Folium: New Study Reveals Most Influential Languages via IFLScience

Folium: New Study Reveals Most Influential Languages via IFLScience

Folium: New Study Reveals Most Influential Languages via IFLScience


I have always heard of influential individuals, but an influential language? I didn’t know that was a thing until I read this article. Perhaps it’s the language with the highest economic influence? English has certainly been seen as the “international language” for some time now, and many have stressed the importance of learning Mandarin as China’s economy continues to grow. The article discusses languages at a global scale, and how they have come to be influential in the world.

Cesar A. Hidalgo is a Chilean statistical physicist/writer and has done a significant amount of research on the economic influence of different languages. He says that “Languages vary enormously in global importance because of historical, demographic, political, and technological forces. However, beyond simple measures of population and economic power, there has been no rigorous quantitative way to define the global influence of languages.” The influence that languages have on the world are intriguing enough for linguists to search out reasons to write about them. This is what they have to say:

“Of the many languages that have ever been spoken, only a few of them have been able to achieve global prominence, they have been important enough to become a global language,”IFLScience

Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, but English is closer to a global network so why isn’t Chinese up there too? According to researchers it’s not necessarily about the language itself, but about how it connects to others.

Bwalya Chileya wrote an article about how language helped her make connections in her life. She says “I navigated my way through two worlds, speaking each language exclusively in different settings, but I always felt more at home with Chewa. This was likely because it was my first language but also because it connected me deeply to my family and earliest friends. The people I went home to allowed me to speak it without giving me stern looks or pinching their lips in distaste. Speaking it came without judgment.”

Overview of the Global Language Network.
You’ve gotta click the photo and play with this!

Language connects people. Whether you come from Belize or India, you still are interconnected in some way – spoken language is not the same, yet the emotions and social context are. This is how language is most influential. Using language as a tool to connect with others is the best way that many people throughout the world have made interconnecting linkages with others from country to country.

Hidalgo finishes off his research funneling it down to the centrality of a language in the global language network is a significantly strong predictor of whether that language produces a large number of successful people. I think that language is a special way that we can all interconnect. Knowing different languages may be to our advantage in making interconnecting linkages around the world!

Julie Martin
LEAF Editor & Contributor