The Instigator
MichaelT
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
bluesteel
Con (against)
Winning
14 Points

English will become the world language by 2100

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
bluesteel
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/22/2010 Category: Education
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,485 times Debate No: 13450
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (0)
Votes (2)

 

MichaelT

Pro

I think this could be interesting, see what comes about. Hopefully my opponent will have some fun with me on this topic which I don't think could be very vicious.

I wanted to start this debate with my own anecdotal evidence. I recently went on a trip through Europe, which included a stop in Germany where I am conversant in German. There I found that many of the people I tried to speak German to, went right away to English.

First, I want to acknowledge that I do not believe that all languages will be gone by 2100, but that English will be spoken by the majority of the world. (50%)

Right now, there are according to http://www2.ignatius.edu... there are around 330 million native English speakers, making it the number 3 language in the world, behind Mandarin Chinese and either Spanish or Hindi, depending on whose numbers you believe.

However, the crux of my argument is also from http://www2.ignatius.edu... where English is spoken in 115 countries, with French ranked 2nd with only 35.

That same source also lists English as the most influential language.

I believe this can be extrapolated over the next 90 years with the further shrinking he world due to advances in communications, and the growth of the internet, English will become the world language by 2100.

Just one definition then. "World Language" I would like to define as a language that is either a primary or secondary language of half of the world population

I welcome all challengers. We'll see where this goes.
bluesteel

Con

I thank my opponent for crafting the topic – Resolved: 50% or more of the world population will speak English as their primary or secondary language by 2100.

As the instigator and affirmative, my opponent has the burden of explaining why we will see a dramatic growth in the rate of English language learning worldwide.

Where do we stand now?

According to the New York Times, currently 400 million people worldwide speak English as their primary language and about 400 million more people speak English as their secondary language. [1]

The World Population Clock says there are currently 6.88 billion people in the world. [2] So today, 11.6% of the world population speaks English as a primary or secondary language. My opponent thus needs to prove that the number of English speakers will rise by 38.4 percentage points, which is an increase of 430% in the number of English speakers. So the number of English speakers in the world would need to roughly quadruple, as a percentage of world population.

Most population growth is in non-English speaking countries

The world population is expected to grow by 2.53 billion people in the next 40 years. [3] Nearly all this growth will be from developing (and thus non-English speaking) nations. The U.N. writes that "by contrast, the overall population of the more developed countries is likely to show little change over the next 41 years, remaining at about 1.2 billion. Fertility is below replacement level (2.1 children per woman) in all 45 developed countries."[4] So nearly all world population growth is occurring in countries with few primary or secondary English speakers, which is why, according to a study published in the journal Science, "The share of the world's population that speaks English as a native language is falling." [5] In fact, MSNBC writes that there is an increase in bilingualism in English speaking countries to adapt to expected increases in the share of Spanish and Chinese speakers in the world. [6] The English speaking world will be expected to adapt to the growing non-English speaking world by 2100, not the other way around.

Incentives must change in order to change behavior

Kevin Lang of the University of Chicago does a study called "The Return to Knowledge of English in Non-English Speaking Countries" and finds that the economic gains from learning English are consistent with historical levels. So if learning English has not become more economically lucrative, why will a larger percentage of people suddenly decide to study it? People always respond to incentives. If incentives don't change, the number of English speakers worldwide will stay stuck at 11% of world population.

I reserve my refutations due to character constraints.

==CITATIONS==
[1] http://www.nytimes.com...
[2] http://www.census.gov...
[3] http://www.unfpa.org...
[4] Ibid
[5] http://www.msnbc.msn.com...
Debate Round No. 1
MichaelT

Pro

MichaelT forfeited this round.
bluesteel

Con

It's too bad my opponent forfeited his round – I had lots of good refutations. Perhaps he didn't realize that so few people currently speak English (11.6% of the world).

In case he wants to continue debating in round 3, I'll continue.

My opponent provides an anecdotal example of "everyone" speaking English when he traveled to Germany. This is a logical fallacy called "proof by example" or "generalizing from too small a sample size." The places he traveled in Germany were more likely to be big cities, where more German people speak English. However, in the country overall, only 56% of people speak English as a primary or secondary language. [1]

In addition, you cannot generalize the experience in Germany to the rest of the world. Germany is an advanced, industrialized economy that has strong relations to English speaking countries, particularly the United States, because of its post-World War II legacy. Most population growth will come from Third World/developing countries by 2100. Consider that in China, with the world's largest population, only 0.77% of the population can speak English. China's numbers are going to be more predictive of the world by 2100 than Germany's.

My opponent next says that English is the third most prevalent language. This just proves my point – English speakers are more likely to have to learn Chinese, Hindi, or Spanish if they want to compete in the new emerging economies (namely China, India, and Brazil) since these languages are more prevalent. Only American arrogance can lead us to believe that the much larger non-English speaking world will adapt to us, not the other way around.

My opponent says English is spoken in 115 countries. However, it only takes one English speaker in a country to be listed as a country where "English is spoken." This tells us nothing of its prevalence in those 115 countries.

My opponent last says English will grow because of the expansion of communications technology and the internet. However, the vast majority of recent growth in both technologies is happening in languages other than English. Pew Research says, "the nations where internet growth will see the most progress in the next few years are situated primarily in Asia; the expectation is that China will have the world's largest internet population within the next five years." [3] This rapid growth of internet websites in Chinese leads communication technologies researcher Mark Poster to conclude: "Chinese might be emerging as the new lingua franca [world language]." [4]

[1] 2006 Eurobarometer survey
[2] Jian Yang (April 2006). "Learners and users of English in China". English Today
[3] http://www.pewinternet.org...
[4] Ibid
Debate Round No. 2
MichaelT

Pro

MichaelT forfeited this round.
bluesteel

Con

Extend my case - vote con
Debate Round No. 3
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2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by bluesteel 6 years ago
bluesteel
MichaelTbluesteelTied
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Vote Placed by Maikuru 6 years ago
Maikuru
MichaelTbluesteelTied
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Total points awarded:07