English is the JavaScript of spoken languages.

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.


- 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. :sad_but_cool:

@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".)

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