Will English Ever Die Out?

There are predictions that, like Latin before it, English must inevitably lose its global dominance. The Guardian's Robert McCrum is not convinced.

Is English, like Latin, doomed to the fate of Ozymandias? This is the issue taken up in Nicholas Ostler's provocative new book, The Last Lingua Franca. Arguing from the history of previous great lingua francas—Sanskrit, Persian and Latin—Ostler says that, over many centuries the linguistic phenomenon sometimes referred to as "Globish", a word now acknowledged by the OED, must inevitably yield to historical change, and surrender its extraordinary global influence. In plain language, as a lingua franca, English is doomed. The difficulty with predictions about English is that they are almost always proved wrong. No one, in Shakespeare's day, saw a future world role for English.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Originally, Poe envisioned a parrot, not a raven

Quoth the parrot — "Nevermore."

The Green Parrot by Vincent van Gogh, 1886
Culture & Religion
  • Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1949) is considered one of America's great writers.
  • Poe penned his most famous poem, The Raven, in his 30s.
  • Originally, the poem's feathered subject was a bit flamboyant.
Keep reading Show less

Your body’s full of stuff you no longer need. Here's a list.

Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.

Image source: Ernst Haeckel
Surprising Science
  • An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
  • Basically, this is the stuff that served some evolutionary purpose at some point, but now is kind of, well, extra.
  • Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
  • Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
  • But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
Keep reading Show less