Evolving English shows very clearly that there is no single story of the English language. David Crystal explores aspects of its evolution. Introduced by Roger Walshe. From the Evolving English exhibition at the British Library.
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For decades, Brits have complained about American contamination of British English. More recently, the reverse has been taking place: British expressions are elbowing their way into American speech. So far, Americans don’t seem to mind.
Listen above for a conversation with two people who closely follow these lexical exchanges: Lynne Murphy at the University of Sussex and author of the Separated by a Common Language blog; and Ben Yagoda at the University of Delaware and author of the Not One-Off Britishisms blog.
Robert McCrum is the associate editor of The Observer (London) and co-author of the bestseller The Story of English, a history of the English language, that went on to be adapted into an Emmy Award-winning nine-part PBS television series. He is the author of six works of fiction, including In the Secret State and Mainland. Among his nonfiction books are the acclaimed biography Wodehouse: A Life and the memoir My Year Off: Recovering Life after a Stroke. In Globish, McCrum argues, "that a seismic shift in the foundations of our lingua franca has transformed [British and American English] from an expression of Anglo-American cultural sovereignty into a supra-national phenomenon, with its own powerful inner dynamic." (recorded 6/10/2010)
Linguists have relatively new tools to analyze the tiniest changes in language. Weekend Edition Sunday host Linda Wertheimer speaks with linguist Arika Okrent about the subtle ways the English language is changing.