Interview with the famous linguist David Crystal

mai 1st, 2015

By: Rachid Filali


- You’ve written an important book about the language and the Internet, is it possible that the electronic writing such as SMS (gr8-great) threaten the future of languages?

No. It forms only a tiny part of modern usage. Also, it’s not as fashionable as it was when it first came in. Many teenagers in the UK no longer use it.

French Professor  Claude  Hagège   , confirmed that the English language has become a danger to other languages, because a lot of people want to learn the language of Shakespeare and neglect learning the national languages?

It isn’t just English. All powerful languages are a threat to smaller languages. There are endangered and extinct languages as a result of Chinese, Russian, Swahili, Arabic, French, Spanish, Portuguese… The important thing, of course, is to maintain local languages as an expression of identity alongside the learning of an international language.

- Professor David Crystal ,  In English there are many Arabic words, do you know How many of these words, and could you give us   your evaluation on the status of the Arabic language at the moment?

The Oxford English Dictionary currently has 510 words that have Arabic as part of their etymology. I’m afraid I’ve never made a sociolinguistic study of Arabic, so can say nothing about its status.

-There are researchers who say that the Arabic language is threatened with death soon, is this true?

I can’t imagine why. Arabic is a very powerful language still, unified by the Classical Arabic of the Koran.

-You are one of the largest specialists in Shakespeare, is it true that this poet has coined more than 1,700 English word, what do you think of those who claim that the poet did not write his plays, and the whole (37 plays) written by unknown authors?

Recent research suggests that the figure is much less than that - probably less than a thousand. But that is still an amazing figure.

I have no interest in the trend that began in the 19th century, and became a 20th century fad, suggesting that someone other than Shakespeare wrote the plays. All his contemporaries recognised him for who he was, and that’s good enough for me.

- Professor David Crystal, some researchers argue that Arabic is the language of literature and not the language of science and technology, in your opinion, does this analysis, reasonable and scientifically valid?

English is undoubtedly the primary language of science and technology, and has been since the 18th century. But of course other languages can talk about science just as efficiently. And many scientific terms come from Arabic anyway, such as algebra and algorithm - and of course, the numerals.

- Why do the Americans insist on spelling reforms, but the British do not want it?

There has only been one time when American English reformed its spelling, and that was through Noah Webster at the end of the 18th century, just after independence, when the new nation wanted to distance itself from Britain. No spelling reform movement has since succeeded anywhere else in the English-speaking world.

- Professor David Crystal you assume that English will be divided in the future, as has happened before to Latin, is this due to the wide spread of English in the world?

Yes. Some already talk of an English ‘family of languages’, as a result of developments such as T ok Pisin in Papua New Guinea.

- Professor David Crystal

You have a very productive scientific career, providing a valuable service to the English language, what is the secret of this great love?

The fact that languages are always changing. Whatever English is like today, it was different yesterday and will be different tomorrow. I talk about this at greater length in my autobiography, Just a Phrase I’m Going Through.





Créer un Blog | Nouveaux blogs | Top Tags | 82 articles | blog Gratuit | Abus?