Tuesday, November 7, 2017

... on Future of English

How long will it take for the current English language to evolve into something average people in the future cannot understand? The way Old English is to us today?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
I speak two langs, Latin and Germanic. In a few dialects.
Answered 1m ago
Between Old English and today, there is not just a long series of changes in word choice and sound system and even grammar.

There is also a shift - a quite drastic one - of writing tradition.

About 100 years after the Norman Conquest, Old English writing, based on Wessex dialect, ceased to be written. Latest entries in Anglo-Saxon Chronicle would mark the end.

This means that dialects are mostly no longer influenced by the Wessex written Anglo-Saxon dialect.

Then experiments in writing start to occur, some with spelling systems as incomprehensible if not more than Anglo-Saxon (Orrmulum). Then a basically taking over of French spelling (as it was pronounced then) occurred in most dialects and on top of that, there was a competition between West Midlands, Scots Lowlands, London dialects on which would become the standard language.

As soon as the new spelling system is used with London dialect, that English is comprehensible - because it is the tradition of writing which English is still preserving, with some modifications.

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote …

This is comprehensible today, and as long as the English we write is preserved in writing, will remain comprehensible to people having learned to write and read English.

You can get a language as far from this English as Trigedasleng[1] - and who has learned to read English will still be able to do so, reshuffling of course some grammar, and influencing his oral Trigedasleng with bits and pieces of what we consider constitutive of correct English.

It is only if the written tradition breaks down and writing starts anew from Trigedasleng, that those having learned that cannot make head of tail of the English we use.


[1] Trigedasleng

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Just now
You spell “sis” in different ways:

“assist” for [sis … au]
“sister” for [sis]
“six” for [sis]

You don’t really use [sis … op] in writing. Lift is the old word.

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