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Empirical evidence shows that the rate of irregular usage of English verbs exhibits discontinuity as a function of their frequency: the most frequent verbs tend to be totally irregular. Published 9 january 2015 on Physical Review E, General three-state model with biased population replacement: Analytical solution and application to language dynamics  is co-authored by ISI Research Leader Vittorio Loreto and ISI Researcher Francesca Tria. General three-state model with biased population replacement: Analytical solution and application to language dynamics  (Physical Review E, 9 january 2005), Francesca Colaiori, Claudio Castellano, Christine F. One of the most remarkable functions of the human cortex is the generation and comprehension of language. February 21st is UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day, which is intended to “encourage people to maintain their knowledge of their mother language while learning and using more than one language”. I’m not sure if there are still places where people are banned by law from using their first language.
As the current lingua franca of science, business, IT, and higher education, English finds itself at the centre of this debate.
The ELF (English as a Lingua Franca) movement could be seen as a response to the growing dominance of English in global communication.
In a follow-up to this post next week, Lars Trap-Jensen will give his perspective as a speaker of Danish.
For more blog posts in this series discussing the dominance of English, or English as a lingua franca, please see this page. Nowadays is Catalan which is imposed to Spanish speakers here in Catalonia (very much like French in Quebec),please remember that.
So the reason people do one set of performative acts rather than another is their usefulness.
It’s more useful not because of any inherent superiority but simply because its more widespread than any other language, and particularly so among the urbanized and affluent.


In this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. Our latest guest post is by Jill Wolvaardt, the Executive Director of the Dictionary Unit for South African English. A new scientific research aims to qualitatively understand the origin of this feature, by studying simple agent-based models of language dynamics, where each agent adopts an inflectional state for a verb and may change it upon interaction with other agents. In the paper, researchers suggest a three-state model: along with agents adopting a R-state (they use regular form a verb) or a I-state (using irregual form), they introduce a M-state, wherein agents may use either form. The researchers proposed several different rules for these interactions and computed analytically how the population evolved over time. This annual event was established to commemorate a protest march at the University of Dhaka (in what is now Bangladesh, but was then in the eastern part of Pakistan) on 21st February 1952. In Spain during the Franco era, the government tried to impose Spanish (Castilian) on the people of Catalunya, and banned the use of Catalan in public institutions. But language shift – “the process whereby a speech community … shifts to speaking another language” – continues in more subtle ways. ELF doesn’t get a very good press in Paul Emmerson’s post on the subject, but the ELFers make a good point when they advise “native-speakers” to avoid culturally-loaded words and expressions which are likely to be unfamiliar to many of the people they’re dealing with. English is widely used in Denmark – so what is the status of the country’s own language? Bill Bryson recounts a story (apparently true) about American Educators being concerned that fewer students, each year, were taking foreign language courses, or bothering to learn a second language. The results for the three-state model, although discussed in terms of language dynamics, are widely applicable. The government of Pakistan had tried to impose Urdu as the sole national language: Urdu was, and is, the dominant language of (West) Pakistan, but in the eastern part, the great majority had Bengali as their mother tongue.


In Austria, for example, applications for official funding of scientific research programmes have to be submitted in English: the researchers may all be German-speakers, but the experts who review the proposal probably won’t be.
But as Emmerson says, this recommendation pre-dates the arrival of the ELF lobby, and it’s really an argument for the importance of intercultural competence.
Congress was asked to support a Bill to provide large amounts of money (millions) to invest in American colleges to encourage language studies.
In DRC, for example, most of the country’s languages are banned from formal education Some language communities have developed their language and want to use it in primary school in spit of this ban, but the efforts are still considered illegal by the authorities who resist them.
In colonial Ireland, for example, the indigenous Irish language was systematically suppressed and – for most of the 19th century – it was banned in primary schools. Similarly, the most prestigious journals, where academics need to publish their research in order to disseminate their ideas (and progress in their careers), tend increasingly to be in English. In a recent lecture, available here, David Crystal focussed on this topic, and showed – with several entertaining examples – how a person can be fluent in English but might nevertheless be mystified by the cultural assumptions made by other speakers in a conversation. One could cite many other cases of government policy that is quite hostile to language without actually banning it. It wasn’t until the “Gaelic revival” of the late 19th century that the steep decline in the use of the Irish language began to be reversed. Alongside these trends, we see a gradual increase in English-medium programmes of study in many universities outside the English-speaking world (if that expression still makes any sense). Successful communication, in other words, depends not only on language skills but on an understanding of other people’s cultures.



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