What is happening to English, and how much does it matter?

Do you care about the threat to the apostrophe? How do you feel about ‘Between you and I'? Do you twitch at sentences like 'If you'd have asked me I'd have told you'? or 'Charles is understanding French a lot better since he went to France'? Would you burst into tears if somebody said 'He was like, well, I better go home now'?

English, like all languages, is in constant flux. The talk will consider:

  • the meaning of 'correctness'
  • changes in modern English, and the various reasons for them
  • ways of keeping track of what is going on
  • how much emphasis we should give to correctness in language teaching
  • the importance (or not) of native-speaker models for learners. 

Michael Swan is a writer specialising in English Language teaching and reference materials. His OUP publications include Practical English Usage and, with Catherine Walter, How English Works and The Good Grammar Book. He is also co-author, with Catherine Walter, of the Cambridge English Course series. His most recent books are Grammar (in the 'Oxford Introductions to Language Study' series) and Grammar Scan (OUP 2008), a collection of diagnostic language tests written in collaboration with David Baker. Michael's interests include pedagogic grammar, mother-tongue influence in second language acquisition, and the relationship between applied linguistic theory and classroom language-teaching practice. He has had extensive experience with adult learners, and has worked with teachers in many countries.