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Brits and Americans no longer own English

22 3 2

BERLIN - The Brexit circus and the unpopularity of U.S. President Donald Trump are causing apprehension about the future of the Anglosphere, the cultural, intellectual and political influence of the core English-speaking nations: Britain and the United States.

As a non-native English speaker who works in the Anglosphere, though, I’m not worried about that; Americans and Brits are merely facing increasing competition from within their accustomed domain rather than from without.

The English language, which has just 379 million native speakers, is spoken at a useful level by some 1.7 billion people, according to the British Council. That has long ensured that U.S. and U.K. voices are heard louder than any others.

There is no indication that the language’s popularity is declining despite the recent damage to the two countries’ soft power. Last year, the British Council forecast that the number of potential learners in Europe will decline by 8.8 percent, or some 15.3 million, between 2015 and 2025. Brexit has nothing to do with this: The expansion of English teaching at schools is expected to cut demand for the organization’s courses. Overall, the market for English in education is predicted to grow by 17 percent a year to reach $22 billion in 2024. That, in large part, is thanks to insatiable demand in Asia.

I learned it in the Soviet Union. I have to admit I did it because of British and U.S. soft power: I wanted to understand rock song lyrics, watch Hollywood movies in the original and read books that weren’t available in translation. But that wasn’t the reason high-quality........

© The Japan Times