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Translating… The Future?

A little over 600 years ago, Geoffrey Chaucer, whom is widely considered to be the father of English literature, asked why anyone would possibly want to learn English, a language with no literature.  Indeed, at that time English was the new kid on the block, confined to Great Britain’s meager population of just four million people. Fast forward to the 21st century and English has become the most prominent global lingua franca, spoken by nearly two billion people around the globe (around just 335 million of which are native speakers). However, English has evolved since the days of Chaucer and his original works would most likely be rendered incomprehensible to most speakers of English today. Therefore, the natural evolution of language combined with English’s global reach is bound to have a significant impact on its future development as it adapts to the needs and cultures of its speakers. In this post I’m going to examine one of the possible theories on what “Future English” might be like.

English Will Become Much More Simple

It is possible that as more and more people learn English, it will become increasingly more simple. This is a natural phenomenon that occurs especially in the most widely-spoken languages and has been proven through comparisons of widely-spoken modern and classical languages. Experts predict that this natural process may be sped up by the growing amount of non-native speakers using the language on a daily basis. This is because they are more likely to discard the use of more complicated grammatical structures. However, English is actually already well down the road to becoming more simple, as archaic English was much more complex than modern English. For example, several hundred years ago, nouns in English used to carry suffixes that would change depending on their use. This has since disappeared and now only pronouns are modified (for now).

An example of this simplification process taking place right before our eyes is the term “whom.” “Whom” is the indirect object pronoun of its direct object pronoun counterpart, “who.” However, you would be hard pressed to find many native speakers of English that actually use “whom” on a daily basis, let alone understand the proper use of the word. Instead, the pronoun “whom” is slowly being replaced by the more simple, “who.” It’s possible that it may soon disappear from spoken English altogether.

So, in summary, we cannot say with 100% accuracy what the future holds for the English language. We can however, predict that it will most likely continue on its path of becoming grammatically more simple and will continue to morph under the massive pressure of globalization.