Inspired by the Internet tradition of gathering and gawping at oddly odd and occasionally prescient predictions of would-be futurists, we sent our interns into the archives to dig out some of the most interesting predictions of the future of linguistics that were made in the past. Take a look!
Computers will never be able to make much of a contribution to as difficult a field as linguistics.
That Chomsky fellow writes interesting stuff but needs to be more sure of himself.
I think that, thanks to Aristotle, this linguistic logical relations thing is pretty much figured out. I mean, once you know that All men are mortal and that Socrates is a man, and that therefore, Socrates is mortal, it’s hard to see what else might be usefully achieved by any further consideration of linguistic and conceptual logical relations.
As we reflect on the sharp if not meteoric rise in attendees from the first Universala Kongreso, where a mere 688 individuals participated, to the circa 1,800 present in Antwerp this year, it seems foolhardy to believe anything other than that our beloved Iniciatinto’s Universala Lingvo is set to achieve its aims of becoming the dominant mode of expression throughout the world within a few short years, and certainly before 1920.
After my darling Sir William’s extraordinary lecture yesterday, the esteemed members of the Asiatic Society, are, to a man, in profound and total agreement that, within a few short years, every language currently spoken on God’s earth will have been connected to those others to which it is related, and most likely to Sanskrit itself, in a manner most certain, sure and scientific. Oh my darling Willie; a husband without comparison.
I think that if we construct the first level with a radius of 1,000 cubits, we should be able to reach Heaven within 20 levels.
Within the next few years Comrade Marr’s work will surely displace bourgeois Western theories of linguistics.
Not only will we destroy this treacherous king and take both his kingdom and his throne, but the Anglo-
Within 20 years, all of English shall be written in this new, more enlightened script.
I can see no reason why anyone would prefer Esperanto over Volapük.
I can’t believe how this mind-
Found after his death and translated by Jappes Onze (Duc de Suit)
I am certain that little if any further research is needed on child language acquisition or the origins of human language, and in any case current experimental methodology is unlikely to be superseded.
I can see no reason why anyone would or should continue to speak French, Spanish, Portuguese or Italian given the existence of Interlingua.
It is Canada that shall fill the 20th century, and it is Canadian orthography that shall arrest the spread of British and American spellings, much as the curb down at the Harbour Centre stops the tire of the horseless carriage.
I acknowledge that I was overconfident about the longevity of transformational grammar. But government and binding theory, it is clear now, is here to stay!
Ughgh ga-gog babagh ghaa-
So we’ve got flint knives and fire, bury our dead and hunt in groups. Communicatively, not only have we got art going, but linguistically we can do imperatives, we can describe in literal terms the visual landscape before us, and we have first person statements of attitude and emotion. As well as of course instinct-
Extract from annual report of the scientific committee of elders on the future of symbol making
Translated from bone markings by Richard Lee Key
Ido, Ido, Ido! Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!
With the continued application of advanced statistical techniques, the communicative constraints shaping language should be completely understood within a decade.
We’ll have machine translation producing better work than humans within 10 years.
OK, Hengist, I get it. I know you keep getting these vivid recurring dreams about our Saxon language one day covering the whole globe. I’m not challenging that. I’m just saying if that is what you feel is the motivation for tribes of our people to leave our homeland, why head to Britannia of all places? It’s the edge of the world, man! No language, culture or people is ever going spread anywhere from there. There’s Hibernia
These young people are destroying our language with their silly new vowel sounds. At least we have the comfort of knowing that it’s just a phase and won’t last.
With these tiny changes to bokmål and nynorsk
These changes represent the last, absolutely the last, iteration of the reforms to Dutch orthography.
Well, we won! That means, as per the bet, that the names of the days of the week will be named after Athena, Aphrodite, Loki, the stars and comets, Balder and Poseidon and not after you bunch of losers, the Sun, the Moon, Tiw and Mars, Woden and Mercury, Thor and Jove, Frigg and Saturn. Looooosers!
Part II will be in the next issue.