Tomorrow’s English Today: problems in predicting the linguistic future

Chair: Dan McIntyre, University of Huddersfield

Speakers:

Sandra Jansen, University of Brighton & Universität Paderborn – Predicting the future of English: Considerations when engaging with the public

Lynne Murphy, University of Sussex – Is the future American?

Mario Saraceni, University of Portsmouth – Back to the future: How the future of English looks like its past

Predictions about English often focus on simplification of linguistic forms, loss of prestigious features, and loss of diversity. These regularly inspire catastrophic media headlines. We raise critical questions about crystal-ball linguistics:
• What is the track record of linguistic prediction?
• What can the past tell us (or not) about the future?
• What biases undermine prediction/reporting? Which aspects are over-considered or overlooked?
• Do such predictions have value? For linguistics? Interdisciplinarily? For the general public?
• What ethical issues are raised in communicating about linguistic change?
Which questions about the linguistic future cannot be answered?

Thursday 6th July, 11.00