[Beowulf] "Code" vs. "Codes"
tjrc at sanger.ac.uk
Tue Apr 1 02:35:31 PDT 2008
There's an interesting article on the evolution of English in this
week's New Scientist, which addresses some of these very
observations. Their contention is that because English is now a
global language with a very large number of non-native speakers, it's
regularising quite rapidly, and the appearance of "regular" plurals
like "e-mails" is just such an example. Apparently words like "sugar"
are called "mass nouns" -- as opposed to countable nouns -- and it's
quite an awkward concept even for native English speakers to get
right. How often do you hear someone say "less people" rather than
the strictly correct "fewer people"?. I suspect the distinction is
gradually disappearing from the language.
The article goes on to suggest that one possible evolutionary path
English might follow is similar to what happened to Latin in the early
middle ages. Once the major political power using Latin had
disappeared, the language rapidly fragmented into today's romance
languages. The same could easily happen to English, once the global
dominant power shifts to asia, which many people seem to think is
Anyway, back to Beowulf...
The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is operated by Genome Research
Limited, a charity registered in England with number 1021457 and a
company registered in England with number 2742969, whose registered
office is 215 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE.
More information about the Beowulf