Saturday, July 16, 2011
An article here from a few days ago informs us of tentative plans for Sweden to teach Chinese in all schools about a decade from now. The education minister also took a shot at French and Spanish while he was at it:
Very highly qualified activities are leaving Europe to move to China. Chinese will be much more important from an economic point of view than French or Spanish,” he said.
Is this true? Very tough to say. Each of these three languages have a wild card that will play a large part in their future influence. They are:
Chinese: China itself. Chinese is, much more than the other two, a language largely defined by a single country. If China continues its current peaceful rise, then the language will prosper as a foreign tongue.
Spanish: the US and Mexico. Spanish is well entrenched in South America and no big changes are happening to it in Europe, but in the US it is a rapidly increasing demographic and Mexico is a bit of a mess right now.
French: Africa. The French speaking population is increasing at about 7 million per year thanks to there. If economic and social development goes well there then so will the language, and if not then the increasing population will do little to increase the language's clout.
In just a decade though I don't think there will be any conclusive evidence showing one of the three to be "much more important" than the two others.