Will English die out?

hmm   Tue Aug 02, 2005 10:58 pm GMT
If the US and UK don`t start to work togheter with the English language i think it will be 2 different languages and what will we speak then?? what do you think?
american nic   Tue Aug 02, 2005 11:41 pm GMT
who cares?
The Swede   Wed Aug 03, 2005 8:24 am GMT
I don´t think you can prevent a development like that if not the countries will unite each other completely and I think none of them want to see the tow countries united. But it will take time to see American separated to English. I don´t think you will live that day when they speak tow different languages.
Travis   Wed Aug 03, 2005 9:54 am GMT
It is almost certain that in the long run North American English and English English will develop into separate, as in noncrossintelligible, languages. Trying to deliberately prevent such, especially from above, is next to impossible, especially considering how little bearing the strict formal/literary language has on everyday spoken NAE. This is compounded by the fact that what is taught with respect to English in schools in at least the US today almost purely pertains to the literary language, and completely ignores the spoken language.

One note though is that the spoken languages, especially informal spoken languages, will almost certainly reach the point where they are separate languages overall from a linguistic standpoint long before the literary languages will reach that point, due to the strong conservatism of such. Furthermore, it will likely be useful to retain classical literary English as a general literary language, so that individuals can still communicate effectively in writing even if they might not be able to understand each other in speech, and so that individuals can still read much of the literature which has accumulated which is written in such. This does bring up the issue though that classical English will have to be taught effective as a foreign language to speakers of the various Anglic languages, like with Latin and speakers of the various Romance languages during the Middle Ages. However, it may very well be the case that individuals may end up more fluent in classical English in writing than in their own native languages, just like, for example, Swiss German speakers today are very often more fluent in standard Hochdeutsch in writing than in their own Swiss German dialects. Hence it is likely that classical English will survive in writing long after no one speaks it as such as a native language. And even if some may speak it seminatively, it will most likely exist in a diglossic relationship with more local Anglic languages.
JJM   Wed Aug 03, 2005 10:12 am GMT
"american nic" said it best!
Sander   Wed Aug 03, 2005 10:32 am GMT
=>If the US and UK don`t start to work togheter with the English language i think it will be 2 different languages and what will we speak then?? what do you think? <=

I couldn't care if they became separate,because if and when that happens I'll be long dead.If they became separate, "what will we speak?!" Ill speak my one language of course and concerning English? One of them of course! (or both who knows?)

The question is a bit stupid really...
Rick Johnson   Wed Aug 03, 2005 1:13 pm GMT
I think this is a ridiculous question. It may have had some merit in 1805, but considering that even with no TV, film or radio, the languages stayed not only intelligible, but virtually identical (in their standard forms) by 1905, I find it hard to believe that there will be changes in the future. American accents tend to be easy for British people to understand because they have evolved in a time since English first started to become standardized. While dialects have been disappearing in the UK since WWII in favour of more acceptable English, it can still be difficult to tell what some people are saying.
Dwayne   Wed Aug 03, 2005 1:22 pm GMT
Travis wrote: "It is almost certain that in the long run North American English and English English will develop into separate, as in noncrossintelligible, languages."

I would not be so certain about that. In the past, natural barriers (such as long distance) prevented people from communication. Today, when many Britons watch American movies and also some Americans watch BBC and read British books, I don't think they become noncrossintelligible in the foreseeable future. In the past, books were the only samples of language available for people in different places. Now, MultiMedia allows people to share music and films, which contain verbal expression of the language. So I think that GAE will remain recognizable by most English speaker for long time ahead. Probably, as long as it is generally recognized in the US.
Cro Magnon   Wed Aug 03, 2005 1:26 pm GMT
I agree. I don't think American & British will become seperate languages for a very long time, if ever.
Travis   Wed Aug 03, 2005 2:35 pm GMT
I knew someone was going to bring up that media and telecommunication would prevent dialectal divergence. The matter is that such is a very commonly held myth, as it is clear that English dialects today are not converging but rather are most definitely diverging. Case in point, about 100 years ago, what are now Californian English and Northern Inland American English were descended from approximately the same set of dialects. Now today, two chainshifts affecting low and middle vowels are going on in *opposite* directions in each, bring their vowel systems further apart than if one of the given chainshifts happened in one and the other stayed as is. Furthermore, Canadian Raising, to some degree or another, has spread into many Northern Inland American English dialects, while it is not present in Californian English today.

Another case that illustrates this is that historically Australian English has been regarded as being "dialectless" on a regional level, with all variation in it being based on register and social class. And yet today there clearly has been phonological innovation in English in various areas of Australia, resulting in the formation of dialectal differentiation within Australian English. This is shown by clear disagreement over the phonology of Australian English in discussions about it, and with such apparent variations being linked with various regions of Australia. For example, some Australians today say that there is a phonemic split with words like "bred" and "bread", whereas others say that there isn't such a split, which indicates a clear disagreement about what Australian English is, rather than just a matter of variation based on register. This helps indicate that the overall received wisdom about Australian English having no regional variation does not hold as strongly as it may have in the past.

The thing is that while people may become more familiar with other speech forms from hearing them in the media does not mean that people will actually copy such forms in their own speech. Were such so, people in the US today would probably be speaking more like some kind of idealized "General American English", were the "neutral" forms used, especially historically, by newscasters and like of any actual consequence with respect to the speech forms used by viewers. There is no indication that individuals in the US today speak any more like Dan Rather than those 50 years go; on the contrary, individuals in the US today probably overall speak less like him than those 50 years ago. Hence, while the media may make other dialects more comprehensible to individuals, by simply familiarizing such individuals with them, it does not necessarily in itself prevent dialectal divergence at all.
Rick Johnson   Wed Aug 03, 2005 3:12 pm GMT
I think it all depends on your definition of accent, dialect and language. Over time, it seems that seems that groups of people often change particular pronunciations and new accents emerge, but these are still intelligible to other speakers of the same language. Dialects, however, have tended to converge over time rather than diverge with unusual words often dropped and replaced with words in the dictionary.

For a new language to ever emerge, there would have to be a period of a dialect forming with words unintelligible to outsiders and with none exported (most american coined words have spread throughout the world over the last 200 years.) Then grammar and syntax would need to dramtically shift- this seems highly unlikely!!
Trawick   Thu Aug 04, 2005 5:08 pm GMT
To be fair, the differences between European and Latin-American Spanish are far greater than British and American English, yet both types are both considered, well, Spanish.

There are dialects, of course, that diverge enough from what we think of as "standard" English that many have argued that they be labelled seperate languages. African-American Vernacular English (which might be more accurately termed "American Urban English" since it's spoken by caucasian and hispanic people as well) is certainly a good example. Carribean patois is certainly another.

Whether or not other dialects will become unique enough to no longer be considered "English" is debatable. To me, though, there needs to be a serious change in the grammatical structure of the language for this to happen.
Adam   Thu Aug 04, 2005 6:34 pm GMT
"who cares? "

That's the typical American's response, and proves once again that the British, and not the Americans, care about the English language.
Bubbler   Thu Aug 04, 2005 7:05 pm GMT
Adam, you're such a pretentious asshole. I could respect your love for your homeland if it wasn’t paired with such a loathing for those of everyone else. A word of advice . . . . getting laid would be much easier if you dislodged the stick from of your ass. File this under your list of "typical American responses," jerk off.


American English

Also significant beginning around 1600 AD was the English colonization of North America and the subsequent creation of a distinct American dialect. Some pronunciations and usages "froze" when they reached the American shore. ***In certain respects, American English is closer to the English of Shakespeare than modern British English is.***

Some "Americanisms" that the British decry are actually originally British expressions that were preserved in the colonies while lost at home (e.g., fall as a synonym for autumn, trash for rubbish, frame-up which was reintroduced to Britain through Hollywood gangster movies, and loan as a verb instead of lend).
greg   Thu Aug 04, 2005 7:34 pm GMT
Bubbler : on ne peut quand même pas reprocher aux Britanniques d'utiliser un emprunt à l'ancien français <autopnne> / <autopmne> / <autupmne> !...