The Language of Space
A bit of an aside in some commentary on Avatar “It is also worth repeating the observation that humans in American science fiction films almost always seem to be English speaking white-folk.”
Obviously having the characters of an American film or TV series speak English is convenient in a number of ways. But it also strikes me as at least plausible to speculate that English will be very widely spoken by future-people of the sort depicted in sci fi. It is, after all, the dominant language of international business and scholarship. And it seems more likely to me that as China develops more Chinese people will learn English than that Chinese will start to displace English. Among other things, English is already pretty well-established as something like a pure third party language—it’s what a South Korean visiting Stockholm or a Saudi trying to do a business deal in Nigeria would speak—so it has a vitality as a lingua franca that extends beyond the demographic of geopolitical clout of the English-speaking world.
Of course realistically the English spoken in the 24th century would probably be unfamiliar in many ways to a modern speaker. I assume that if Thomas Jefferson showed up in DC tomorrow and started talking there’d be a lot of confusion over vocabulary and accents and such.
The racial stuff is different. Based on what we know about the demographics of earth and the likely future trends, the predominance of white people in the future seems to imply some kind of fairly alarming event leading to massive die-offs among the non-white population.