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A Question About The English Language


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#1 RainMan

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 12:22 PM

Roughly 950 million people speak English in the world making it the predominant language spoken world-wide. They say that English is the hardest language to learn because of all the different variations in most of the words. Aside from the fact that business people kind of need to learn English in order to stay relevant in a global economy, what makes people want to learn the hardest language in the world?


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#2 Buffy

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 12:33 PM

Culture.

 

Between movies and music, the US and UK completely dominate popular culture. It is not only the French that complain about this. The Imam's in the mosques rail about the general evil of western culture (read US) even while their flock--secretly in some Islamic states--is one of the biggest consumers of it.

 

The Chinese complain about it too, but it's pure nationalistic propaganda, because the Army and other enterprises makes tons of money selling bootlegs around the world.

 

Ninety percent of everything is crap, :phones:

Buffy


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#3 Gregb

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 01:35 PM

Roughly 950 million people speak English in the world making it the predominant language spoken world-wide. They say that English is the hardest language to learn because of all the different variations in most of the words. Aside from the fact that business people kind of need to learn English in order to stay relevant in a global economy, what makes people want to learn the hardest language in the world?

Economy. The english speaking countries have been the most powerful in the last 100 years. If businesses want to make money, they better learn english. It wasn't always this way. French was the most powerful language 200 so years ago. These things can change and will as powers shift. In 100 years you may be learning Mandarin. 


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#4 pljames

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 03:50 PM

I love my native language, but I hate it's grammer. I could care less about it's verbs and nouns, but it does have to have sentence structuring. I am retarded with it's grammer and they do have special editors for single and multiple editors for editing the whole subject. I wonder if others in the world have the same problem I do?  Paul



#5 sman

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 07:29 PM

English, it turns out, is very easy to learn, compared with other languages. The explanation for this lies in the very complicated business of Language Contact Dynamics. Basically, post-Roman West-German speaking people found themselves having to communicate with Welsh, Scandinavian, Norse, and Latin speakers and so stripped their language of most of the inflection, umlaut (variations in the words) and other grammar until it could be used with foreign speakers something like a pidgin.

So, while culture and economy are both surely reasons that so many people speak English today, I think the reason it reached the critical mass needed for those things to have effect is - at least in part - the comparative ease with which foreign speakers are able to pick it up.
 

Most languages spoken by a few thousand people are so complicated they make your head swim; a Siberian yak herder's language is much more complicated than a Manhattan bond trader's. ~John McWhorter


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#6 RainMan

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 02:14 PM

Basically, post-Roman West-German speaking people found themselves having to communicate with Welsh, Scandinavian, Norse, and Latin speakers and so stripped their language of most of the inflection, umlaut (variations in the words) and other grammar until it could be used with foreign speakers something like a pidgin.
 

 

I think that might explain it. The English language has been getting watered down through the years. Read textbooks written 100 years ago for example. The rising population of the world mixed with the need of that growing population needing to learn this language created the linguistic version of supply and demand. The world demands the English language so we supply a simple version of it to accommodate them.


Edited by RainMan, 27 March 2014 - 02:16 PM.


#7 Turtle

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 04:03 PM

I think that might explain it. The English language has been getting watered down through the years. Read textbooks written 100 years ago for example. The rising population of the world mixed with the need of that growing population needing to learn this language created the linguistic version of supply and demand. The world demands the English language so we supply a simple version of it to accommodate them.


What do you mean by 'simple' version? You seem to have a tone of denegration there. English changes as do all living languages and it's up to individual writers/speakers to use it as they will. The purpose of language is after-all to communicate, not decorate, and the flowery English of 100 years ago added little to nothing to communication.

If you want a simple guide to straightforward writing, I suggest Strunk & White's Elements of Style. I just bought a new copy a couple weeks ago as luck has it; I was needing a brush-up on comma usage and my last copy succumbed to accidental burnage. :read:


Edited by Turtle, 27 March 2014 - 04:03 PM.


#8 arissa

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 06:41 AM

Deep down I think some people just really like a challenege. When someone tells you you can not do something are you just going to give up or are you going to prove them wrong?



#9 RainMan

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 09:10 AM

What do you mean by 'simple' version? You seem to have a tone of denegration there. English changes as do all living languages and it's up to individual writers/speakers to use it as they will. The purpose of language is after-all to communicate, not decorate, and the flowery English of 100 years ago added little to nothing to communication.

If you want a simple guide to straightforward writing, I suggest Strunk & White's Elements of Style. I just bought a new copy a couple weeks ago as luck has it; I was needing a brush-up on comma usage and my last copy succumbed to accidental burnage. :read:

 

I wasn't putting anyone down. Instead of saying "simple" version maybe I should have said "practical". What you consider to be "flowery" language I consider as the choice of words adding "flavor" to the language. In this day and age, it seems, people are abbreviating the language more to suit the rush and hurry lifestyle that more people consider necessary. As you said, languages change over time and I believe they do that in order to necessitate changing lifestyles. I come at all this from the angle of someone who learned more of the English language, my native language, in order to write poetry and lyrics better, and I didn't do this in school.

 

http://blog.oxforddi...-words-in-1912/

 

Arissa......time is short right now (rush and hurry) so I'll respond tomorrow.



#10 Turtle

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 01:17 PM

What do you mean by 'simple' version? You seem to have a tone of denegration there. English changes as do all living languages and it's up to individual writers/speakers to use it as they will. The purpose of language is after-all to communicate, not decorate, and the flowery English of 100 years ago added little to nothing to communication.

If you want a simple guide to straightforward writing, I suggest Strunk & White's Elements of Style. I just bought a new copy a couple weeks ago as luck has it; I was needing a brush-up on comma usage and my last copy succumbed to accidental burnage. :read:

I wasn't putting anyone down. Instead of saying "simple" version maybe I should have said "practical". What you consider to be "flowery" language I consider as the choice of words adding "flavor" to the language. In this day and age, it seems, people are abbreviating the language more to suit the rush and hurry lifestyle that more people consider necessary. As you said, languages change over time and I believe they do that in order to necessitate changing lifestyles. I come at all this from the angle of someone who learned more of the English language, my native language, in order to write poetry and lyrics better, and I didn't do this in school.
 
http://blog.oxforddi...-words-in-1912/
 
snip...


Agreed on abbr.. And don't get me wrong; I love arcane if not flowery words. While many words may be forgotten, they are not lost and a determined poet, lyricist, or wordsmith will out them. You may enjoy this long-running thread of great words. >> http://www.sciencefo...t-words/page-97 Or this corner of quatrains. >> http://www.sciencefo...corner/page-191 Words o'plenty for the literati. :read:

#11 pljames

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 05:07 PM

Rainman,

 Excellently said. Paul



#12 plantoid

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Posted 29 March 2014 - 06:50 AM

Being an English man .. This is a kind of tongue in the cheek and offering you two fingers , ( The index & the middle finger )  in a " Vee"  facin. towards you  guys & gals sort of reply .

 

 

I'm sure you'll all understand it  by the time you either mouse to another thread or work your way through to the bitter end  of my post

 

 Humour is one of the biggest attributes of our language along with laughing at ourselves ,  this goes well with most other language users who are too afraid to laugh & smile at their own failings .

   

English is not that difficult if you just stick to the American or other globally evolved versions  of it there are far less words but it does become kind of dull and limited

.

Though  it can get intriguing / amusing /confusing  when we use puns as in " I helped my uncle jack off a horse "  when one omits commas and capitalisation

 

It could have been better put as " I helped my uncle Jack  off a horse "   or " I helped my Uncle jack off a horse "

 

To stop the abbiguity we have so called learned professors  ( a.k.a. educational derelicts ) who sit on their butts polishing chairs and bickering as to the correct way of saying  , " I helped my Uncle Jack get off a horse " .

 

 Ours is a very structured language with bases in many other languages so we find we have 300 , 000 or so words in out language , many of them being verbs & nouns from all around the world . 

 

I think it's stated in several places  , that approximately 36 million out of the 70 million or so population  (recent generations of  illegals included )  who currently  live in the UK are not of the British isles stock for longer than 300 years . My own  heritage origin is Russian, Norwegian ,Jewish ,German, French Huguenot and  a Yorkshire man ( though not in that order ) .

 

 .Above all our " Oxford language "  has had the piss taken out of it so much by the people who were never taught the OXFORD language , that people around the world kind of like us for poking fun and a midddle finger at those pompous officious twats that alway use it as a way of trying to point out that others are of a lesser social level ..

 

We have a living language that is alway willing to bring in a few new words andwhilst at the same time retains older ones that have a very similar meaning



#13 RainMan

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Posted 31 March 2014 - 10:58 AM

Deep down I think some people just really like a challenege. When someone tells you you can not do something are you just going to give up or are you going to prove them wrong?

 

That's a good point that I hadn't considered. It's good to know there are people who view education as a challenge that they don't want to not take. I know that's kind of like a double negative, but I'm still on my first cup of coffee.  :embarass:



#14 Kahlil

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 09:08 PM

I used to teach English as Foreign Language, and my students wanted to learn the language primarily because they needed it to thrive in a global economy where English is the chief tool for communication. They wanted to do business or study internationally, and for them to be able to do that, they had to be very familiar with the English language and all its quirks. 


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#15 Elisa

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Posted 04 May 2014 - 12:21 AM

I used to teach English as Foreign Language, and my students wanted to learn the language primarily because they needed it to thrive in a global economy where English is the chief tool for communication. They wanted to do business or study internationally, and for them to be able to do that, they had to be very familiar with the English language and all its quirks. 

 

I also have taught ESL and the primary consideration is business. Most of my students were University students in Medical or Law school and English was a requirement for their graduation. Not even touching on the subject of the bastardization of English by children who have grown up using text and chat communication, "living" languages will change over time and those who are highly educated (not necessarily in University) may choose to utilize the language however they choose. It's a beautiful thing.



#16 sanctus

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 06:32 AM

Roughly 950 million people speak English in the world making it the predominant language spoken world-wide. They say that English is the hardest language to learn because of all the different variations in most of the words. Aside from the fact that business people kind of need to learn English in order to stay relevant in a global economy, what makes people want to learn the hardest language in the world?

 

I just wonder who says that English is the hardest language to learn. Any sources? And how does it depend on the other language(s) you know?
Personally I learned 4 languages to my English level or higher, and I do not think English was harder than the other (=Italian, French, Norwegian with initially swiss-German as background). I tried to learn polish and that IS a hard language. English has no cases, few verb tenses, verbs do not change based on pronoun (I think it is pronoun I mean I,you,he/she/it, etc...) unless some "s" for the third person plus a few exceptions.

 

What I might agree on is, that English is very easy til a given level (around mine), from which it gets exponentially difficult. I notice it always when talking to someone from the UK who cares about the language. They use words I know or deduce the meaning of, but I would never use. Last example of this I remember is the use of "underwhelmed", very easy to deduce what it means but I would never have thought about using it or even its existence.


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#17 Chacmool

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 09:04 AM

I just wonder who says that English is the hardest language to learn. Any sources? And how does it depend on the other language(s) you know?

 

Exactly - I think "hardest" will depend on your point of view. English is classified as a Germanic language, and someone who already knows another Germanic language (like Dutch or Icelandic) will probably find it easier to learn English than someone who only knows a Slavic language (like Polish or Bulgarian).


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