Among common speculations about the ultimate demise of English as the world's lingua franca (see Jeffrey Gil in ET 105, March 2011, reconsidering Chinese as a possible replacement) Nicholas Ostler (2010) is one more to project ‘the breakdown of English-speaking hegemony’, but his case is more curious than most. After an exhaustive, not to say exhausting, survey of ancient empires and modes of communication, in which Latin as the last lingua franca has but a late bit part, he arrives at an unrelated conclusion: ready machine translation sooner or later rendering a global ‘lingua-franca’ irrelevant (his hyphenation to legitimise an English plural – ‘lingua-francas’). Our springtime island-hopping pilgrimage rather gave the lie to this.
(Online publication March 06 2012)
KEITH DAVIDSON taught English in further education in the UK and was subsequently responsible for school examinations in English at the University of London. He is an Honorary Life Member of the UK National Association for the Teaching of English, which he represents on the UK joint Committee for Linguistics in Education. He writes on language and assessment for the Association and has written a number of articles for English Today. Email: email@example.com