Is it possible to have a planetary leader without a planetary language?

Simple question really.

A planetary-wide leader can be defined as someone who holds the same kinds of executive powers as President Trump holds over the USA right now, except over the entire world.

A planetary language* can be defined as a language that is taught in all schools starting at age 5, no matter what the country. Not everybody needs to speak it in their daily life, but (virtually) everybody needs to understand it and be able to read it.

Is it possible to have the former without the latter? Currently, the closest thing to it is the EU, where there is no universal language.

However, the EU has no true powerful leader and it is only one small region of the world. Its citizens also mostly look somewhat alike and eat similar foods like bread and cheese, worshipping mostly Jesus.

Please justify your answer :smiley:

*(Obviously, there is no such thing as a planetary language in 2017. Not even english comes close)

India seems to manage to have a central leader without a universal language.

Two points that may need clarification:

  1. Does the World Leader have to be elected by the entire world population, or would something like the Roman or British Empires, expanded to cover the globe, count?

  2. When (sic!) artificial intelligence will allow us to understand any language by means of smartphone or some equivalent, does this count as a “planetary language”, although it relies on technology rather than memorization?

Countries all over the world have multiple official languages and large populations who speak separate languages. Switzerland has four official languages; as referenced above, India has 23.

Here’s Wikipedia’s list of multilingual countries. Most manage to have a national government even though not everyone speaks the same language.

President, not dictator, so yes, 1 person 1 vote.

Only If it reaches Star Trek levels and translates in real time based on the other person’s thoughts. Let’s just say no.

All that matters is that the *President *speaks a couple of the major languages, I’d say - if he only spoke, say, English, that would not do. It’s OK (not great, but somewhat understandable) if he doesn’t fluently speak any of the languages which are most popular but geographically fairly restricted, like Mandarin or Hindi, but he should be at least passably conversant in a couple of worldwide languages, like say, Spanish, French or Arabic.

It’s a hard sell to be considered “world leader” if you only speak the language of one former Empire. Even our President speaks several languages, and he’s such an idiot his lips move when he reads big words in his native language.

No executive power and members are not elected, but wouldn’t the GenSec of the UN provide the framework that your looking for.

Except they have English, which is an official language and is extremely wide-spread and neutral as between the different ethnic groups in India.

How do leaders like Alexander, Khan, Caesar, Asoka, etc fit into this question? Seems to me they ruled the “world” without a world language,


Wikipedia says that only 12% of India speaks English. Are they wrong?

English is widespread among highly educated people in India. Most Indians are not highly educated though.

I think about 15% of Indian people know English, that’s about it.

If it’s a absolute dictatorship, I could see it working since the dictator’s orders could just be translated for each area.

A parliament/congress would probably be a mess because debate would be really clunky if it’s being done through a shedload of translators.

Global election campaigns would be insanely hard to work as well since you’d have to avoid language specific sayings/metaphors…it would probably lead to very easy to understand and simple policy statements that would survive translation though so that could be an advantage


A lot of premodern leaders didn’t really rule over states in the sense we think of them, they ruled over a network of separate states which all acknowledged the supreme authority & paid tribute to a single monarch. The Mughal emperors called themselves “King of Kings”, for example, because they recognized subordinate kings under them who paid them tribute and acknowledged their superiority. A single language isn’t as necessary if you aren’t running a single unified administration.

And not everybody speaks it, and many of those who speak it do it about as well as your average Spaniard (that is, not well). Many speak it for professional purposes but don’t get them outside of those particular fields (something I’ve encountered in ESL speakers from many other places, mind you). Neither a lingua franca nor a professional lingo are the same thing as a common language.

The UN manages it, precisely with a bunch of translators. If we’re talking about a global version of Congress, it shouldn’t be very difficult, when drawing upon the resources and skills of the entire world, to find competent translators for each member of our global parliament / congress.

Canada and the USA have a common language and similar cultures. Think we’re uniting any time soon?

Language is the LEAST of it.


We’re not quite there yet but…

Google has built earbuds that translate 40 languages in real time

Can we have a global government without a global monoculture? Could we have either or both without brutal political oppression? I’m immensely skeptical.

I like how they do it in the European Union… The EU has more than 20 official languages, all told. At the different bodies of the EU (Parliament, Counsel, Commission, etc.), instead of having to find, say, a simultaneous translator from Finnish to Maltese, what they do is a 2-step translation system.

If they are in a situation that requires translating from any language to any other language, what they have is a first set of translators that go from any of the official languages to English, French or German. And they have another set of translators that go from English, French or German to the other official languages.

The second set of translators tunes to the first, and translates what the first set of translators is saying.

The delegates can either tune in to the first set of translators (to hear things only in English, French or German), or they can tune to the second set if they want to hear a translation in their own language.

Of course, most of the delegates in those bodies can speak English, French or German, and this kind of two-step translation is normally not necessary. But when it is needed, they will use it.

It is a bit like a human version of machine translation, using an intermediate coding :slight_smile: