The Rise of Mandarin


Have You Heard

While English remains the lingua franca of the global business world, should you add “learn Mandarin” to your to-do list?

The world may be falling out of love with English, says BBC journalist and radio presenter Robin Lustig in a BBC report.

That, Lustig says, can be traced to the rise of China, which is threatening the dominance of the English-speaking U.S. as a world power and prompting many people throughout the world to learn Mandarin as a second language rather than English.

At the same time, Lustig notes that translation and voice-recognition technology now in development are expected to be so good that you won’t know whether you’re talking to a human or a computer. Two people who speak different languages may one day no longer need to use English as a common language to communicate: They’ll be able speak in their first language into a translation app on their phones, which will translate their words and relay them in the language of the person they are speaking to ¬¬¬¬¬—and do it in their voice.

Meanwhile, so many people speak English as a second or third language that it is creating hybrid forms which combine elements of “standard” English with vernacular languages, Lustig says. In India, which has a reported 100 million English speakers, Lustig says, you find Hinglish (Hindi-English), Benglish (Bengali-English), and Tanglish (Tamil-English).

English is currently spoken by 1.5 billion people worldwide and 400 million use it as their first language, Lustig says, citing World Economic Forum estimates. With nearly 350 million English speakers, China boasts more English speakers than any other country, according to a Cambridge University Press study.

For more on the link between English and economics, visit World Economic Forum.

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