Well, In my opinion, there's English, and there's English. I think the
situation could end not unlike Classical Chinese: the English we are *
writing* now will survive for centuries to come, eventually becoming the
world's leading language and slowly replacing many other written languages,
but the English we are *speaking* now will continue to diversify, breaking
up into many mutually unintelligible languages which have even less
connection with the written form as is the case already. Maybe some other of
the world's languages will disappear under the dominion of English, but I
think most of those would have disappeared anyway. And in the end people
will want to get rid of a written language no-one speaks anymore, and the
different spoken languages in the English language family will get their own
orthographies, after which they will be recognized as different languages
and we can start all over again.


(P.S.: Pirahã will never be replaced by anything, of course. :-) )

2008/12/15 Jörg Rhiemeier <[log in to unmask]>

> > > > Yes.  And English is the current leader, and much more of a
> > > > world language than any language before.  It is the de facto
> > > > standard of international communication worldwide.  I have
> > > > once heard of a linguist who predicted that English will
> > > > become the sole language of humanity somewhen in the middle
> > > > of the millennium (but I doubt that).
> > >
> > > I doubt it also. People do not easily give up their own languages.
> >
> > I don't necessarily see it becoming the *sole* langauge, at least
> > not that soon.  I do see where in the next 200-300 years it will
> > become universally known to almost all humanity, and by 500 years it
> > will be the L1 of most humans though I'd expect some small pockets
> > where local languages will still be in use.  I can envision a time
> > further down the road though were the local languages will
> > eventually erode away but 500 years just seems like too short of a
> > period.  Meanwhile English will evolve during all of this and will
> > probably not be intelligible with the language we are using here.
> I think that's a good prediction.  Within 100 or 200 years,
> English will be the universal L2, and while many small
> languages will die out, many others will survive.  If the
> world follows a path of sustainable development in which
> the rights of the people are respected and poverty becomes
> history, I see no reason why the universal L2 English
> should kill off the various L1s.  And then, English will
> continue to diversify, and eventually break up into daughter
> languages.

Idustvok va yentelkvil gifpir, puk gifpir, ivan kitil.