Science fiction often presents us with whole planets that speak a single language, but that fantasy seems more menacing here in real life on this planet we call home—that is, in a world where some worry that English might eradicate every other language. That humans can express themselves in several thousand languages is a delight in countless ways; few would welcome the loss of this variety.
But the existence of so many languages can also create problems: It isn’t an accident that the Bible’s tale of the Tower of Babel presents multilingualism as a divine curse meant to hinder our understanding. One might even ask: If all humans had always spoken a single language, would anyone wish we were instead separated now by thousands of different ones?
But the days when English shared the planet with thousands of other languages are numbered. A traveler to the future, a century from now, is likely to notice two things about the language landscape of Earth. One, there will be vastly fewer languages. Two, languages will often be less complicated than they are today—especially in how they are spoken as opposed to how they are written.
Some may protest that it is not English but Mandarin Chinese that will eventually become the world’s language, because of the size of the Chinese population and the increasing economic might of their nation. But that’s unlikely. For one, English happens to have gotten there first. It is now so deeply entrenched in print, education and media that switching to anything else would entail an enormous effort. We retain the QWERTY keyboard and AC current for similar reasons.
Even though the writer of this Wall Street Journal article places the inevitable transition to a global language structure - which the writer predicts will be English - in 2115, it is possible that he is correct about all but one thing... the timing. This reality could present itself sooner than he thinks. English is already required learning in the entire developed world and the rest of the planet is doing its level best to catch up.
And even though the article author makes references to the biblical Tower of Babel, and rightfully so, Mike Shoesmith and Brandon Gallups explain in the below videos why this WSJ article is dead on in most respects, and why it matters today!