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Words shaping the English language

An interesting blog post at the Washington Post looks at the five words shaping our future.

Jonathon Keats proposes that “words occasionally anticipate the reality they come to reflect”, particularly now in our technological society. The words he thinks we will be using more in the future are mostly combinations of other words, for example memristor = a resistor with electrical memory.

The most interesting for me is Panglish – “a simplified future world English”.

An estimated 1.5 billion people speak English, fewer than a quarter of whom speak it as a first language. Most get by with simplified grammar and a vocabulary of a couple thousand words. Coined to identify this streamlined English, panglish has transformed the phenomenon into a topic of debate. Panglish has been vilified by English nativists afraid that their language is being gutted, and by lexical nationalists abroad terrified that panglish will sully local tongues. Yet few panglish speakers even know the word panglish. They have no need for it. Those who would decree the future of language might as well speak gibberish.

The idea that everyone will speak some level of English in the future is hotly debated. Some believe English will wither away and die out, others think it will go from strength to strength. One of the world’s foremost experts on English thinks it will fragment into global dialects. In 2000, the British Council estimated that over a billion people were learning the language, so it looks healthy so far – who knows what the future will bring?