“There will only be three languages in the world – English, Spanish and Mandarin” —Bill Walker, BBC

Created by gwern on 2012-01-24; known on 2112-01-01

  • gwern estimated 30% on 2012-01-24
  • gwern said “http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16536598 disagree strongly on any operationalization like, say, >90% native speaker share for those 3 languages – strong pressures to keep local languages. people are being born now who will form 2112on 2012-01-24
  • JoshuaZ estimated 5% and said “Almost equivalent to a large scale catastrophe destroying most humans. on 2012-01-24
  • Anubhav estimated 0% and said “And that catastrophe preserves EXACTLY these three languages, Joshua?on 2012-01-24
  • Anubhav said “I’d place a higher probability if it said “only three LITERARY languages”… Local-language literature in India’s dying; it’s probably the same elsewhere. But there’s still Japanese + W European languageson 2012-01-24
  • JoshuaZ estimated 0% and said “Anubhav, good point. Updating accordingly. on 2012-01-24
  • HonoreDB estimated 0% on 2012-01-24
  • Leo estimated 2% and said “Spanish not so likely candidate. Arabic, Japanese look healthy.on 2012-01-26
  • faws estimated 0% and said “Even if children stopped learning any other languages tomorrow there’d still be centenarians. Basically requires extinction of humans except for a handful of survivors, e. g. a Chinese-US space crew that happens to include a Spanish speakers. on 2012-01-26
  • endoself estimated 1% on 2012-01-27
  • bobpage estimated 0% on 2012-01-28
  • muflax estimated 0% and said “for some standard definition of “language” that puts British and American English in the same, but Portugese and Spanish in different languageson 2012-01-28
  • Jayson Virissimo estimated 0% and said “I’d assign a probability of about 95% to people speaking Japanese in Japan 100 years from now.on 2012-01-29
  • Jach estimated 1% on 2012-01-29
  • NathanMcKnight estimated 0% and said “Only because I disagree with gwern’s operationalization. A better interpretation is “99% of all other languages moribund,” in which case I’d put the chance near 100%. on 2012-01-30
  • NathanMcKnight said “Note: According to ethnologue.org, there are 6-7000 languages. Perhaps 95% of these will be extinct in a century. Every single language you’ve heard of is likely to be in the remaining 5%, of living minority languages in 100 years.on 2012-01-30
  • Anubhav said “Wikipedia’s estimates are different: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endangered_languageon 2012-01-31
  • NathanMcKnight said “Wikipedia uses Krauss’s figure of 60-80% currently endangered (i.e. children won’t speak them in 100 years). Which is to say 60-80% moribund by 2112. My interpretation of the BBC prediction is that the Krauss high end is low by 19%.on 2012-01-31
  • NathanMcKnight said “Apologies if I’ve used the term “extinct” too loosely, but I do think we should interpret the BBC prediction pretty broadly…most people would consider a language with fewer than 1000 speakers as “nonexistent”.on 2012-01-31
  • Anubhav said “Still not going to happen. Also… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_number_of_speakers I now know where the ‘Spanish’ comes from.on 2012-01-31
  • Jayson Virissimo said “What events would lead to Japan no longer speaking Japanese and Brazil no longer speaking Portuguese? Giving this greater than 50% probability seems really silly unless they mean something different by “only” than I do.on 2012-01-31
  • Anubhav said “Jayson, what you’re looking for is human brain augmentation to the extent that languages become pointless. But that would affect ALL languages; no way to selectively avoid these three. on 2012-02-01
  • Anubhav said “And there’s no good reason not to put that into a prediction: http://predictionbook.com/predictions/5604on 2012-02-01
  • Laurent Bossavit estimated 1% on 2012-02-01
  • RandomThinker estimated 1% on 2012-03-06
  • army1987 estimated 5% and said “Possible if by “language” you mean ‘a dialect with an army and a navy’, but I’m taking this to mean there will be no people speaking anything else on a daily basis (where “else” = ‘not mutually intelligible’).on 2012-03-10
  • army1987 said “(and “no people” = ‘no sizeable number of people’)on 2012-03-10
  • Anubhav said “And 2 is greater than 3, for sufficiently large values of 2.on 2012-03-12
  • Emanuel Rylke estimated 1% on 2012-04-29
  • Elithrion estimated 0% and said “Improved automated translation is actually likely to slow decline of small languages, I’d imagine. (Would still be ~0% regardless, though.)on 2013-02-01
  • Grognor estimated 1% on 2013-02-12
  • seifip estimated 1% on 2013-04-14
  • Tuxedage estimated 5% on 2013-04-14
  • tylercurtis estimated 1% on 2013-10-28
  • ChristianKl estimated 0% on 2013-10-29
  • hampuslj estimated 10% on 2015-03-02
  • hampuslj estimated 5% on 2015-03-02
  • Unknowns estimated 0% on 2015-04-27
  • luxpir estimated 3% and said “>90% native? Perhaps >90% second language, that would be closer to 30% for me.on 2015-09-29
  • Raahul_Kumar estimated 0% and said “Putonghua, Hindi, Bengali, Arabic, and various other languages have hundreds of millions of native speakers. There will be at least 7 languages, not 3.on 2015-12-30
  • themusicgod1 estimated 5% on 2016-07-10
  • themusicgod1 estimated 5% on 2016-07-10
  • pranomostro estimated 10% on 2018-11-25
  • Baeboo estimated 1% on 2018-11-26
  • pranomostro estimated 2% on 2018-12-15

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