Future Watching

SnakI Survived the Great Vowel Shift

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Future Watching

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jul 16, 2009, 4:55am

Does anyone feel able to make suggestions about where English might be heading currently? Perhaps not something as momentous as the Great Shift, but some trend.

I suspect things are happening: I would expect the enormous influx of speakers of far eastern languages to the common pool of English speakers to have some influence, for instance.

Anyone prepared to take a guess?

jul 16, 2009, 6:41am

I think the distinction between he and she is disappearing. What will end up replacing them is beyond me.

jul 16, 2009, 7:06am

You might take a look at the book I've been reading... The prodigal tongue : dispatches from the future of English, by Mark Abley. He looks at a lot of the effects that being a "global" language is having on English.

jul 17, 2009, 11:44pm

Sadly, I have no actual book suggestions on the topic... But I do think we can expect to hear a lot more Spanish - vocabulary, if not idioms and some grammar - creeping into American English, and by extension, possibly English elsewhere. This has been happening for years, of course, but I expect to see the process accelerate. I expect the end result to be an even more rich and colorful language!

okt 12, 2009, 1:08am

Do you mean where is written English heading or where spoken English is moving toward?

As I think they're two quite different things which aren't necessarily going to follow each other.

okt 14, 2009, 1:06pm

Can spoken English really diverge that much? I can see divergence between educated and uneducated English, which is a spectrum rather than bimodal - at least going by the literacy standards of some teachers (and some librarians).

There'll always be a divergence because of the off-the-cuff nature of the spoken word. One of my favourite stories is of a secretary who was tasked with 'tidying up' for publication a taped speech given by one of the world's gurus on literacy. It seems it was almost impossible to follow the arguments he brought forward, and it took an age to do! But the expert liked the result.