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Miscelaneous: 2010 - English or Chinese?
Posted by kallahar on Dec.28.01 at 08:36 am PST.

kallahar writes SlashDot is running a story about what the dominant language of the internet will be in 10 years. If China comes on, will chinese dominate? I agree with this poster's response:

(click read more to see the rest)

Well duh... sorry, that sounds rather america-centric. Do you really expect everyone else to learn english so you don't have to learn anything else?

"Actually, yes I do. English speakers, whether or not that was the mother tongue of all the individuals involved, after all, developed practically all the technology involved. English is the lingua franca of international commerce. Air traffic control and hotel concierges all over the world speak English. Engineers in many disciplines use English terminology, even if the rest of their communication is in their native language, and international academic journals are published in English. Esperanto was a nice idea (I even learnt basic conversation in it once) but English, with maybe French (which I speak, altho' not fluently) or Spanish for backup, is the de facto common tongue, and will enable you to travel or to business almost anywhere in the world. Remember that English is not a static language, it freely adopts words and phrases from other languages as required. It can be both precise and expressive, as required.

Maybe (relatively) few Chinese speak English, but relatively few Chinese even speak to non-Chinese at all. That country is not a cultural and linguistic "melting pot" like the US or UK, it is remarkably homogenous for such a large country. The question really is, will the Chinese become like us, or will they choose an isolationist policy? And don't forget, Chinese characters are available on computers at all because Western corporations decided that they should be - we are being as accomodating as we possibly can! If the Chinese want their own information infrastructure, they are free to create it for themselves - or they can choose to use ours, which we are making available freely. Why is America always the bad guy in cultural discussions?

Besides, there are purely technical reasons why English is a "better" language than Chinese for computing - look at the numbers of characters in the alphabets, for example. English words are distinct, Chinese ideograms are much more dependent on context and the interpretation of the listener."

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Aug.20.01 by kallahar

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