Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Take a look at this article here for an example of some of some of the worst fudging of numbers I've seen since...well, since four days ago. Anyway, this one is pretty bad too. It's an article about how Spanish will be spoken by 10% of the world population by 2050. That's true, and would mean about 900 million speakers for a population of 9 billion. That compares favorably to now where the Spanish-speaking population is about 420 million for a population of 6.7 billion, or a bit over 6 percent. Nothing wrong so far.
Great. So what's wrong with the article? Well, the person quoted talking about Spanish also said that this compares well with French and German, which will represent 1.4% and 1.2% of the population, respectively.
That would work out to 126 million in 2050. French however has an estimated 220 million speakers right now, up from 200 million three years ago, and that's only including those that can read and write in addition to speaking the language. On top of this, French is expected to be spoken by about 600 million by 2050.
Perhaps he is referring to the number of completely unilingual French speakers by then, who knows. As if one had to be unilingual to be counted as a French speaker. So much for French speakers from Luxembourg, Switzerland, Belgium, Quebec, etc. And if that's the case then let's not forget that it would place English at around third or fourth place instead of first, with Chinese, Hindi and maybe Spanish ahead already. In other words, a silly standard that has absolutely nothing to do with the actual use and practicality of a language.