I propose a 100,000th question
What will English sound like in 500 years?
and mostly anything goes in answers: syntax, phonology, vocab, new and old dialects, speculation about world politics that affects language use. Yes, it is POB but we should expect some connection with reality and historical language patterns.
Here's what the question might look like:
What will English look like in 500 years?
English started off on a small island off the northwest coast of Europe in the Early Middle Ages with some German tribes swimming across the channel and killing a bunch of poor Celts. Then some Vikings killed some of them, and then some French (who had recently also been killed by Vikings) killed some of those guys. So a lot of killing happened, but as of the early third millenium it feels like things have settled down for a few hundred years.
The killing may be constant but other things never stop changing. Nominally, early modern English is dated to late 16th century, for example Shakespeare. The vocabulary and turns of phrase are only slightly different, we're used to the fancy biblical syntax and might be able to read that with study and thought, but I think it would take some time to be able to understand that speech out loud.
New patterns are adopted, old ones are slowly forgotten. Ask not what people can say in speeches, ask what your speech will say to people. Kids say things strangely these days, but then they think old people talk funny.
What do you think English will be like at the end of the next 500 years?
Consider anything: the classic linguistic areas like phonology, morphology, syntax, vocabulary, dialectology, etc, but also sociolinguistic things like how world politics or science or the internet might change things, or really anything at all.
Please attempt to be scientific. Yes, this is entirely speculative, but there are principles of language change that are clear from study of the past trends that can then be extrapolated going forward. As to future history, try to be both plausible and original (it's probably easier to do both).
OK maybe I need to edit out all the killing.
Postscript: Here it is, or rather was:
Question 100,000: What will English look like in 500 years? [on hold]
OK, that was a failed experiment. I gave some objective examples, and it got one answer that basically said there will be no English. Then closed as POB. The people who closed must not have recognized the intent of the question. I blame myself (which is code for I blame myself only the slightest and even then what others might call mistakes were legitimate alternatives).
But all this was worse than Quora, and that really stings.
Of course I wrote an answer myself, but I waited too long to post because that would have made it too obvious I did this all for myself. So these are the kind of speculations I was expecting from others:
What will English be like in 500 years?
First, sociopolitically, because that will have more effects on the actual changes rest than anything, I expect in 500 years for the UN countries to be mostly stable. There won't be a singularity, technology won't encourage changes in the language in any significant way (slang will come and go as usual), except to flatten any differences. There won't be any significant movements of populations which would create mixed societies. Basically I'm saying sci-fi has got it all wrong, they either ignore that changes will occur, or the make up weirdo patois with unlikely features.
As an aside, China will, and this is very speculative, in one hundred years (early 2100's), adopt pinyin (a roman alphabet) as official alongside traditional ideographs. This will hasten the demise of traditional Chinese writing and within 50 years no one will bother learning or writing it. These will increase the adoption of English words and quasi-English neologisms. Because of English's intellectual parochialism (and also because the Chinglish neologisms are just plain awful), these won't be adopted into mainstream English. This is all to say that there will be little adoption of Asian languages into English despite what Blade Runner or Firefly think.
Now more specifically to English, there will be fewer dialect differences and any current trends will slow down (OK that'll be the case for Spanish and Chinese too), but in 500 years some will accumulate. There will still be AmE and BrE and ScotsE and AusE, but differences within those areas will fade away entirely in 500 years. No more Scouse or Geordie or 'Estuarian', no more Texas drawl, AAVE, Spanglish.
As to space colonies (Mars, asteroids, Ganymede, etc), for possible creation of dialects by isolation,, the development and population growth there will be very slow, at most 5K off-worlders by 2250, 100K by 2500 (it just won't be that lucrative) and VR communication, even with a half-hour delay, will be so good that there really won't be any isolation. English and Chinese will be the primary languages there and there will be very little pronunciation difference from Earth. There will be some short lived slang different from Earth, but very little permanent.
So that was the sociolinguistic set-up.
Here are some specific changes that I expect will occur. I am limiting myself to American English, because I am more of the trends there, and am not sure if they apply to BrE.
- cot-caught merger everywhere - it really serves no purpose and most people have it anyway.
- lenition of intermediate t entirely: eg, water-> /war/, bottle -> /bal/, button -> /bun/
- everyone will adopt the Northern cities vowel shift. If we time-traveled we'd still be able to understand what they're saying but we'd all be really annoyed at them.
- "Y'all" will become the accepted formal 2nd person plural (I don't really think this will happen, I'm just putting it here because it should happen)
- and that's it!!!
- Because everyone will have early onset Alzheimer's because of the aluminum bomb testing in the pacific, English will become more periphrastic. Eg It will be more common to say 'I did go' instead of 'I went' and latinisms will fall out of favor to phrasal verbs. For example,
"The sun will emit a plethora of gamma radiation."
"The bright sky ball is gonna send out a shitton of scary stuff"
To distinguish thirteen/thirty through nineteen/ninety, the 'teen's will shift stress to eg thir-TEEN.
Randall Munroe's "Thing Explainer", a dictionary using only drawings and a vocabulary of the 1,000 (or "ten hundred") most common words, will become a government enforced vocabulary standard for everything. Keeps things simple for everybody. THere's no word for it, it don't exist.
I really expected that there'd be a lot more trends but that's all I got