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Saturday, July 03, 2004


Your grandkids won't speak English (or any other language we know)

Okay folks, stay with me here. Assume that nanotech is going to merge with biotech in the near future and bring about a kind of 'evolution' that will completely alter what it means to be human. Or, scoff at the whole notion and be amused at the ramblings of a sick mind. Nanotech will allow us to build or install thousands of tiny computers in our bodies, all about the size of a grain of salt, many of them dedicated to augmenting our brains. Math processors, all kinds of sensory enhancers, memory storage (recite 'Paradise Lost' and impress nobody) and lots of general purpose machines. People will quickly adapt some of the machines to store non-native languages - lots of them, sound and script. It'll start with military and business users loading up languages relevant to their needs. Soon after, teens will start loading up obscure languages to impress their peers. The more obscure the better of course. (The big 'if' is the machine/brain interface and how smoothly the two integrate. This opens up all kinds of issues that are beyond the scope of this speculation, or my capabilities really.) So anyway, these teens start racing each other to acquire languages and integrate enough of them into their daily speech to baffle their elders and impress girls. Words, literary allusions , changes in syntax and conjugation across species - it'll be a goddamn mess. And once it starts it will very quickly lead to the birth of a new world language utterly unpredictable and unrecognizable to any one of us today. But, it'll work and it'll be fun and while every language that's living at the time will be saved they'll also be left behind - every one of them.

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