little genuine understanding that languages are carried on political, economic and social currents, and that these inevitably change.
Maybe English will have a good run. It is astonishing today, and humbling, how widespread it is. But trying to argue that these conditions will last even for another hundred years, given the rapid change in the world’s political map, is just foolish.