English has unarguably become the world's dominant language. And languages die out every decade. But what is the future of today's languages?
The Prodigal Tongue explores the wild, wacky, and sometimes baffling road the English language is taking in its astonishing evolution and reveals the extraordinary vernaculars of the world.
For example, did you know that the newly-minted term in Japanese for visiting Tokyo's Disneyland translates as 'flogging the mouse?' Were you aware that words now move across languages not over decades but at a cut-and-paste speed?
Beginning with the eye-popping prediction that by 2015, half of the world's population will be busy learning English or speaking it, Mark Abley turns his eagle eye on how English is roaming wild around the world, sucking in words, vacuum-cleaner style, from wherever it can get them.
Whether you're speaking it as a first language in London, or a third in Singapore, you are by necessity affected by English's breakbeat rate of change.
From hip-hop lyrics to text messages and blogs, from the effects of global and Asian English to Spanglish, the author investigates what the future is likely to hold for the ways in which we communicate.
The result is an irresistible journey around the linguistic globe, stimulating, provocative and intelligent, and constantly open to the vitality and playful invention that make languages what they are.
Evocative and thoughtful, yet always lively, this is a book for anyone who cherishes the words we use.