How would English die out as a language?    

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am slightly confused by your question, so I have edited it to make more sense, but I hope I have not changed it too much. I guess English as we know it is constantly evolving, so that the English that people will speak in 100 years or 200 years will be completely different from the English that we speak today. Also, if we are talking about hypothetical scenarios, English could die out very easily in the case of a global disaster that would wipe out large numbers of the population (a happy thought). Actually, if you think about it, with immigration and globalisation other languages are becoming more and more important, so I don't think we will ever see one universal language as some have feared, and this also leads to the possibility that English might naturally die out some day as many other languages are doing today. A very interesting question though...

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It seems to me this is a numbers game.  As previous posters have suggested, it would take another culture group which speaks a different language to completely overtake English-speaking people.  Realistically, it seems to me, that would have to mean the eradication (death) of all who speak the language or a vestige could remain and re-energize as a viable language group.  I'm certain there have been languages which have "died"; however, English is so much more prevalent around the world than any other which may have come and gone, that the realistic odds of this happening are slim to none.  I'm not sure why you're reflecting on this issue, but I'd be interested in hearing what prompted this discussion.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You'll notice that the major languages of the world are reflective, in many cases, of the empires which have come and gone in the past.  The Spanish, English and French empires have spread their languages around the globe.  As their power waned, so did the language, to some extent.  This was not true of Spanish in Latin America, but only because the vast majority of the population of natives had died of disease and the empire stayed on long term in those places.

For economic empires like the US, where eventual decline of influence and power are inevitable, English could become less the dominant language versus, say Chinese, as China's power economically and militarily is rising.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my opinion, the most likely way that English could die as a language would be if some other civilization took over as the dominant one in the world.  If that happened, English could potentially die out over a long period of time.

Languages only tend to die if they are supplanted by some other language and their native speakers' kids start speaking that other language.  This is, for example, what has happened to Native American languages.

So, in order for English to die, some other language would have to be so dominant that the children of English speakers would stop learning English and would learn the other language instead.

drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I honestly don't believe that English would ever completely die out. The American influence of popular culture around the world has been pervasive. Despite our drop in global economic standing, we remain one of the superpowers economically. Many foreign businesspeople learn English in order to do business with American companies.

The simple fact that the rise of American economic status was followed by the global information revolution will prevent English from ever dying out.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The language would only die out completely if a non-English speaking culture/society conquered and took over the English-speaking nations of the world.  If that culture forbade the use of oral and written English, then it is quite possible that the language would die...similarly to Native American languages which were never written down and all the native speakers passed on without teaching the language to their offspring.

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is hard to imagine the English language would ever "die out", however I guess if you looked at it hypothetically anything is possible. I would agree with other posters that possibly the only way this could happen is if non English speaking countries became the dominant powers. Keep in mind however that the United States is not the only English speaking country.

avinashsudan1983 | Student

as far as english is concerned, it has evolved its way 2 d top coz it assimilates 4m other languages unlike mandarin. Most of d 3rd world countries follow english (& thank god that list includes india which will overtake china soon enough in population) they simply will not put their kids in mandarin learning schools unlike their western counterparts who believe everything they see on TV

by the end of this century, the major languages will be english, mandarin(but only spoken by chinese, u cant xpect any indian or mexican or arab to learn it), arabic, spanish,french, german & hindi. north america,europe,australia & majority of asia will see english dominance in the next century too.south america,china,india,russia,arabic speaking countries,mexico,europe,africa & other regions will have english as the no.1 or no.2 language at that time.other languages will borrow heavily from english & also among the english at that time will be very different from d one we know now.

anyone who likes this post can follow me on twitter or facebook. questions are always welcome.

avinashsudan1983 | Student

folks 1st of all english language will nvr die out rather it'll b mandarin which will vanish in its present form unless they simplify it

talking bout d country, chinese power is rising bt only 4 a limited period of time.d 1 child policy adopted by china will leave china with only old people in d 2nd half of d century.d world at that time will not b having one country domination but US,CHINA,INDIA,BRAZIL,RUSSIA & OF COURSE EUROPEAN UNION will be sharing the same status. It might happen in d near future that african countries & mayb others 2 come up with their union following european model.& believe me nobody wants 2 migrate 2 china d way they want to land up in us or europe.its a cool place for a short visit.but not 4 a lifetime thanks to their human rights scenario.

moreover mandarin language is totally out of place with a whole different set of vocabulary,alphabets and other non-sense stuff.if d chinese have 2 survive they will have 2 learn english & not vice versa. also d future mandarin if it survives will be a hell lot different from its native must borrow words from other languages, use some other earthly script for writing(using english alphabets will be the coolest), improve its pronounciation and so on,d same way d turkish did earlier.

kim-c | Student

Maybe if more people ended up speaking another language and forget English! Or probably if more businesses are looking for people who can speak languages other than English, because English is already widely known.

Another crazy idea could be something like Avatar. Avatar have their own languages and here in Australia, there are some schools that have a competition in creating your own language! Maybe that could lead to new languages being introduced. But frankly, I can't see English die and I don't think it ever will.

Interesting discussion though!

leili2010 | Student

If only some other lanaguage like Chinese/Mandarin take over the world, and learning Mandarine become the language of success and China overdominate the world culturally, we might see the demise of English but only as a domainate language. I don't think English could extinguish totally.