Global language system
The global language system is the "ingenious pattern of connections between language groups". According to Dutch sociologist Abram de Swaan, a sociological classification of languages based on large scale social role for their speakers:
- Hypercentral language: the language which connects speakers of the supercentral languages (below). Today it is English.
- Supercentral languages: very widely spoken languages that serve as connectors between speakers of central languages; according to de Swaan, there are twelve of these: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Japanese, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swahili.
- Central languages: widely spoken languages.
- Peripheral languages: the rest – languages that not many people consider worth learning except to improve one's own communication faculties.
- The big languages: English, French.
- Regional languages (languages of the United Nations are marked with asterisk): Arabic*, Chinese*, English*, French*, German, Russian*, Spanish*.
- National languages: around 80 languages serve over 180 nation states.
- Official languages within nation states (and other "safe" languages): around 600 languages worldwide (e.g. Marathi).
- Local vernacular languages: the remainder of the world's 6,000+ languages.
There are predictions that by the middle of the 21st century this will become more diverse in the top, but less in the bottom:
- The big languages: Chinese, Hindi/Urdu, English, Spanish, Arabic.
- Regional languages (the languages of major trade blocs): Arabic, English, Chinese, Malay, Russian, Spanish.
- National languages: around 90 languages serve over 220 nation states.
- Local languages: the remainder of the world's 1000 or less languages with varying degrees of official recognition.
- World language
- List of languages by number of native speakers
- List of languages by total number of speakers
- Swaan, Abram de (2001). Words of the world : the global language system. (1. publ. ed.). Malden, Mass.: Polity Press. pp. 1–6. ISBN 9780745627472.
- Graddol, David (1997, 2000). "The Future of English? A guide to forecasting the popularity of the English language in the 21st century". The British Council. p. 13. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
- Graddol, David (1997, 2000). "The Future of English? A guide to forecasting the popularity of the English language in the 21st century". The British Council. p. 59. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
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