This brief article from the current issue of The Week bolsters my contention that we found English to be much more prevalent last year in Europe than in prior trips.
The Wall Street Journal
The future belongs to the English language, said John McWhorter. English is rapidly becoming what the creators of Esperanto had envisioned: a language spoken on every continent, and the primary medium for communication among different nations. Today, almost 2 billion people speak English to some degree, and soon one out of three people on Earth will be able to converse in it. Though China’s population is the largest of any nation’s, English is far more entrenched in global technology and media than Mandarin, which is extremely difficult for non-natives to speak and write. If a century from now, “the Chinese rule the world, they will likely do so in English.” In 2115, linguists estimate, only about 600 of the 6,000 languages now spoken around the world will remain. Major languages such as Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, and Russian will continue to be used within nations, but when earthlings deal with the larger world online or in person, English will be the lingua franca. The passing of so many languages into antiquity is, no doubt, a shame. But “universal comprehension” is a powerful consolation.