Reinventing English

Seth Lerer – University of California at San Diego

The English Language is changing at a faster rate than almost ever before. Not only are new words and new expressions entering popular expression; the language is becoming more evocative and idiomatic. Digital technologies have changed the way we write and read. Global media has helped make English into a world language — but a world language with many different social, regional, and cultural variations. 

Should English be an official language; what standards to we use in public discourse; what happens when cultures come together and introduce new words; what role does technology have in language change? These are all questions that, in one form or another, have been asked for a thousand years — ever since the Anglo-Saxons first committed “English” into writing and created poetry and prose of power and imagination. English has always been Re-Invented by everyone who speaks and writes it. In this course, we will search for ways of anticipating future changes to the language and prepare for a world in which English will be Re-Invented before our eyes and ears.