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囧研究:英语有一天会统治世界吗?
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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?

1500年前,英语还是一小撮日耳曼部落从欧洲内陆往英伦岛迁移时说的语言。如今,语言学家心生疑惑悄声交流,英语会不会消灭所有其它语言?

 

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.

有3.39亿人的母语为英语,而说西班牙语 (4.27亿)和普通话(8.97亿)的人更多。此外,以英语为母语的人数稳步下降。尽管情况看来英语似乎有渐弱之势,但全球范围而言,其实地位正逐步上升。

 

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.

那是因为全球5.1亿已经选了英语作为第二外语,没有哪一门语言可以与之匹敌。科学、商务还有媒体领域,英语占主导地位。要进入这个联系日益紧密的世界,学习这门语言是廉价入场券。

 

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.

研究人员复制模拟了几百种语言的没落,发觉平均每两礼拜就有一门语言消亡。如果这一趋势持续下去,接下来的两个世纪,会有2600门语言消失。

 

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.

人们很容易把大语种和机会相挂钩、把小语种和落后相联系,因而会不再对子女说小语种。

 

English has cemented itself as the defining cosmopolitan language of our time. Over time, the language grows more streamlined and simple to learn.

英语已经明确了其在我们这个时代都市语言的地位。随时间流逝,这门语言越来越精简、越来越容易学。

 

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.

毫无疑问多年来英语历经演变。只要拿约翰·亚当斯、亚伯拉罕·林肯行云流水般的散文和希拉里·克林顿还有唐纳德·特朗普简约的风格比较下即可知。

 

那么你对于英语,是爱是恨呢?

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