An Oxford University academic claims that a dialect of English heavily influenced by the speech of London’s growing immigrant population will become the dominant dialect in the UK within the next 100 years.
Multicultural London English has already been reported as becoming dominant in the UK capital, eclipsing alternative dialects such as the once-dominant Cockney accent or the traditional professional voice of ‘Received Pronunciation’ (RP).
MLE — a dialect heavily influenced by Jamaican immigrants as well as arrivals from the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent — is likely to become dominant due to its influential cultural position at the heart of many migrant-dominated British cities.
The dialect is widely used on social media and in cultural touchstones popular among the country’s youth, such as the ‘Grime’ genre of music, which helps it spread its influence to children.
“London, being the economic and cultural centre, drives these changes. We have seen that across the last hundred years, and we will see that across the next 100 years,” the publication reports Prof Matt Gardner of Oxford University as saying.
“What we will likely see is this multiethnolect [a dialect built upon the influence of multiple ethnic groups] spread geographically close to London, in the south-east, but also in other major cities, and then outwards from those cultural centres,” he continued.
As a result, certain MLE terms, such as “wasteman” — meaning someone who does little of note or worth — or “ching,” which means stab, may become common throughout the United Kingdom.
Even so, researchers believe that grammar — rather than vocabulary — will become more widely used, with individual linguistic terms more susceptible to seismic fluctuations in popularity than the structure of the spoken and written word.
Dropping prepositions in certain sentences — for example, “I went to the bank” becomes “I went bank” — and regularising the past tense to use “was” — for example, “we were eating” becomes “we were eating.”
This destabilisation of long-established grammatical norms is already widespread in places like London, but it has yet to spread elsewhere, despite the efforts of those determined to accelerate the process.
MLE’s rise coincides with the decline of other major dialects in London, most notably the Cockney accent, which is often associated with the British capital.
Some academics and activists still argue that grammar is racist because it discriminates.