Will English Dialects Spoken Around The World Evolve Into Different Languages?

The headline question would be similar to “Did the Latin dialects throughout the Roman Empire evolve into different languages;” and to that question, I would answer most definitely they did and to the former question I would answer that they are already in the works of becoming different languages. In the case of Latin dialects, they would evolve to become French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, and Italian. In the case of English, well, it might become British, American, and Australian (without the hyphenations).

There is a difference between a dialect and an accent. An accent has to do with the variation of word pronunciations that is unique from other accents of the same language; whereas a dialect not only involves pronunciations but also sentence structure. This article takes both of these into account, since they define the differences between the English spoken around the world.

As learned from my linguistics class, variants of the same language (in other words, dialects) can only become separate languages when there is geographical isolation from other variants and they develop independently. This would especially be true when if countries with English-speaking majorities are not just separated by land, but are separated by continents.

Oftentimes, the English spoken in any area of the world can incorporate words from other languages, with an example being South African English borrowing words from Afrikaans and other languages in that area.

There is already a moderate split between English in America and English in Britain, while their grammatical differences are subtle. Mixed with the Received Pronunciation taught by the upper class, British English has already become dramatically different from American English orthography, however intelligible the two dialects are.

If you spelled a sentence in its phonetic form, and it does not even have to use the International Phonetic Alphabet, in three English dialects, you would definitely conclude that you would need to use the English dialect you grew up speaking as a decoder. If that is the case for an English creole language like Gullah, then it would surely be the case for English dialects.

So far, only the English spoken in the English-speaking world have been mentioned, but not the English spoken all over the world. China, for example, is set to become the country with the largest number of English speakers. This mainly has to do with the appeal of the English language as a language of opportunity, specifically when it is the most widely spoken language in the world. To paraphrase Jay Walker, he explained that the appeal has to do with the fact that the English language is considered “the world’s common language for the world’s common problems.”







“Literally” Is Literally Used Wrong, Literally

DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.


I hear the word “literally” used by many people around me, and even my fellow English majors use “literally” loosely.

You are not being literal if you are being figurative. In order to place a literal modification on a word, it first has to be a figure of speech before you can put “literally” before or after it. You are being literal if you are driving down some western interstate highway, your car breaks down just between two giant rock formations, you put your four-ways on, and you call your long-lost friend you were about to visit to say, “Here’s the thing. I’m LITERALLY stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

You are also being literal if you walk into a Barnes & Noble, find a book, look at its cover without opening it, and scoff, “What pretentious, elitist drivel,” which at that point, you LITERALLY judged a book by its cover.

It is not just in the figurative context that I noticed the word being used, but also when emphasizing something, like when some girl says, “Oh, she’s LITERALLY the worst!” Unless you are saying that she is the worst competently in a context where that word usually refers to the person’s moral character, then replace it with “really.” Even the Oxford Dictionary succumbed to stating that it is the case in an informal sense. Well, I would hope to use “literal” in the more formal sense.

“Literally” is formally used when trying to draw comparison between two meanings of the same phrase or word. Those two meanings are meant to be both a figure of speech AND relevant to the real-world topic being discussed. So, “literally” would mean that it is a non-exaggerated use of a commonly exaggerated phrase.

There are articles I wrote, such as this and this, in which I have used “literal,” or any other conjugation of that word in what I concluded was its most appropriate context. I would hope that I am not being judgmental when I say that people use “literally” wrong, but what would the point of my English major be if I did not pay close attention to word choice and context?

If I have not won anyone over, then at least remember the Boy who Cried “Literally.” I would just hope you do not literally laugh your guts out.