作者：Ross Pomeroy 来源：REALCLEARSCIENCE 2016-05-11 14:03
Just 1,500 years ago, English was spoken by a smattering of Germanic tribes as they migrated from mainland Europe to the island of Britain. Today, linguists whisper and wonder: will English eradicate all other languages?
English's 339 million native speakers are outnumbered by those who speak Spanish (427 million) and Mandarin Chinese (897 million). What's more, English's native speaking population has been decreasing steadily. While this situation seems to suggest that English is on the way out, globally, it's actually ascending.
That's because 510 million people from all over the world have elected to learn English as a second language. No other language comes close. In science, business, and the media, English dominates. Learning the language is a cheap price of admission to join an increasingly interconnected world.
Researchers modeled declines in hundreds of languages and found that, on average, a language is going extinct every two weeks. If this trend continues to play out over the next century, 2,600 languages will be gone.
It is easy for speakers to associate larger languages with opportunity and smaller ones with backwardness, and therefore to stop speaking smaller ones to their children.
English has cemented itself as the defining cosmopolitan language of our time. Over time, the language grows more streamlined and simple to learn.
There's no question that English has evolved considerably over the years. Just compare the flowing prose of John Adams and Abraham Lincoln to the simplified of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.