HOW VIKING GROWNUPS CREATED ENGLISH. John McWhorter’s predictions about the changes in the world’s languages are based on McWhorter’s ideas that I posted on here five years ago. McWhorter says that languages become simpler when there are large groups of adults who are learning a second language. In the Wall Street Journal article that I linked to yesterday, he gives the example of the Vikings in the eighth century that settled in England. Their children wound up learning the “broken” Old English that their parents had learned. The next generations grew up speaking a language with a much simplified grammar. There had previously been three genders and five cases in Old English. Another development was that after the Vikings arrived, English became one of the few European languages in which inanimate objects do not have a gender.

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