Is International English Still Our Lingua Franca?

Worldwide Translation Services’ Future Linguistic Bets

International englishBetting on international English to see your software or technology company through a business boom, or a turbulent storm? Read on to see the forecast for English as the world’s lingua franca, and how worldwide translation services view the coming decades as far as the linguistic makeup of the planet is concerned.

The Linguistic Politics of International English

If you have the budget to translate or localize for every important language on the planet, your company is truly at the top of its game. If not, you’ll need to narrow focus some. International English is still the world’s lingua franca, and a great way to get a company’s message across to diverse global regions. But that doesn’t mean it’s always the most trusted language at the local level.

In India, for example, English is used widely. Even so, according to Quartz India and the management consulting firm KPMG India, 70% of the Indian population (rural and urban) believe localized language information on the web is more trustworthy than English content. This kind of data is a good reason to listen to your translation provider when they tout the importance of localization.

And when your translation provider tells you French, especially in Africa, is an up-and-coming contender for the next lingua franca (as it was in the past), pay attention. Thanks in large part to a population boom in Africa, many world translation services are looking at an increased need for French translations down the road.

In light of Brexit, a debate has been simmering in Europe about English’s future as a core European language. According to the academic website The Conversation, “The UK’s withdrawal from the EU means that there will only be a small minority of native English speakers [left in the EU].” And while German (with over 100 million native speakers) has been gaining international clout, and is one of the most popular languages studied as a second tongue, it’s not likely to overtake English (or even French) any time soon — although the demand for German translation services will likely still continue to rise.

What About Mandarin Chinese?

Mandarin Chinese is definitely a lingua franca inside China itself. China has more than fifty minority groups, tons of different languages, and plenty of different dialects of Chinese. Mandarin bridges these linguist gaps. The number of people learning Mandarin Chinese overseas, along with the demand for Chinese to English translation services, is skyrocketing as well. Still, there are some pretty big barriers for Mandarin to become a truly global language. These include the writing system (pictographs, even simplified, are difficult to master), and how China — and hence Chinese — is perceived politically in the world.

International English Future Prospects

Of course, politics and attitudes toward languages change over time. (Who speaks Latin or Sanskrit on a daily basis anymore?) This is why world translation services, Chinese to English translation services, German translation services, and all kinds of other translation providers are keeping an eye on how international English is being used around the globe.

The evidence suggests the power of international English will be with us for many years to come. Even so, you shouldn’t ignore the power of translation or localization either. It’s always a good idea to communicate with people in the language they trust most, which is something a qualified translation provider can help you sort out.


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