Michael Erard has a good essay in this month's issue of Wired about the future of English. I dropped him a note the other day and he sent me the following, from the cutting-room floor.

Will Chinese English be more efficient to use than the proper English it replaces? That assumes English is efficient, but in some ways, it's not. Other languages pack more information into words, such as indicating where the information came from. English pronouns, which lack a plural "you," are particularly weak. As far as the evolution of the language goes, any gains you could get from eliminating a few exceptions (say, the plurals "children," "men," and "women") would be overshadowed by the persistent brainsuck that is English spelling, where "bury" and "fury" are pronounced differently, some letters are silent, and others represent two sounds--and not always the same two.

Well put.
Posted
AuthorDavid Wolman