English has very nearly become the universal language of science. Whether for publication or for international conferences and symposia, English now dominates scientific communication. By what degree is apparent from the contents of the journals indexed in ISI’s Science Citation Index. This group of journals, selected by both peer judgment and the citation patterns of the world’s scientists, represents the most important portion of the scientific literature. Although this is only a portion of the whole universe of scientific publications, it has long been established that a small number of core journals accounts for the lion’s share of important articles and citations.

Of the 700,000 articles indexed in the 1986 SCI, 87.8 percent are in English (of which 3 percent comes from translation journals), 4 percent in Russian, 3.7 percent in German, 2.5 percent in French, 0.8 percent in Japanese and 0.6 percent in Spanish. Articles in all other languages...

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