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Mark Abley

The prodigal tongue

English is becoming more and more global, but does this mean that it will drift away from what its current speakers would recognise? Will the way language is used on the Internet have more of an effect? In The Prodigal Tongue: Dispatches From The Future of English Mark Abley looks at such issues.

The book starts with a discussion of the coining of new words and how they get into dictionaries. It then examines the way English is used in different parts of Asia such as India and Singapore. This is followed by chapters on English in Japan, and how Spanish is affecting the language of Los Angeles. There's a look at Black English and how its presence in popular music has introduced new words into the language. The later chapters look at the language of technology, and at some of the ways English of the future has been portrayed in fiction.

So it's an interesting enough read, but it seems to me that this book is really two books, one about the global use of English and the other on language change brought about by technology. I would have preferred a book on one of these topics which could have given a deeper analysis on what the likely effect on the future of the language would be.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews