by John Ayto.
John Ayto is a lexicographer and writer on language. His books include Twentieth-Century Words, the Oxford Dictionary of Slang, and the Bloomsbury Dictionary of Word Origins. He edited the seventeenth edition of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, English was still recognizably a single homogeneous language, albeit one with a major distinctive variety, in North America, whose speakers now outnumbered those of its British parent. By the time the century came to an end, it had proliferated and diversified to such an extent that it was no longer realistic to talk of ‘the English language’. There are now many Englishes.
Click the links below to find out more about:
Converging varieties of English in the twentieth century
Varieties of English seem to have converged over the 20th century: how, and why?
Descriptivists vs prescriptivists in the twentieth century
Do recent developments in English ever irk you? We look at modern descriptivism and prescriptivism.
New vocabulary in the twentieth century
A lot can change in 100 years: take a look at what happened to English vocabulary over the 20th century and learn how many new words were added to the OED.
One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
In this article we explore how to impress employers with a spot-on CV.