The Last Lingua Franca: English Until the Return of Babel

Here’s an argument (actually, this review is a critique of an argument) that technology can remove the need for language learning while saving endangered languages from extinction:

Ostler has faith in a virtual system, which he claims will revolutionize global communications, and make foreign language learning a thing of the past. . . . Google Translate, Babel Fish, and Microsoft’s Bing Translator all offer instant, automatic translation across a range of languages, and are constantly expanding their services. The results are often riddled with mistakes, sometimes amusingly. But Ostler believes that improvements in the technology will eventually “remove the requirement for a human intermediary to interpret or translate.” Printed texts and recorded speeches will be accessible to anyone with the right software as “virtual media.”

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Author: Derrick Pitard

I teach medieval and early modern literature, the history of the language, introductions to literature, Latin, and writing at Slippery Rock University.

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