[Beowulf] "Code" vs. "Codes"

Tim Cutts 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...


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