The Art of Dancing with Change

"English is destined to be in the next and succeeding centuries more generally the language of the world than Latin was in the last or French is in the present age. The reason of this is obvious, because the increasing population in America, and their universal connection and correspondence with all nations will, aided by the influence of England in the world, whether great or small, force their language into general use."

- John Adams, American colonies, 1780

Most native speakers of English consider they speak and write 'standard English', or 'the Queen's English', or at least 'good English'. However, even Welsh linguist, David Crystal, the world's most respected living authority on the English language, says 'standard English', the 'Queen's English', and 'good English' do not exist: Not in dictionaries, not in books, not in people's mouths. Instead we all speak and write with regional differences. Each of these different dialogues are labeled by those who are educated and live in English-speaking countries as 'standard English', or 'the Queen's

English', and, above all, 'good English'. The various species of English-speaking fish have always swum in such murky waters that it has never been possible to catch one and declare, 'This is a proper fish.'

At present North American English seems to prevail over British English in international communication. Probably this has occurred due to economic and technological advantages, but it may be simply due to numbers. The population of the United States is four to five times the population of the United Kingdom, so on that basis alone we could expect more language innovation from the American side. In the near future, more people will be communicating internationally in English than the population of North America and the United Kingdom combined. If number of users affects language change, we may be about to experience extremely rapid change as English-language fish from many other cultures swim in the river.

0 0

Post a comment