English is the dominant world language today. The French sometimes promote French as an alternative international language, and historically it was prominent in Europe and today we find it in Africa and North America as well as Europe. Spanish and Portuguese, just like English and French, were spread by colonial conquest and are spoken in a number of countries and continents, and therefore are also world languages today. Russian is also a major world language, and it was also spread by colonial expansion.


I was recently in Lativa, and Russia. While in Russia I enjoyed food from the many countries that used to be part of Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union like the Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Armenia and Georgia. Right now the St. Petersburg Economic Forum is taking place and delegates from all over the world, but especially the former Soviet Union countries, are there to discuss possible economic cooperation and business ventures. I imagine that a lot of the discussion will be in Russian.


The Russian language space occupies a large part of the world, from the Baltic to the Pacific,and from the Arctic to the Black Sea and Central Asia. It is a rich continental community with historical relations, not always without conflict, where the Russian language is an important unifying element. I hope that this area becomes the kind of post-colonial community that the Commonwealth, la Francophonie,and similar Spanish and Portuguese language communities are striving to be. Economically it can be even more significant, although there are tensions as Russia struggles to adapt to a new role as the most powerful, but still equal, member of such a community.

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