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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.


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