According to an article in The Telegraph, English will eventually die out and be replaced by ‘machine translation‘. But what does this mean?

At the Telegraph Hay Festival, leading linguist Nicolas Ostler declared that English will follow the same fate as Sanskrit, Persian, Greek and Latin, and die out. But unlike these previous ‘lingua francas’, or dominant world languages, English will not be replaced. Instead, he proposes that the increasing familiarity with machine translation, on computers and mobile devices, means humans will no longer need a dominant world language.

Although the languages of emerging economies such as China, Russia and Brazil might seem likely candidates to replace English when it finally does die out, this does not mean that humans will need to speak those languages to do business successfully. Dr Ostler, Chairman of the Foundation for Endangered Languages, believes that machine translation on devices such as Siri and other smartphone applications makes it easy to translate speech and written documents often in real-time.

Dr. Ostler said: “The most plausible future for English is it will continue to be spoken as a mother tongue (in English-speaking nations) but its position as lingua franca will be overtaken by technology as more and more people live their lives electronically.”

Do you agree with Dr. Ostler? Do you think machine translation will eventually take over English as the dominant mode of communication?