If you can read these words, then congratulations! You can use your English skills to communicate with about 1.35 billion people around the world. English is the world’s most popular language, with more speakers than Spanish, French and even Chinese. Want more proof of English’s ubiquity? Just go online, where there are more websites in English than in any other language.
Speaking & Reading The English Language
So with more speakers than any other language and the ever-increasing pervasiveness of the internet, will we ultimately all just speak English?
No, but not for the reasons you might think. First of all, the figures above don’t tell the whole story. 1.35 billion English speakers out of the world’s population means that approximately 83% of the world does not speak English. Also, most of those English speakers have learned it as a second (or third or fourth…) language. So while a lot of people are actively making an effort to learn it – or being forced to learn it in school – there are a lot more more people being born in China, Africa, etc. who will ultimately speak a different language and may or may not ever learn English.
And while there are more websites in English than in any other language, its share of the internet is dropping rapidly, as it has been since the advent of the internet. Other languages, however, like Arabic and Urdu are rapidly gaining ground. And even if it feels like everything on the internet is in English, most studies say that it’s really only somewhere between 25% and 50%. If it feels like more, it’s probably just a result of your own internet habits, preferences and a type of confirmation bias. If you don’t understand Korean, why would you search out a unpenetrable wall of Korean characters online? And your browser and search engine are well aware of this, so they save you the embarrassment by guiding you somewhere you’re more comfortable.
Finally, this feeling that a language is about to take over has been experienced many, many times before. Greek was once deemed the only language for commerce and study. Then there was the rise of the Roman Empire, and everyone needed to learn Latin. French later took its turn following the Age of Enlightenment (ever heard the term lingua franca?). So going by history, English will definitely not be the only language and is actually projected to not even be the most popular in a few years.
What does this mean for you or your business?
It means don’t be short-sighted by assuming that having something in English is enough. You’re missing a large (and rapidly growing) audience and potential market. When you want to reach more people in a variety of languages, you should turn to a professional translation agency like APlus Translations.
Hire Professional Translation Agency
But before you pack your bags to go speak a bit of English with the Queen at the Royal Palace, you should know this – most of those English speakers don’t live in a predominantly English-speaking country. 75% of the world’s English speakers have learned it as a second (or third or fourth…) language.