Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.

The Future of English





I came across this article in my great, great, great grandfather’s scrapbook and thought it worth sharing. It’s interesting to see there were those in the 18th century who realised that migrating to other countries would change the way people spoke English there, as of course it did. The librarian’s solution–to set a standard pronunciation in English schools–was never going to take off in the colonies of course! Unfortunately I don’t have a date of publication or even the name of the paper but it was clearly English and was certainly published before 1885, when my ggg–grandfather died.

future of englishHe also notes that phonetic spelling is both rational and inevitable and I tend to agree with him there–USA spelling is quite common here now and even though I prefer the English spelling I grew up with it’s not a major issue for me. As far as pronunciation goes I tend to have trouble understanding some of the British accents and I wonder if they understand each other. I’m very thankful for the text option on my TV when I watch British shows.I’d love to hear from any Brits on this subject. There seems such a range of accents; even if we leave out the Scots and the Welsh, the different accents within that tiny little country of England are amazing!

The ggg-grandfather who compiled this scrapbook came out from Manchester, in 1841, and I have no idea how he spoke, or if I’d have had any problem understanding him. His scrapbook, which was originally started by my ggg-grandmother, who ‘neglected’ it, is a window to the 19th century, most of it not relating particularly to the family, and it’s also a little peek at his personality I think; the articles he considered worth cutting out and preserving for his 3 sons and 22 grandchildren ranged from local news to world news and random jokes, along with the odd recipe. He called it his odds and ends.




BookCoverImageher fleshandbloodkarinya cover




Author: cmsgardnerblog

I'm a writer of fiction and non-fiction, for teens and adults. I live in Central Victoria, Australia and my books are available at

6 thoughts on “The Future of English

  1. What a fascinating article from so long ago! I live in the south east of England, and don’t really consider myself to have an ‘accent’ as such! But I have always wondered at how such a small nation could have so many diverse accents. I think most people here would be able to understand another, although the Geordie (Newcastle) accent is very strong and can be hard to grasp, also the Scouse (Liverpool) – although I’m sure people from there would disagree!

  2. I’m a Brit and I’ve grown up with the plethora of accents in this tiny isle. For me, however, the truly notable one is the difference between a Scouse (Liverpool) and a Manc (Manchester) accent. These cities are only 30-or-so miles from each other, but have hugely different accents – and a football rivalry of biblical proportions.

  3. In the 1950’s there was a standard English pronunciation – BBC English – though actORs would typically have exagerrated ORXfordtype accents. Political correctness came in some time after that to the effect that ‘all accents are equally valid’ so diverse accents are now encouraged with little or no emphasis on ‘correct’ pronunciation.
    Phonetic spelling was promoted by George Bernard Shaw but it did not take off. Part of the reason is that the spellings derive from the language where the words originated. (All those -ough words that are pronounced oddly are Scandinavian in origin).

  4. Yes, your ggg-grandfather’s treasured scrap of a newspaper was an interesting look back into history. However, being American, I will have to ask your forgiveness when I say I find all the English accents difficult to follow. Before anyone is offended, I really have to add an interesting conversation that took place while I was a freshman in high school many years ago.

    My English teacher grew up in England and was schooled there before moving to the U.S. and going on to college in California. But strangely, I remember one particular thing she told the class at the start of the year. She was talking about the importance of speaking correctly, and without using slang when we talked or wrote anything. She then said that the American way of speaking “English” was bastardized. And now that I am older and wiser, I believe she was correct.

    Cheers to all.

  5. Coincidentally I came across this joke about -among other things-phonetic spelling:

    The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

    As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5-year phase-in plan that would become known as “Euro-English”.

    In the first year, “s” will replace the soft “c”. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard “c” will be dropped in favour of “k”. This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.

    There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome “ph” will be replaced with “f”. This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

    In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

    Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

    Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent “e” in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

    By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing “th” with “z” and “w” with “v”.

    During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary “o” kan be dropd from vordskontaining “ou” and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensi bl riten styl.

    Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi TU understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

    Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.

    If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl.

  6. I’ve lived in both England and Ireland and noticed a vast difference in pronunciation, dialect and grammar. Notably physical grammar. People seem to forget a full stop is for! Also, I have a friend who is a copy-editor & proofreader at a publishing company. She is painfully aware of the mistakes made by many. I have another who is a proofreader and he is titters at the many mistakes made by people. Particularly sign writers.
    The problem, I think, is that our world is getting smaller. Phones, laptops, computers, tablets:they are all essential parts of our lives these days. But with them come smaller boxes with which to get as much said as possible and at the end of the day, there is no universal English dictionary. After all, there are two English ones:Oxford & Cambridge and American English is a different language of its own.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s