02 Apr 2014

Is French the Language of the Future?

French could just be the language of the future – leaving the likes of English and Mandarin trailing in its wake.

Data suggests the language is growing quickly, particularly in some of fastest-growing areas of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa, where the population continues to soar.

The latest projection is that French will be spoken by 750 million people by the time the year 2050 rolls around.

A study by investment bank Natixis, reported by Forbes.com, suggests that by that time, French could be the most-spoken language in the world.

Lingua franca

French was regarded as the official language of culture for many centuries, as well as that of diplomacy and arts. If you wanted to be educated, you had to speak French.

But a lot has changed since those days. With the decline of France and the rise of the Anglosphere, English is now the global lingua franca.

This includes people who speak English as an additional language and those who speak English – in any of its social, regional and national varieties – as their main language.

French, however, still remains popular in the classroom and translation circles. It is this popularity that could see it return to its former glory.

French revolution

The Natixis study claims French could overtake English and even Mandarin in terms of worldwide speakers by 2050.

Although its methodology is questionable, since it counts as French-speakers all the inhabitants of countries where French is an official language, which probably won’t be the case, the point still stands that French is still a fast-growing, global language.

Whatever happens, English, as a second language, will remain the lingua franca. But it appears the first language spot is up for grabs.

Mandarin is also presented as a language of the future, despite it being excruciatingly hard to learn for most Westerners.

French, however, will be present on all continents by 2050, and particularly predominant in Africa, which by that time should be a fast-growing economic powerhouse. This makes it the one to watch over the coming decades.


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