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Could French Make A Linguistic Comeback?

Stashed in: China!, Communication, Awesome, Africa, America!, Europe, The World, Language

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French-speaking populations are growing faster than English- and Mandarin-speaking ones.


The language beloved by Parisian poets, Russian aristocrats and pretentious grad students is set to reclaim its title when it becomes the world’s most commonly spoken language by the year 2050, according to a study by Natixis, an investment bank.

French is currently ranked sixth among world languages, after Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish, Hindi and Arabic. But it is gaining speakers quickly and, the study reports, will be spoken by 750 million in 2050, up from 220 million today.

C’est possible? English enjoys an indisputable global popularity, and Mandarin has long been touted as the language of the future, given the size of China’s population and its growing economic power, but French has a demographic ace up its sleeve: French-speaking populations are growing faster than English- and Mandarin-speaking ones.

Besides France and its best-known former colonies, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, the language of Molière and Manet is spoken in 28 other states — which happen to be some of world’s fastest-growing nations. In Africa, French is the official schooling language of countries with increasingly high fertility rates like Mali in the north, and Guinea, Chad and Democratic Republic of Congo in the sub-Saharan region.*

A demographic boom in French-speaking African states could bump the world’s percentage of French speakers from 3 percent today to 8 percent by 2050.

Meanwhile, China and many English-speaking countries are likely to experience a demographic slowdown, which could lead to an expected decline in the number of English speakers — from 8 percent to 3 percent of the world’s population. For Mandarin, a drop from 10 percent to 8 percent is anticipated.

Why would Mandarin drop?!

1 child policy... they're already in a similar demographic boat as Japan, with a rapidly aging population.

Wow. We're in the middle of a big demographic shift in the world if this article is correct.

Je ne sais pas!

Bien dit, Rich.

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