Kevin Rudd Speaks Mandarin, Possibly the Next Language of Empire

Prime Minister Howard and Comrade Kevin Rudd both seemed eager to please Chinese President Hu Jintao at a reception last night. Rudd even greeted a delighted Chinese delegation in Mandarin. It showed that Australia’s Prime Minister-in-waiting knows the language of Australia’s most important economic ally/strategic adversary.

For all we know, Rudd was ordering sweet and sour chicken with small fried rice. It sounded good, though. And it does show you that times are changing.

When Napoleon’s Empire spread from the Atlantic coast of Spain to the outskirts of Moscow, French became the lingua franca and the language of international diplomacy. It was the language of Empire, as France was the world’s imperial power. The military rise of Great Britain in the 19th century and the United States in the 20th century made English the language of business (and of Empire).

Will Mandarin ever be the language of business? Or of Empire? It’s all Greek to us, but kudos to Rudd.

Dan Denning
Markets and Money

What do you think will be the next language of business? Or of empire? Leave a comment below.

Dan Denning
Dan Denning examines the geopolitical and economic events that can affect your investments domestically. He raises the questions you need to answer, in order to survive financially in these turbulent times.

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4 Comments on "Kevin Rudd Speaks Mandarin, Possibly the Next Language of Empire"

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Esperanto or Lojban! HAH! I doubt either of these “nerd” languages will take hold in any setting.

Firefly the science fiction series had a type of mongrel english/mandarin mix (though mandarin was mainly used for swearing) which seems plausible.


Esperanto deserves to be considered very seriously. Not everyone can afford the time and money necessary to study English. Furthermore using a national language creates an enormous inequality, as it is always so much easier to communicate in one’s native language. Esperanto can be studied in a reasonable amount of time by everyone, even people not gifted for languages. It has proven itself, that it works extremely well and enables people to have deep conversations which would not be possible in any other second language.


Our mother-tongue carries our soul, our mores. Let us protect ALL mother-tongues. And for inter-national communication, let us use a neutral, easy to learn language. Several of those have already been compiled, we only have to choose one. Then we can use it as a BRIDGE to look at any other cultures and learn any other language we wish. “created languages” are sometimes belittled as being “artificial”, but we don’t reject cars because they are artificial horses !

Tony Ryan

To Dan Denning

As I see it, Rudd is crafty, manipulative and an absolute pragmatist; but he is neither intelligent nor creative. Someone, at some time, put it to him that if he learns Mandarin he can stand in line to be PM one day.

This, or he presented this skill to a power-broker (Cheney? Murdoch?) and the point was well taken.

Either way, I want to know how Rudd came to learn Mandarin; given that there is no other obvious motive for a long term political aspirant.

Kindest regards

Tony Ryan

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