‘Sometimes a language does exactly what we think it should; sometimes it goes places we don't like and thrives there in spite of all our worrying.’ (Kory Stamper)
I taught English recently at a Montessori school in Germany. I was struck by the amazing level of conversational English of some of the students, and asked how it was possible that they could understand and speak so confidently and fluently at such a young age. Almost all replied that they have learned spoken English via online computer games, where they interact informally and socially with other young people from all over the world. English, for them, isn’t just another foreign language. It’s a form of linguistic currency that enables international communication, relationships, learning and fun.
I find myself wondering what the impact will be over, say, 30 years of so many young people 'rubbing shoulders' with international English in this way. I won’t be around then to know the answer to the question, but I suspect that German, currently with 16 different ways to say, for instance, the English word ‘the’, will become simplified in common usage, so that speakers will start to use just one form of definite article in their own language too. We may also see conventions in other increasingly-international languages, such as Mandarin Chinese, influencing how other languages are used.
What do you think?
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