Field of Science

Language evolution

I once met a French guy who not-pologized for his pitiful English by saying that he loved his language and didn't want to lose it (implying that he would if he improved his English). Hogwash. I commented later that that would not happen, French having over 110 million native speakers, but rather that by becoming a universal language, English would be the mangled tongue.

Under the headline This Is English, Rules Are Optional a book about the evolving English language is reviewed in the New York Times, ending with this quote:
“All the signs point to a fundamentally reconfigured world, in which what we now think of as the English-speaking world will eventually lose its effective control of the English language.”

The Lexicographer’s Dilemma: The Evolution of ‘Proper’ English, From Shakespeare to ‘South Park


  1. We have about as much control over the evolution of our favourite languages as we do over the evolution of, say, our own kidneys. "Control" of language change is an illusion...

  2. Iceland has a jury of sorts that invents new words when they are needed (e.g. window and computer) by using old words that aren't used for anything else anymore. Of the Scandinavian languages it is supposedly the least evolved, being closest in written and also spoken form (the spoken to a lesser degree) to the common language of a thousand or more years ago. I'd love for someone to confirm this. Anyone who knows?


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