2024-06-20 @Languages

I’ll stake that severe portions of the world population of today and of the past have been functionally monolingual. Can’t decisively suggest the majority, but ostentatiously many. This, insofar as language sufficient for some adequately fluid communication.

Excepting are the groups in explicit need of more; usually an interlanguage. But most ordinary persons beyond the diplomats, the militants, the academics, the tourism functionaries and the aristocratic elite; outside of concentrated regions or hotspots catering to heavy internationalism, through history?

The European majority might identify bilingual to whatever often broken extent compelled to acquire a minimum interlanguage (aka English). Mutual intelligibility excluded (as otherwise the metric would know no bounds), concerning reasonable communication, it simply boils down to that mother tongue.

South America, likewise, from what I’ve seen, monolingual: English, whenever or however compelled, injuriously broken and often nonexistent. And Portanhol, that Spanish-Portuguese mediator leveraged by some? Can’t take that seriously.

Applicable to as much as South and Central America, really, save for the Mesoamerican indigenous communities.

The North American majority, the UK (save for Wales), Australia, the Anglo-South Africa: these vast British colonies are anything but compelled to wield a language but their own. Some New Zealanders also speak the Māori indigenous language, though I’m lacking data as to the extent.

Within China, from conversations, I’ve strong reason to suspect monolingualism following the above rationale: come the actual majority.

Across India with all the linguistic variety, many speak the local vernacular and Hindi, or the local and English, to some unclear degree. Many do fluently. Many speak all three or even more. But that’s precisely a case of a more compelling region I’ve alluded to. And still wondering what of the wider scope?

Most of the Russian/Soviet ordinary citizen contingency speaks/spoke just the one language. The Soviet satellites also adapted Russian beyond the local language out of compulsion. Today that has waned in place of English, and this far from conversational across the wider extent.

Japan is largely monolingual based on my experience, should the case not substantially have altered in recent years.

But the gargantuan African continent, come the majority of those 50-60 countries, leaves me unclear. Even North Africa, considering the tangibly spoken languages. To what degree do the peoples transcend monolingualism, and across what percentages?

And all those expanding empires of the past: the Romans, the Mongols, the Byzantines, the Ottomans, Arabia, in their majorities? Were they not arguably monolingual?

Questions, comments? Connect.