12 Ago Future English / Johnson: Simpler and more foreign
SEVERAL weeks ago, Johnson discussed his debate with Nicholas Ostler about the lingua franca of the future. Johnson thinks that English has a very long run ahead of it. Mr Ostler sees English’s time as coming to an end, to be replaced by machine-translation tools that will remove the need for people to learn to speak, read and write a lingua franca. But we agreed that whatever the long run might look like, the next few decades are set. No language has anything like a chance of displacing English.
Interestingly, about two-thirds of English-speakers are not first-language speakers of English. To put it another way: English no longer belongs to England, to superpower America, or even to the English-speaking countries generally. Rather, English is the world’s language. What happens to a language when it becomes everybody’s? Shaped by the mouths of billions of non-native speakers, what will the English of the future look like?
Jul 3rd 2014, 11:53 by R.L.G. | BERLIN