Publication |Sophia Linguistica

A Comparison of Contemporary International Languages: From the Viewpoint of the Sociology of Language


Goro Kimura Christoph, Lisa Fairbrother, Simon Tuchais , Atsushi Ichinose, Kanako Takeda


Although English has become the predominant international language in today’s world,
there are of course many other languages used as bridge languages. While a great deal of
research to date has focused on language diversity, the diversity among bridge languages
has received little attention, and there are few multifaceted comparisons of different
international languages. The aim of this paper is to compare the traits of different bridge
languages, in order to examine the diversity of international languages. Specifically, we
compare English, French, Portuguese, German and Japanese in their role as international
languages, from the viewpoint of policies of language spread, geographic distribution,
international language networks, and foreign-language learning. Our findings demonstrate
that each language has unique characteristics and accompanying strategies. Though there
is no doubt that English has unprecedented potential to connect people across the globe,
we argue that an overreliance on English runs the risk of eroding the current richness of
international communication.