One of the many interesting China-related articles in the latest issue of Newsweek talked about the possibility that Mandarin will take over English. The analysis was prompted by the current positioning of China in becoming the world’s economic leader in the next few decades. In a separate article, The China Threat, Goldman Sachs made a strong calculation that it will happen by 2027. However, it has been opined by the author, John McWhorter, that English would be here to stay.
If we must recall, Latin being the language of the church and science dominated for a number of centuries. However, English phase by phase took over in response to a definite need. What dictates a linguistic power? In the UAE, it helps when an expatriate speaks (and reads) Arabic. However, it is not an ultimate necessity in surviving the business. But in our day to day interaction, work and off-work, we had to adopt some purely Arabic terminologies side by side the use of English in order to express ideas which are new and/or because of its association to a concept. For instance, to more effectively promote the concept of sustainability, the government and expatriates working on it had to adopt the flagship of Estidama as the official word (an Arabic word which means sustainability). The acceptance of something, at times, would involve acceptance of the word.
At the end of the day, economic power does not equate to linguistic power. However, culture and change are interlinked.
On a lighter note, I think that most of us would want to be multi-lingual. If anyone would have the means and interest, why not include Mandarin, eh? (Regardless of the probability of this being the most powerful language in the future.) Right now, I am more interested in learning Korean and French (attribute that to the movies I consume), and okay, Arabic, too.
While I have Philippine jeepneys (souvenir type; thanks to those who sent it to me as Christmas gifts!) in my living room, a portion of it has been “invaded” by China already. You remember this snapshot which I previously shared through this blog post? I had it framed within 30″ x 40″ and is now hanging on the wall.
A visitor to my house can effortlessly point that an Asian dwells in it. There’s a fusion of Filipino, Korean, Chinese, Japanese and other Asian pieces. And well, there is a resident Choc Nut and occasional smell of our very own adobo.