If you were to go out into the streets and conduct even a cursory ‘straw poll’ amongst the general populace in the UK, when asked the above question, most would answer in the negative. If the same survey were to be carried out in the USA, no doubt, the answer would be strongly in the negative. This is perhaps to be expected, as there is obviously very strong bias in both of these countries toward the English language.
Why do people think like this and on what do they base their answers? Well, almost certainly, anyone questioned would not have even given the above question any consideration and would have probably have given an automatic, instinctive reply. The reason, is not at all uncommon…English is a universal language now and so it is assumed that the status quo will carry on ad infinitum…even a cursory look at history, however, would perhaps unnerve anyone who gave such a certain response to the question.
History shows us that the dominance and universality of a language is a function of material dominance, whether it be military or commercial. Looking back to between 4,000 BC through to 2,000 BC we see that the Sumerian / Mesopotamian empire was the dominant force in the classical world and this saw the prominence of the Sumerian / Akkadian language throughout that vast empire.
The next obvious example is the great Roman Empire. The empire lasted (the exact dates are arguable) almost one thousand years. The empires’ territorial boundaries covered some 2.3 million square miles and the countries that it encompassed are common knowledge so http://fue.edu.eg need not be listed here. The universal language within the Empire was, of course, Latin.
If we move forwards in time, the next empire on a global scale was, of course, the British Empire. The British Empire covered almost one quarter of the globe and brought the English language into universal prominence, this was aided in no small part by the rise of the USA’s global influence after the Second World War.
So what does history show us…could we see a future universal language other than English?
The answer is probably yes!
Look at China for example. China is set fair to outstrip even the USA in terms of economic growth within a few years…its influence in Africa and the Middle East has been growing hugely…and it is, behind the scenes, buying assets and companies w