The World’s Most Powerful Languages

May 22, 2017 Articles, INSEAD, Media / Op-ed
Kai L. Chan, Distinguished Fellow, INSEAD Innovation & Policy Initiative | May 22, 2017 What leaders should know about English and other languages competing for global influence. Should we all emulate Mark Zuckerberg and embrace speaking Mandarin? In April this year, U.S. President Donald Trump’s grandchildren (aged 5 and 2) engaged in soft diplomacy at the highest level when they sang in Mandarin for the Chinese president and his wife. Ten years ago, investor Jim Rogers even moved to Asia to provide his daughters with a strong Chinese learning environment. Language opens doors. Speaking more tongues means more opportunities to participate in conversations… or eavesdrop on them. It’s also clear that the power of a language goes beyond simple head count, not to mention that it’s difficult to count the number of speakers of a language given their various proficiencies. As someone who became a polyglot (five languages) in my 40s – proving that picking up languages in later years is not insurmountable – I grew interested in ranking the usefulness of languages in a scientific manner. I created the Power Language Index (PLI) as a thought experiment: If an alien were to land on Earth, what language would serve it…




These are the world’s most powerful languages:

Research Documents (pdf)

Intelligence Capital IndexPower Language IndexImmigrating into the workforceCanada's Mosaic Ceiling

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