A few weeks ago I gave a talk at the Toronto Reference Library as part of an excellent series called Treehouse Talks. It was a lovely event, attended by about 100 people and held in the spectacular 5-story atrium of the library. I gave an updated version of the talk that I call Know Your Media Know Your Self, which was a little nerve-wracking because I had to memorize a lot of new material. But it went well, and happily, it was videotaped by Ingrid Yuen, who provided me with this excerpt. (Thanks Ingrid!) It’s only a taste of the full lecture (even the Treehouse Talk was abridged), which goes on to explain how the media we use to work and play shape our personalities, our professions and even our relationships. But hopefully you find it illuminating nonetheless…feel free to share it it:
It sounds like it was a very interesting talk. As an EFL teacher, I had the privilege of a attending a panel by an editor of CENGAGE Learning. He spoke to us of this phasing out of the old, ancient dialects and of the plans to push English not as a foreign or second language anymore, but as Lingua Franca.
“A lingua franca (or working language, bridge language, vehicular language) is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.”
Put simply, lingua franca means that English will become the universal dialect of our next generation, a second set of verbal, non-verbal and written communication skills meant to connect even the most culturally dissonant cultures. This means that people from Mexico and Portugal will communicate in English, just like people from France and Japan or Germany and Argentina. This change will of course contribute further to the disappearance of those old languages.