The March 29 article is online now. I don’t have a subscription so I am not able to read the entire article, but this fellow in another message board was kind enough to reproduce the entire article: http://www.physforum.com/index.php?s=0b32578451f6811fb89ad20cd5f7e11b&showtopic=21007&st=0&#e;ntry326913 .
Now that I’ve read it a confession is in order. Missing the big picture entirely, my interest is focused on the two ideas below.
English may follow the path not of Latin but of Arabic, a language that was spread with Islam over 500 years and evolved into multiple local dialects, the speakers of which all feel united by the literary Arabic of the Koran. What may keep the world of English from dissolving entirely into mutual unintelligibility is scientific and technical writing, as well as worldwide media.
Erez Lieberman, an evolutionary mathematician at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, compiled a list of 177 irregular English verbs from Old, Middle and Modern English, and estimated their frequency in everyday speech. He found that the less common a verb, the sooner it regularises. In other words, irregular verbs that get used a lot remain irregular (in fact, the 10 most common English verbs are irregular - be, have, do, go, say, can, will, see, take and get). As Lieberman puts it: “The half-life of irregular verbs is proportional to the square root of their frequency.”