Having painstakingly correlated the many laments over the imminent demise of the English language, from the 18th century right down to today, I have discovered that there are recurring patterns with ever shorter wavelengths (so to speak) that enable me, after complicated calculations, to say with certainty that English will cease to exist as of March 31, 2058. After that date, those of you who are still around will have to communicate in some language that has been less profligate with its inherited store of meaning. I just thought you’d want to know.


  1. Well, that’s a relief. At least it will outlast me. But what should I tell me daughter, who’s an English major? At least she may be retired by then.

  2. Cool. I’ve always loved studying dead languages; in 52 years I’ll be able to say I speak one natively. And I suppose people in the future will probably mistakenly call *this* “Old English”, too. Thanks for the announcement. :-)

  3. Tatyana says:

    Now I’m simply obligated to outlive this dying concoction, till the days I could start speaking exclusively the great powerful Russian Tongue, who is my only hope and support(c)

  4. Hopefully I’ll finally get the hang of Chinese by then!

  5. Yes, but have you taken into account the brilliant method for calculating prophetic dates devised by John Craig in his 1699 ‘Principia Mathematica’? His method was simple: he found an algebraic expression of the likelihood of a given event (in his case, the Second Coming, in your case, the demise of English) based on the ‘vanishing probability’ and ‘velocity of scepticism’ accruing from the declining dissemination of the original prophecy (in his case, the Gospels, in your case, a series of unnamed predictions). Craig worked out a date of 3150 for the Second Coming, and your sources are considerably more recent, and more believable–so I would in fact posit a much later date for the death of English, perhaps around 4675. Of course, this doesn’t take into account the English Romance languages–Spanglish, Franglais, Chinglish, and the various dialects of Anglanese.

  6. Mr Hat’s “calculations” are nothing but baseless speculation and anti-industry scaremongering — an attempt to turn the public against greengrocers and their apostrophes. Michael Crichton will NOT be happy when he hears about this.

  7. John Emerson says:

    Jende ma!

  8. By that time, I’ll be an ancient relic, and I can swear at them with impunity. Cool.

  9. michael farris says:

    The question is (recalling the rules of entropy as applied to linguistic periphenomena) where will English go? Languages do not disappear and more than matter can, they can only change form.
    Even a cursory …look around at stuff and the answer is obvious, English is being absorbed into other languages at a horrific pace. And as words can no more exist in two languages than physical objects can appear in two places at the same time it means that English is losing words at an ever faster pace. Sadly, this will leave the unfortunate Anglophones grasping for … things to say as they try to put …. words together. They might … think about what happend to their talking things and stuff. Many word studying guys think this accounts for the increased use of words such as ‘like’, ‘stuff’ and ‘guy’ as talking guys try and can’t think of the things they want to …talk. (things are worse than I realized, it’s starting to do something to me, must … use … willpower ….. and talk about stuff … arrrrgghhhh!
    Okay, that was a struggle, but I think I’m over that attack but I’ll have to make this quick before I have another …thing … happens. Interestingly enough, complicated like, stuff, indicates there will be a complete like stopping of civilization stuff in early 2059 like a bomb thing or stuff. So that several, like things from newly emerging thing of word study stuff will try to do stuff and wonder why word things in this place and this other place have so much stuff in common, and that’s how historical linguistics will be reborn.

  10. Oh my God, somebody just used ‘hopefully’ as a sentence adverb. Knock another day or two off that lifespan projection ….
    Have you tipped Safire off yet, Hat? He’s going to want to know about this

  11. Make sure your announcement is translated to Latin and Greek, so that they will know after it has happened that you knew it would happen.
    Lasting marble, dear Hat, lasting marble is what you want!

  12. Nothing wrong with using ‘hopefully’ like that until ‘hopeably’ becomes an accepted word (oh, sorry, wrong debate). Anyway, thanks for sharing this with us, hat, it’s well to be prepared.

  13. And as words can no more exist in two languages than physical objects can appear in two places at the same time it means that English is losing words at an ever faster pace. Sadly, this will leave the unfortunate Anglophones grasping for … things to say as they try to put …. words together.
    Aha, is that why so many people’s every other word is either F#$% or “like” (like F#$%, F#$% like, like F#$%, F#$% like)? I was wondering about the efficacy of null/one communication. At this rate I predict the last word to survive in the living English language and the last word to be spoken before the language is officially pronounced dead to be”F#$%!”
    I wonder what the last word spoken in living Latin was?
    Languagehat, have you checked out the discussion going on at Cassandra Pages? We desperately need your input there!

  14. dungbeetle says:

    “I wonder what the last word spoken in living Latin was” et tu

  15. If this prophecy is an allusion to a growing number of non native speakers speaking English, and speaking it incorrectly, and slowly (or maybe not slowly) overwhelming the total number of people currently speaking English, and thus making it statisticaly worse and worse, less and less *good* (real?) English – in one word, to users like me – then I agree. English is going to disappear.
    But no worry, a new language will arise. As a lingua franca it will be easy and nice. Honestly, I can’t wait it. English is so… unintuitive, if I can say that way.

  16. michael farris says:

    maju, dwa słowa ….. prima aprilis

  17. A gem! Make sure to let Jack Hitt know about your discovery, so he can get an earlier start on chronicling the death of a language, and maybe even get it right next time.

  18. Tatyana says:

    Michael F: it took you the whole day?

  19. But what if your wrong. By my calculations it could happen any time now. It could happen tomorow or judx ldicia kkenll nnmmde teknl.

    ja vit :)

  20. Paul Lucic says:

    I’m sure the Anglican Bishop who calculated that the Earth was created on August 28th, 4004 B.C. is holding a seat open for you in the hottest circle of Hell. See you there!

  21. I’m not convinced a date can be ‘determined’ to mark the date of the death of English. But, HAT, others have hypothesized its future. For example, David Graddol has a short book (65 pages), entitled The History of English, available for free download.
    It’s an interesting read for those (especially) who think the demise of the O Sacred English language is neigh.

  22. *whinnies*

  23. Touché. That would be ‘nigh’. Hey, I do French. And these damned comment boxes don’t have a built in spellchecker!

  24. these damned comment boxes don’t have a built in spellchecker
    Which is as it should be? On a page devoted to linguistics. You would rather have your creation regurgitated by a machine, or left as you scripted it. Only the machine knows one way of writing. Adept at alternatives, the rest of us are somewhat more.

  25. Vivek Khadpekar says:

    Here in India March 31 is the last day of the financial year – the day for annual closing of accounts. With nearly 52 years to go before the date of deliverance you promise, you will be pleased to know that your linguistic legacy is thriving miscegenetically under our benign care. So while you slog it out in the EU Tower of Babel, we’ll hold it in trust. Maybe you won’t recognise it after a long estrangement, but you are wlecome to claim, whenever, what is rightfully yours. And keep the Chicken Tikka Masala too.

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