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Will Mandarin Chinese replace English as the next world language? Show more Show less
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English became the world’s international language through British colonization in the 17th-18th centuries, the growth of science and technology through Britain’s Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, and the rise of the United States as a leader in economic, political, cultural, and scientific power in the 20th-21st centuries. Today, English (and its many varieties) has the greatest number of speakers in the world (1,268 million), followed closely by Mandarin Chinese (1,120 million). Yet, with the rise of the People’s Republic of China as a global economic superpower, many speculate that Mandarin Chinese (China’s official language) will soon replace English as the language of international affairs.

No, English will remain the world's international language Show more Show less

English is here to stay because of its widespread use in international politics, business, scientific knowledge, the Internet, and pop culture.
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English is politically neutral

The English language is not associated with a single country, while Mandarin is associated with China. Many also say the English language itself is more egalitarian and accessible than Mandarin.

The Argument

Mandarin will not become the next world language because English is politically neutral and is used at varying levels in several countries. On the other hand, Mandarin is mainly associated with China. No one wants to learn a language connected to a regime that heavily censors their media.[1] The PEW Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project surveys found that people in the Philippines, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan are more comfortable with the U.S. rather than China as a world superpower.[2] English will remain the global language because of its association with international affairs already. For example, English is the only official language of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), not Mandarin.[2] Some countries resist learning Mandarin. For example, the Vietnamese government does not want to emphasize Mandarin learning in Vietnam. Vietnam and China are in conflict over disputed South China Sea area. Young Vietnamese people would rather learn English over Mandarin.[3] English is a language associated with free speech and free expression. English’s widespread usage allows ideas to be easily spread in English as opposed to Mandarin. [2] Mandarin, on the other hand, is closely associated with China, whose tightly controlled media and heavy censorship do not have associations with free speech. English's widespread usage and association with freedom will ensure its continued use for years to come.

Counter arguments

No matter how much English is spoken across the globe and in different contexts, speaking English connects a speaker to the history of the English language—even the history of how English is a colonizing language. In many parts of the world, English "still carries the full weight of its colonialist past," as stated by freelance journalist and critic Jacob Mikanowski.[4] Colonizers established the English language as the medium of instruction and language of higher learning in countries such as the Philippines and Kenya. In these contexts, colonizers created a language hierarchy in which English was a refined, higher-order language, and local languages were lesser. Even as international affairs are conducted easier in English, the language forces people to use an English-speaking worldview, which is not necessarily apolitical.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://asiatimes.com/2019/03/will-mandarin-be-the-next-global-language/
  2. https://time.com/3585847/mandarin-lingua-franca/
  3. https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-17105569
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jul/27/english-language-global-dominance
This page was last edited on Tuesday, 25 Aug 2020 at 04:30 UTC

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