The need for an international language has always existed. In the past it was about religion and intellectual debate. With the technologies of today, it’s about communicating with others anywhere in the world in a matter of moments.

Two events, separated by nearly 400 years, show how this need has always been present.

Firstly, sitting in front of me I have a copy of the celebrated book Utopia, by Sir Thomas More. This particular edition is published in 1629 in Amsterdam, not in English, not in Dutch, but in Latin.

The second event was a talk I recently had with a German scientist. He said that he knew of scientific conferences taking place in Germany, where all the people attending were German and yet the conference was conducted in English.

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