CMV: There will be no lingua franca after English. : changemyview
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CMV: There will be no lingua franca after English.

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Posted by2 years ago
Archived

CMV: There will be no lingua franca after English.

1- The internet already consolidated English as the global lingua franca forever, even if China becomes the main superpower. Most webpages are in English, even this very post. If we use a language to communicate with aliens, it will certainly be English. Whoever replaces it, whether it's Mandarin or Esperanto, will have a hard time having this much cultural power.
2- Mandarin and Esperanto are less than ideal. As we use a lot of texting, the next lingua franca can't deviate from the standard Latin alphabet, that is basically the alphabet used in English. Esperanto can't afford not to use diacritics because its sound combination rules allow a huge variety of wild consonant combinations with which the digraphs will end up being mistaken for. Mandarin, even a pinyin-only version, will need diacritics to mark the tones.
3- A constructed lingua franca will need to check a lot of requirements, some of them are mutually exclusive, like recognizability of words and ease of pronunciation. Also, only words that are less used, like "sushi" and "zombie", are truly universal. Basic concepts like "water", "tree" or "nose" have completely different words that are unrecognizable to some foreigners, and English already does this role. Also, no auxiliary constructed language is as popular as Esperanto, because they were created much later. And people will always use, as a lingua franca, the language of the most powerful nation, currently the US and the UK before it.
4- The Mandarin language relies too much on ideograms that make the language too difficult to learn. Many Mandarin words sound identical to each other. If English spelling is difficult, Mandarin will be worse. If the English vowels and wild consonant clusters are hard, Mandarin's tones and subtle differences between consonants will make it harder to learn. You can type made-up words in the Latin alphabet, but you can't type made-up hanzi.

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ModModerator Achievement · 2y · Stickied comment · edited 2y
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level 1
· 2y

There will be a lingua franca after English simply due to linguistic evolution. Around a thousand years ago, people would have been saying "there will be no lingua franca after latin".

1. Latin had similar status at its prime as a lingua franca for Europe.

2. Esperanto has a much simpler writing system than English. It uses the 1 phoneme to 1 letter principle, which alphabets are supposed to follow. English's spelling is chaotic and influenced more by history than contemporary pronounciation. English is written like Chinese, except Chinese doesn't pretend it's a phonetic writing system.

Chinese was used as a lingua franca for much of East asia's history, so your point about writing system complexity is irrelevant.

3. The next lingua franca won't be a constructed one. As much as I love lojban, it won't become the next lingua franca despite it being culturally neutral and capable of preserving the word order of any translated text.

And people will always use, as a lingua franca, the language of the most powerful nation, currently the US and the UK before it.

"Currently" makes me question your belief that English will be the lingua franca of the world forever. Just as Latin lost that status, English will too.

4. There's a lot of r/badlinguistics here. You are treating your subjective judgement of Mandarin as some objective truth. The difficulty of a language depends 100% on the languages you already know.

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1 more reply

level 1
· 2y
2

English is a weird language with lots of odd nuance just in pronunciation alone. Take the word "strengths," which contains a very unusual sound (dental fricative), amalgamations of consonant blending the likes of which are rarely competed with in complexity in natural language, all just to express a fairly simple idea. Mandarin may have similar pronunciation woes, but another language that actually has more speakers at birth than English has much fewer of these issues. Spanish is already used as a lingua franca by many, and if cultural pressures were to shift, I could see it becoming the predominant li gua franca.

Ultimately, I think the idea that a single global lingua franca will emerge is barking up the wrong tree. A lingua franca is most often used as a bridge between individuals, not as a standard to which the entire world adheres to enable communication. As a result of this, people will choose whatever language is easiest for them to converge onto.

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level 2
Op · 2y

Also, with the advancements of translation devices, a single lingua franca may not be as necessary as nowadays. !delta
But, for some sentences, the device would need to ask for context to give the appropriate translation.

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4 more replies

level 1
· 2y
80∆

I don't entirely disagree with your main point, but I'm going to nitpick some of your supporting points that are wrong, even if it doesn't challenge your central idea.

As we use a lot of texting, the next lingua franca can't deviate from the standard Latin alphabet, that is basically the alphabet used in English

它为什么这么重要?Seriously, any modern phone or computer can easily type characters if you spend a couple minutes downloading and enabling the right software. There are tons of solutions to this problem.

You can type made-up words in the Latin alphabet, but you can't type made-up hanzi.

The fact that you can't make up new characters isn't any more of a barrier than the fact that I can't make up new letters in English. You can easily create new words- either by making combinations of existing words (like we do in English with new words like internet, cryptocurrency, or bingewatch) or you can simply make entirely new words by using characters that are obviously phonetic rather than meaningful.

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level 1
· 2y

. And people will always use, as a lingua franca, the language of the most powerful nation, currently the US and the UK before it.

Pretty much that. If say China rules all the world someday, no way they aren't gonna change things. In medieval times everything was in latin but we have moved somehow. Who knows maybe there will even be a new technology that will make the internet less relevant.

3
level 1
· 2y

What about spainish?

Spanish has more native speakers than english, uses the same alphabet with only minor exceptions of including occasional accents (which can be substituted with letter-combinations unless i'm mistaken), and has more in common with several other widespread languages like Portuguese, French, and Italian.

It is also commonly spoken as a second language in the current superpower, the USA.

The main hurdle is a spainish-speaking power arising to sufficient economic prominence as to push the shift, which, while far from guaranteed, remains very plausible considering the spread and economic resources available to spainsh-speaking countries (if they could just deal with the endemic corruption currently crippling most spainsh-speaking countries).

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level 2
Op · 2y

I don't think Spanish has a chance of becoming the next lingua franca, because its power comes from a multitude of countries. The US is a single country, and so is China.

1
level 1
· 2y

Esperanto can't afford not to use diacritics because its sound combination rules allow a huge variety of wild consonant combinations with which the digraphs will end up being mistaken for.

This is not correct. There are two main ways of replacing diacritics in Esperanto: H or X (so e.g. sh or sx instead of ŝ). The H system is potentially ambiguous but sh, ch, gh etc. are rare combinations, so in practice ambiguity is rare (you would have to do it on purpose). The X system, the most used one, is unambiguous because X is not used in Esperanto.

2
level 1
· 2y

Point 3 of yours is quite well thought out. I would still argue that a lot of core non-English vocabulary is quite recognizable though when it's used in a system that is clear enough. I'll write something quick at random to see how many of those we get in Occidental:

In li tren in quel yo sta trova se tre mult gentes: persones eant a su firma por laborar li tot die, studiantes dormaci, oldones qui have ne multcos a far ma qui possibilmen have planes por vider su amics de témpores passat.

So from many of the words there we have a regular word that is now part of a larger family of derived words: témpor (time) leads to temporal, temporari, sta (stand) to station, distant, distantie, stabil, ínstabil, amic (friend) to amical, ínamical, amicitá, etc. Some others off the top of my head are manu (hand) to manual, manuscrite, scrir (write) to the same manuscrite plus scritura, scritor and all the rest.

Now in a natural Romance language the same words exist but are hidden just well enough that 1 the connections are not obvious at first glance and 2 the derivations are not as regular, which leads to the situation you mentioned in point 3. French has words like écrire, main, se tenir, lots of common words that would simply have to be relearned for someone who speaks English as an L2.

So in short: because the less common vocab (the "academic" vocabulary) is common to a lot of languages, if you can pull it apart and make it recognizable there is quite a bit there that can quickly substitute the everyday English vocabulary that otherwise has an intertia that is really tough to fight against.

1
level 1
· 2y
  1. Not really true. There is an entirely other internet in Chinese, with major companies, apps, etc, having equivalents in Chinese. Many things, like streaming seem to be ahead in Chinese.

  2. A huge advantage of both is the ability to flexibly form new vocabulary. You need at most 3500 lexemes/characters to understand vast majority of what is being said and written. Chinese can be typed perfectly fine both on keyboard and mobile.

  3. A constructed language could be contructed to be more precise and with better word derivation than natural languages, making it better and easier to learn. Esperanto is over a century old, where little was known about how languages actually work. I don't think it's likely it would overtake another major language, but it is a possiblity.

  4. There are only about 3500 characters in common use, which isn't that bad. There are something like 1200 possible syllables, which means there may be at most three homonyms on average. Since most syllables are used in pairs or unique contexts, it's hardly a problem. Tones are common around the world, they are only particularly rare in Europe, not that hard to learn, and the pronunciation of Mandarin is in fact very simple, with only about 1200 possible syllables and no consonant clusters. Those subtle differences are not strictily necessary and not worse than English, with its some truly rare consonants and some of the most extreme vowel systems and consonant clusters. I don't see why you'd need to type made up words.

1
level 1
· 2y
25∆

The future is inherently unpredictable. From the 17th Century, until WW2, French was the language of diplomacy, and was effectively the lingua franca, and it is still the official language of some international organizations like FIFA. There was no reason to expect English to supplant it prior to the 20th century. I think at most one could say that there is no reason to forsee English loosing its status as lingua franca, or to expect another language to join it, but who knows what the future will bring.

1
level 2
Op · 2y

But there was no internet when French was the lingua franca.

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