English, Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese or even Hindi? Which one will be the most spoken language in 2050? According to a recent study the answer might surprise you.
Repartition in 2010
This infographics represents the situation in 2010:
Mandarin leads the race, followed closely by English and Spanish. No very surprising given the fact that China is the most populated country in the world. Spanish is the main language in South America and English is spoken all around the world.
The international bank Natixis published a study and gave its predictions regarding the repartition of the languages in 2050.
Let’s take a look at the different candidates.
Spanish is the main language of Spain. And it’s also spoken in almost every country of South America.
But the language of las tapas and la siesta won’t be número uno in 2050.
English. American. Australian. Indian. The international language. The queen of languages. The language most polyglots want to avoid when going abroad.
There’s no reason for English to lose its dominance. It should stay the international language and the most widespread in the world. But the study doesn’t give it the “Most Spoken Language of 2050” title!
It’s complicated to qualify Arabic as a unique language. There is MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) but the language has different dialects in every country. And it’s not like Spanish. The Arabic language is actually different in every country. Speakers from one country won’t necessarily understand their neighbors. So can it really count as one language?
Even though I love the way Arabic sounds, it’s a Game Over!!
Mandarin is the official language of China, the most populated country. The predictions don’t see the Chinese population increasing. So for Mandarin to become number one, the other languages’ populations would have to decrease too. Who knows, it could happen. But anyways, the study doesn’t see Mandarin as the future number one language.
This one is the outsider. But a serious outsider. India is the second-most populated country on Earth. And Hindi is the fourth-most spoken first language in the world (note: here we distinguish “spoken first language”, meaning mother tongue, and “spoken language”, which can be a mother tongue, a second language or a foreign language learned later). A serious candidate for the throne of “Most Spoken Language in 2050” then!
But no, according to the study, this won’t be the most spoken language in 2050!
And the winner is…
Yes French! Hurray for more cheese and wine!! Baguette baguette s’il vous plaît!
No but seriously how can it be? France is an aging country. And it is unlikely that its population will reach such high levels before 2050!
The answer lies elsewhere. French is also spoken in Canada, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland. But again: these populations are unlikely to reach high levels before 2050.
According to the Naxitis study, the answer comes from Africa. Several countries in the Sub-Saharan part of Africa speak French. And in these countries the populations are expected to double between 2010 and 2050! Thus a huge increase in French speakers.
Some people argue that the study is flawed. The way Naxitis counted is the following: for example with French, if French is the official language or one of the official languages of the country, then all of his inhabitants are considered to be speaking French! And that is unlikely to be true!!
Other argue that while Africa is going to grow a lot in the next years, most of his inhabitants will learn English instead of speaking French.
French used to be the language of the diplomatic and economic worlds before English. Will 2050 be the year of its revenge against its nemesis?
What do you think? Which language will be the most spoken language in the next century?