Popular Languages


A couple days ago I visited Derzhavin’s estate museum. The museum staff are sweethearts, showing and telling very interesting things. For example, they say that Mr. Derzhavin and his friends planned and carried out reforms of the Russian language in the 1810s. He had his own school, Karamzin, his opponent, had his own. Reforms were needed so that readers of Russian literature would have a correct view of the world from the point of view of the state. To perform a successful reform, it was necessary to understand what qualities a language must have in order for it to become popular.

Word by word, the guide brought us to a clear idea. Languages ​​that lead the scientific and technological progress of mankind become popular.

This explains the historical popularity of Latin, Arabic, German, English, Chinese and so on. It doesn’t matter if the language is difficult to learn. It doesn’t matter what his means of expression and best works of art are. Only contribution to scientific and technological progress is important. If Russia had been the first to come up with and properly implement an iPhone called айЛапоть, everyone around the world would walk around with айЛапоть and know the Cyrillic alphabet.

You can look at programming languages ​​from this point of view. For example, take this ranking (or alternative ranking). It says that progress in IT is driven by Python, Java and JavaScript. Yes, some may not like them, but not practicing them is like not practicing English, Chinese and Spanish. If you write in an incomprehensible language, you will find your work of genius in the dustbin of history.

I wonder what the threshold for a language’s significant contribution to global progress is? 15%? I would like to understand which languages ​​you don’t need to waste time on. What is the delay between the transformation of a language into the top 1 language of progress and the beginning of its mass teaching in schools? What is the ROI of imposing language on children from school? How correct is it to compare natural and artificial languages ​​in terms of their impact on progress? Where can I find answers to these questions?



Understanding the history of the evolution of languages ​​is interesting and useful. You can adjust both your life and professional strategy.

It makes sense for a beginner to study a language that objectively moves humanity forward, and not someone else’s taste.