Just think about it:
- it's extremely wide-spread for historical reasons;
- it is a somewhat random mash-up of at least three other languages;
- as much as all languages have their idiosyncrasies , it tends to have the more confusing ones.
Oh, got one more: working with dates is surprisingly awkward and confusing.
English: what does "Next Friday" mean if today is Wednesday?
@rysiek The one thing that still really gets me is -able VS -ible, e.g.
I haven't yet figured out if there is a pattern. And they are even pronounced the same!!!
@rysiek This I seem to usually get right by intuition. I guess because I have lived in native English countries for a while...
The other thing is something I realised quite late and you only think about it when having to write these words down.
Yes, I had suspected it would i/e-conjugation vs a-conjugation and if I can find the word in another language I know (with proper grammar), I can use that to figure it out.
@rysiek every time you start worrying about this think of the phrase "Lingua Franca". Already feels better, right?
@rysiek @ulva69 Same in German: "This Friday" (diesen Freitag) would be the Friday later in the current week, while "next Friday" (nächster Freitag) will likely be the one in the following week. Though details are possibly dependant on where you are, and the local dialect.
"This coming Friday" (kommender Freitag) and "Friday next week" (Freitag nächste Woche) would be the safer variants.
- If you block English in your browser, the Internet seems like a somewhat empty place.
Though, more seriously, I'll add with my linguist-hat on, in terms of its linguistic properties, English isn't particularly weirder or more idiosyncratic than any other language. (Orthography aside, which isn't itself language but a language "add-on".)
@emacsomancer ah now you're cherry-picking.
The fact that one cannot reasonably clearly think about how a word is spoken based on how it's written (or vice-versa) is a huge deal. And I am ready to die on that hill! 😉
@rysiek Most of the history of human language, there has not been written language, and this is still true for numerous languages. Orthography is very clearly a separate system which is not, itself, language.
Though it's certainly true that orthography has very real psychological effects on literate speakers. (Spelling pronunciations being but one minor example.)
@emacsomancer don't take this away from me, man. This orthography thing is my coping strategy for when English really annoys me. I need this.
@rysiek Modern English orthography is a mess, for a variety of reasons. Old English spelling is a bit more sensible, and at least was flexible enough to come up with symbols for non-Latin sounds (þ, ð). Norman scribes messed this up for English, though I hear that there's a place somewhere that is smart enough to have kept some of these characters around for orthographic purposes ;)
@emacsomancer as a resident of Iceland, I feel I now need to research where þorn and Eth showed up first.
I feel I might be up for a disappointment.
@rysiek My memory is that the Romanised use of þ and ð was spread by English missionaries, but I don't have a source on hand.
(Old English is also cool is retaining the use of runes as "abbreviations" for words, e.g. using the wynn rune ᚹ for "wynn" = "joy".)
A lot depends on which language a word was borrowed from, and when. For instance; "chief" and "chef" both have the same french word as their root, but they entered English more than a century apart. During that time the pronunciation of "ch" in French changed.
As one of my English teachers used to say; "English doesn't borrow from other languages. English follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them out, then goes through their pockets for loose grammar."
on the origin of the quote, see: https://www.paulingraham.com/loose-grammar.html
on the general topic: part of the oddity of English spelling is that words from (esp. other European languages) tend to be borrowed with and retain their original spelling (modulo accents etc. in many cases).
On the quote, I'll note that English isn't actually particularly unique here, nor even an extreme.
Hindi/Urdu is a voracious borrower too, with heaps of Perso-Arabic vocabulary.
Albanian's vocabulary is more than 90% borrowings.
And Armenian retains only about 1,500 words from Classical Armenian, the rest being borrowed vocabulary
> When does borrowing become a relationship?
Never, at least in the sense of a genetic relationship. But enough borrowing obscures relationships.
Also, contact can make languages converge w.r.t. certain features. But that's not the same thing as a genetic relationship, which encodes something about the origins of the languages.
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