This plenary talk looks at recent and possible future changes to the English language.

Speaker(s): 
David Crystal

About the session

Who would of thought it? The English language 1966-2066

Complaints about a supposed decline in standards of English continue to be made, with increasing frequency, in the British press. Although these are nothing new – as the long history of use of would of for would have illustrates – they do draw attention to the way we seem to be going through a period of unusually rapid language change. This paper illustrates the main changes in pronunciation, orthography, grammar and vocabulary, discusses the chief factors involved – social mobility, globalization and the internet – and compares the changes that have taken place in the past fifty years with those that are likely to take place in the next fifty.

About the speaker

David Crystal is honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Bangor, and works from his home in Holyhead, North Wales, as a writer, editor, lecturer and broadcaster. He read English at University College London, specialized in English language studies, then joined academic life as a lecturer in linguistics, first at Bangor, then at Reading, where he became professor of linguistics. He received an OBE for services to the English language in 1995. Recent books include The Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary (with Ben Crystal), Making a point: the pernickety story of English punctuation, The disappearing dictionary and The gift of the gab: how eloquence works. His current research is chiefly in applied historical English phonology, with particular reference to Shakespearean original pronunciation. He is the patron of IATEFL.

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