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My position is clear: Language is highly important as the glue of society. Languages are the curse of world society, since they create barriers. There are two trends. On the one hand, for political and parochial reasons, there are claques pushing languages like Welsh, or, in the case of Spain, all kinds of regional or local "languages". This creates chaos of all kinds and distracts money and time from the development of skills necessary in a modern society.
The opposite tendency is the growth of English as a lingua franca, and the slow but inevitable disappearance of dialects posing as languages. In the case of the Iberian peninsula, Spanish is the lingua franca. Portuguese Prime Minister António Guterres speaks excellent Spanish. In Latin America Brazil has a law requiring its diplomats to speak Portuguese in international meetings, but it is increasingly disregarded, and Brazil now has a law making the teaching of Spanish obligatory.
Long- term forecasts are difficult, but in his new book A History of Language, Roger Fischer predicts he rapid disappearance of languages: only English, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish will survive as major languages, with all others relegated to a local level. The Brazilian proverb claims that God is a Brazilian, which this would disprove. The French would all become atheists.
Ronald Hilton - 2/16/00