It has been decided. Unless some other country takes the technological lead in the next ten years in a major way, English will not only remain the de facto global language but will also greatly expand its reach. We can debate the finer points about lost nuances, great cultures of the past and all that will be lost if you want. But the issue is all but closed.
There are two major factors making this a certainty: culture and artificial intelligence.
The effects of global (internet) culture have been well documented even before the web. Young people all over the world learn English via YouTube videos or apps on their phones. A teacher, as in a physical person helping you learn English, is optional. The kids learn the words, learn what is cool and how the concepts are connected much like Google learns how to spell; through trial and error and connecting the dots. Local television is dying as the new generation downloads series (in English, they bother less now even with subtitles) or watches videos online. In English.
However artificial intelligence is what will kill off the remaining pockets of local languages. I talk to Google Now all the time. In English. Sure, it supports other languages, but it doesn’t figure out all the cool things that make the difference in other languages. The semantic special juice only works in Californese, you have to be near enough the Silicon Valley minds that thought it all up for it to work well. Same goes for in-car navigation systems or any other tech helper. It isn’t just about voice recognition. Companies like Google are taking artificial intelligence and putting it in our phones, on our browsers. All the connections between our search history, our requests, our locations and everything else they take into account…yep…it’s all figured out in English terms. The frames of reference, the logical constructs, all in English.
Being Greek this is quite a pill to swallow. Most of my compatriots still think that Ancient Greece is the foundation of Western though, the cradle of civilization and all that. It was. For a while. But now it is English, or more accurately, American English which is carrying the planet to the next major step of discoveries. This isn’t about science fiction. This is day to day life. From social media to ordering pizza, most of our life is going to be in English no matter where on the planet we live. And because all these developments are patented, it is near impossible for any other language to catch up with the Googles and Facebooks with all their big data and big patent portfolios for the AI they have seen working.
Get used to it, stop kicking and shouting in protest and enjoy the benefits.