VALENCIA, Spain – By 2050, 10 percent of the world population will speak Spanish and the United States will be the biggest Spanish-speaking country, the general secretary of the Association of Spanish Language Academies said Monday in this Mediterranean city.
Cuban writer and academician Humberto Lopez Morales made this prediction during his speech upon being awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Valencia at a ceremony presided over by Spanish Education Minister Angel Gabilondo.
He noted that the current situation of Hispanics in the United States is the result of a confluence of historical processes headed by Mexico at the beginning of the 20th century, followed by Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and, more recently, Venezuela and Argentina.
“Besieged by poverty and by the barriers that impeded access to decent salaries, a minimally acceptable home, basic conditions of health or the education of their children,” the citizens of those countries emigrated to the “promised land.”
The successes achieved by the immigrants, and the comparison with the decadent situations prevailing in their home countries spurred, Lopez Morales said, a process of voluntary “acculturation” that affected the immigrants’ mode of dress, customs and eating habits, but also the language.
“Growing abandonment of positive attitudes toward the mother tongue, restriction of the settings in which Spanish was used, gradual impoverishment and, possibly, advanced stages of linguistic mortality” are some of the symptoms of that acculturation process, he said.
However, “things have changed, and a lot,” thanks to the growing clout of the Hispanic population in the United States, and estimates are that in 2012 there will be more than 52 million Latino citizens, thus making them the largest minority in the country.
“Knowing Spanish is ... among other things, a business,” and in some states, like Florida, “Spanish is a good passport for obtaining a job,” he said.
According to another study cited by Lopez Morales, “every minute that goes by, 2.5 Hispanics enter the stream of immigrants to the country, that is to say, 3,700 per day.”
If the forecast is born out, the United States by 2050 will become the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world and Spanish will be the second-most-spoken language on the planet, surpassed only by Chinese.
“If the course does not change, it’s very possible that within three or four generations 10 percent of the world population will understand Spanish. Let us hope so!” he concluded. EFE