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November 30, 2007

English as an int'l language Edit

I think you're mistaken about the number of people who speak English. Estimates vary between about .5 and 1.8 billion speakers of English overall (including native and non-native) which is a lot more than 5% of the world population. On the other hand, something like two million people speak Esperanto. (These figures are from the wikipedia page). --Dbutler1986 20:11, 11 June 2008 (UTC)

Actually, I said 5% natively and another 5% as a second language. But you are right, my numbers are a little off. According to ethnologue, the total of native speakers is 309,352,280 and the total number including second-language speakers is 508,000,000 - of course, ethnologue's information looks like it's about 9 years old. Unfortunately, it's very hard to get a solid estimate. The 1.8 billion that is cited on wikipedia is from a pretty poor source. It's a paper that somebody wrote, and they don't say where they got the number.
Anyway, if we use the world population (and we accept Ethnologue's numbers) from that time: 5,978,000,000 we get almost 5% for native speakers, and about 8% for total combined with second language speakers.
I went ahead and grabbed the CIA World Factbook percentages for the world. They only have the percentages of native speakers, but...
Mandarin Chinese 13.22%, Spanish 4.88%, English 4.68%, Arabic 3.12%, Hindi 2.74%, Portuguese 2.69%, Bengali 2.59%, Russian 2.2%, Japanese 1.85%, Standard German 1.44%, Wu Chinese 1.17% (2005 est.)
Oh and this picture is interestng it represents 100% knowledge of English as red and 0% knowledge of English as blue. Obviously there's a bunch of purple out there, but not as much as you might expect. It's based on [ censuses compiled by the UN from 1983 to 2003]. Again, it's hard to get the solid data.
There definitely aren't very many Esperanto speakers in comparison and nobody (well, there are probably some, but crazy people are everywhere) is suggesting that Esperanto be a replacement for any other languages. It's supposed to be a bridge language that's easier for everybody to learn, so that they don't have to lose their native language. It's actually a language conservation tool.
I only point out the numbers because, well, as an Esperantist I get a little tired of getting the "English is already the international language" statements. Believe me, I love English and Shakespeare and such and I'm not slighting it -- for it is a wonderful language with so many wonderful words and variations and it's my own native language. But Esperanto is fun, interesting, useful and it gets overlooked a lot, which is a shame.
Wow, I look like I'm ranting. Sorry about that. Please don't misinterpret my enthusiasm. I get kind of chatty when I talk about this stuff. Hoogamagoo 21:39, 11 June 2008 (UTC)

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