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English is the Language of the Internet

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, August 20 2010

New Hampshire Republican Bill Binnie, running in the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Judd Gregg, floats what is to my ears a new twist in the English-only debate: English's role as the lingua franca of the Internet.

"For kids to prosper and succeed," says Binnie in a video ad, "they must speak English. It's the language of international commerce, science, and even the Internet."

There's some historical validity to the idea that, similar to as in business and science, the English was adopted by consensus as the working common language of the Internet by its early builders and users. But there's a great deal of online content in, say, Mandarin these days, as well as South Asian languages. More than that, though, is that with the boom in social tools from Facebook to Twitter to blogging, more and more of the read-write web is being written by its users, in their local tongues. Here's the video.