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FRIAS Colloquium - Bernd Kortmann

Bernd Kortmann

English Linguistics
University of Freiburg

What makes for a world language?
When Jun 10, 2024
from 03:00 PM to 04:00 PM
Where FRIAS Seminar Room
Contact Name
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What makes for a world language?

In this talk I want to explore together with the FRIAS community a number of key questions I am currently thinking about in connection with editing a handbook on the spread of world languages of the present and the past. What, to start with, are criteria for defining a world language? How much safety is there, for example, in speaker numbers as one such criterion, arguably the most important one? What kinds of factors (structural-typological, sociolinguistic, political, historical, sociological, cultural, religious, economic, educational, etc.) were or have been responsible for the global spread of languages beyond their traditional mother tongue homelands? I’d also like to reserve some space for the special role of English in the 21st century, with approximately two billion speakers the most widely spoken of all world languages (ever). Which effects does this have on the English language itself? Which effects does the increasingly monolithic use of English as the language of science have on scientific inquiry, especially in the humanities and cognitive sciences? And to what extent may AI increasingly counterbalance the risks of English as the sole lingua franca in academia and lead (back) to more linguistic and intellectual diversity in science and science communication?