On Oct 22, 2004, at 9:10 AM, trans. (T. Onoma) wrote:
> OT. Actually this interests me. Is it fair to say that English is the 
> defacto
> universal language now?  And, short of an apocalypse, just about 
> everyone on
> Earth will eventually know this language?

Actually, Wikipedia currently estimates English to be the 3rd most 
commonly spoken native language, after Mandarin and Hindi.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_total_speakers

Note that this number doesn't include people who speak a language as a 
second language, which would most likely give English a much higher 
ranking. Most of the Mandarin speakers live in the PRC, which is full 
of subsistence farmers who aren't involved with anything glamorous like 
international finance.

English is the defacto language at this point in history, largely 
because the world's most powerful country speaks it. Personally I like 
English because its centuries as a colonial language has made it a 
bizarre polyglot in itself: If we have to include Oxford English and 
Hinglish and Jamaican patois and ebonics and creole under the umbrella 
of English, then English itself barely looks like one single language 
anyway.

But will this last forever? Hard to say. Once upon a time, everybody 
had to learn Latin, but these days that language is pretty good and 
dead. If you don't like the weather, wait a few years.

F.