David Graddol

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David Graddol
United Kingdom
Died1 March 2019 (aged 65–66)

David Graddol (1953 - 1 March 2019) was a British linguist[1] who worked in applied linguistics, discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, and history of linguistics. He died on 1 March 2019.[2]

Research interest[edit]

He was perhaps best known for his 1997 book The future of English?, published by the British Council, in which he offers scenarios for how English as a world language may develop. Most notably, he pointed out that native speakers of English were or would soon be outnumbered by those who speak English as a second or foreign language. In an article that focuses more specifically on this issue, he stated the following:

The decline of the native speaker in numerical terms is likely to be associated with changing ideas about the centrality of the native speaker to norms of usage. [...] Large numbers of people will learn English as a foreign language in the 21st century and they will need teachers, dictionaries and grammar books. But will they continue to look towards the native speaker for authoritative norms of usage?

— "The decline of the native speaker", pages 67-68

Graddol's views about English as a world language are similar to, though not identical with, those held by his linguist colleague David Crystal.


He graduated from the University of York with a BA in Language and Linguistics in 1975, also in Sociology in 1983.[3] He earned his PhD from the University of Stockholm.

Personal life[edit]

He married Margaret Keeton and they have had triplet daughters.


  1. ^ Spoken everywhere but at what cost? The Guardian 20 April 2005
  2. ^ "David Graddol RIP - BAAL".
  3. ^ "The Future of English". Grapevine. Alumni Office, University of York (Spring/Summer 1998): 20.

Works (selected)[edit]

  • Graddol, David (1997). The future of English? A guide to forecasting the popularity of the English language in the 21st century. London: British Council. Available for free from the website of the British Council [1].
  • Graddol, David (1999). The decline of the native speaker. In Graddol, David/Meinhof, Ulrike (eds.). English in a Changing World. AILA Review 13, 57–68.
  • Graddol, David (2006). English Next. London: British Council. Available for free from the website of the British Council [2].