It’s something most of us probably take for granted, but when you think about it, the very fact that we use a combination of spoken words to communicate is truly quite remarkable, isn’t it?
It hasn’t always been this way, though. In fact, language (as we currently understand it) is quite a recent development, relatively speaking. For most of human history, we didn’t communicate with words at all.
At some point in the ancient past, our ancestors decided that angrily grunting at each other was not very conducive to tribal development, so they set about creating more efficient means of disclosing important details.
And who can blame them? Trying to relay information without the benefit of language must have been excruciating.
Take the following sentence, for example, and imagine trying to communicate it without a library of words ready to trip off your tongue.
“Hey guys, guess what? I just saw that huge deer over in the forest, you know, the one that got away last Thursday? Right, listen up: Zogg, you quietly approach from the left flank. Ugg, you proceed with equal stealth from the right. Grogg, you stay here and sharpen the boning flint because tonight, we dine like kings.”
It would be something of a challenge, to say the least.
Very patiently and over a few hundred thousand years, humans developed language so that at some point in the distant future, their descendants could eventually order an iced caramel macchiato with two pumps of vanilla and the wi-fi password.
Evolution of Language
And so, language evolved and continues to do so to this very day. Words and phrases that may have been used a couple of hundred years ago would be unimaginable in the modern age. No one says ‘coddiwomple’ anymore (but what a beautiful word that is), and, regrettably, no longer is the word “twattle” deployed. Instead, we say “gossip.”
The fact is, language has never been a fixed constant, evolving to meet the demands of a changing world. But now, there is a new type of evolution in language.
In today’s digitally global village, language connects all four corners of the world in an instant, enabling global business and trade. The English language has become the default for the general business world, while others are beginning to increase in popularity, such as German and Mandarin.
And more than ever, more people are speaking multiple languages.
Rapid Language Changes
Spoken languages are evolving rapidly due to various factors, such as global business and social media. New words seem to emerge, transform, and fade away in a matter of years.
While English remains the most spoken language, other languages, like Mandarin (the second most popular language by native speakers), are spreading because of the vast Chinese population and their influence on the global economy.
You then have the Spanish language, with vast numbers of Spanish speakers and an official language in thirty-eight countries.
In the European Union, a broad range of languages are becoming more globally adopted, including the prominent German language and romance languages like Spanish and French. These languages not only represent Europe’s rich history but also hint at the changing languages of the future.
With international business expanding, choosing to learn Spanish, German, Arabic, or any second language at all has become a shrewd and justified measure. The world today is more interconnected, with the future likely to evolve through the amalgamation of various languages.
Increasingly Popular Languages of the Future
In this changing global village of today, with the language quickly evolving and morphing, embracing the languages of the future will almost certainly be helpful for your international business aspirations or career trajectory.
Whether you’re gearing up for the business world or scouting new markets for growth, tapping into popular languages can pave the way to success. Your choice of language, be it Spanish language, Mandarin Chinese, or German language, could make a real difference to your future goals.
Grasping different languages, to some degree, will help you in that regard.
So, let’s take a look at the main languages expected to play a far more prevalent role in our future. You can not realistically expect to learn each language in full, of course, but acquiring some knowledge of each will certainly be beneficial.
As China’s economy skyrockets, so does its language. Chinese is the world’s most spoken language by individual speakers owing to its huge population – the global footprint of Chinese actually covers an astonishing 1.3 billion speakers in total.
Mandarin Chinese is the native tongue of 13 countries, with just over one billion speakers, representing around 70% of all Chinese language users.
Portuguese may not be making obvious waves in the world of business language just yet, but its inclusion in this list holds some merit owing to the powerhouse of South America, Brazil.
With Portuguese as its official language, Brazil is charting an impressive trajectory of growth and is expected to become more widely spoken. Presently, Portuguese ranks as the world’s seventh most-spoken language, with an impressive 240 million speakers.
It is no secret that Spanish has long been a force to be reckoned with. Currently the second most spoken language by native speakers, there are currently a staggering 460 million people who speak Spanish. While it’s widely spoken across Spain and much of Latin America, it’s the latter region that’s particularly contributing to its ascent as the continent begins to emerge as a potential powerhouse in world business.
Hindi holds the title of being the third most spoken language in the world. India, a fast-emerging economic giant, is not just the second most populous country but also offers a vast market for businesses and industries. With half a billion native speakers, gaining proficiency in Hindi will provide a distinct advantage to both professionals and entrepreneurs, given the prominence of India in the international economy.
Japanese, an important language in Asian business markets, is the ninth most spoken language globally. While the number of native speakers might not rival some of the other languages on this list, Japan’s economic influence is strong and growing. Mastering the Japanese language not only opens doors to the Japanese market but also offers a deeper understanding of its rich culture and history.
A language born out of rich history and culture, Arabic is the fourth most spoken language worldwide. With its roots spanning multiple countries in the Middle East and parts of Africa, Arabic is the official language of many nations that play key roles in the global political and economic arenas.
Its relevance extends way beyond its 100 million native speakers as the world of business increasingly gravitates toward Middle Eastern markets. Arabic will almost certainly form part of a future language.
We turn to the heart of Eastern Europe now, with Russian being the eighth most spoken language in the world. With its vast territories and natural resources, it has always been a formidable player on the global stage.
Russian language proficiency will ensure a competitive edge for those interested in forging ties or understanding the complex geopolitics and business landscape of not only Russia but several neighboring countries where Russian is still widely understood.
The romance language of French is a real force in global communications. Not only are there millions of native French speakers across the globe, but it also enjoys the status of being an official language in numerous African countries and international organizations. This widespread influence ensures that French will remain one of the important languages for the foreseeable future.
Last but by no means least, English has a vast number of native English speakers alongside huge numbers of second-language speakers, with global influence in business, entertainment, science, and more.
While it might seem ubiquitous today, the role of English will grow as digital communication becomes even more prevalent and will probably continue as the most widely spoken language, even with the rise of other languages.
Other languages show equal potential for becoming part of an established language of the future, such as Indonesian, for example, which is predicted to become the fastest-growing language by 2050.
Those of you who learn German to some degree will benefit, as will those who improve their romance languages, as a notable increase in Spanish speakers is expected over the next decade.
No matter which languages become predominant in the future, rest assured that Lighthouse Translations will be by your side. From document translations for international corporations to conference interpretations, our services are tailored to meet diverse needs, whatever your language.