Jose Carillo's Forum


This new section features links to interesting, instructive, or thought-provoking readings about the English language. The selections could be anywhere from light and humorous to serious and scholarly, and they range widely from the reading, writing, listening, and speaking disciplines to the teaching and learning of English.

Forecast: English to get more and more technologically-mediated

In “The Future Tense,” his valedictory essay as The New York Times “On Language” columnist in the the paper’s February 25, 2011 issue, Ben Zimmer makes this forecast for the English language: “One thing is clear, as I watch Blake [his 4-year-old son] make a Dr. Seuss book come alive on the family iPad with a casual swipe of the finger: Language will become more technologically mediated. The ever-expanding power and flexibility of our personal gadgets, combined with the computing prowess of servers we connect to in ‘the cloud,’ makes it a dead certainty that tech will rule the language of even the most reluctant neo-Luddite.”

Zimmer is bidding adieu after a year of writing for the column, which was handled by the legendary William Safire for over 30 years until his death in September 2009, and he devotes his last piece to articulating his thoughts on what the future holds for English.

He predicts that now and the coming years will be a heady time for English: “Every aspect of our linguistic life is open to technologization of one form or another, from the way that kids of Blake’s generation will learn to acquire literacy with the help of app-laden multitouch devices to our growing expectations that computer interfaces should be able to recognize our speech and text, understand it and talk back to us.”

Read Ben Zimmer’s “The Future Tense” in The New York Times now!

In “Why Do Writers Abandon Novels?”, an essay he wrote for The New York Times Sunday Book Review on March 6, 2011, writer Dan Kois looks into the reasons why some authors end up destroying or not finishing a particular work despite their having worked so long and hard on it. Kois reports that this happened to, among several others, such notable novelists as Michael Chabon in the case of his unfinished novel Fountain City; Stephanie Meyer in the case of Midnight Sun, an unfinished spinoff of her novel Twilight; and Saul Bellow in the case of his unfinished The Butterfly and the Crab, which he dropped altogether. Chabon, for one, offered this explanation for giving up: “A book itself threatens to kill its author repeatedly during its composition.”

Read Dan Kois’s “Why Do Writers Abandon Novels?” in The New York Times Sunday Review now!

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