Peculiarities of the english LanguageEnglish language was born in England. Throughout the history it has spread all around the world. Being the main communication language used for international business and diplomacy, it soon became one of the most widely spoken languages around the world. Politics, sciences, business, one by one all the fields of knowledge have been “conquered” by english language. It is this reality that motivates thousands of people to learn how to use it, mostly in order to have the chance to communicate with nationalities around the world and stand better chances in the job market.
english is a mixture of several languages. It contains several words of the Anglo-Saxon dialect spoken in ancient England. It has absorbed thousands of words from many other languages such as french, Latin, German, greek and so on. One can find even Sanskrit words in english. For example, Sanskrit words Guru and Pundit are used frequently in english. Original pronunciation and original meaning of many words have changed in english.
This continuous change and use of the language has made it necessary to spot and record its peculiarities in a way that it is easier to teach. We will try to record these peculiarities in every one of its aspects.
english grammar is fairly simple. Nouns do not have grammatical genders, as in many other languages. It is therefore a lot easier to learn and apply. The adjective “new” for instance is used with all nouns such as book, day, boyfriend, wife, things, information, etc, regardless of gender and singular or plural forms.
Counting is also simple in english language. For example, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, etc forms a series. The next one is thirty-one, thirty-two, twenty-three etc. In other languages, numbers are unrelated and have to be memorized.
One of the peculiar things about the english language is spelling. There are differences in spelling between American english and British english. For example the word color is spelled colour in British english. There are similar differences in pronunciation as well. The pronunciation of “either” for example can be different.
Another peculiarity of english language is the use of phrasal verbs. This combination of verb and adverb which gives a completely new meaning to the produced word gives a lot of trouble to both non- native and native learners. Moreover, most of the time the phrasal verbs hold more than one meaning. It is then necessary to reckon the context the word is being used in.
Another peculiarity is the verb “to do”. In many languages the verb “to do” and “to make” have the same meaning. In english they are different, which means that sometimes phrases like “Do you speak english?” can cause problems to non native
When it comes to spelling and pronunciation, there are lots of cases these two are completely unmatched. Here are few examples:
If the plural of box is boxes, why can’t the plural of ox be oxes?
If the plural of mouse is mice why can’t the plural of house be hice?
If the plural of hoof is hooves why can’t the plural of roof be rooves?
We speak of brother and also of brethren, but though we say mother, we never say methren.
If ‘i’ comes before an ‘e’ except after a ‘c’ – how do you account for words like ‘seize’?
There are words with different meanings that are:-
Pronounced the same but spelled differently –
Eg:- (“there”, “their”); (“whole”, “hole”)
Spelled the same but pronounced differently.
The row started because the prisoners stood in a row.
Why does he refuse to throw the refuse?
Groups of the same letters in the same order are pronounced in many different ways. Take the oddity (o-u-g-h) in:-
(c-o-u-g-h); (d-o-u-g-h); (t-h-r-o-u-g-h); (b-o-u-g-h).
In conclusion, english language like every other one has its own peculiarities. It is important to be able to spot them and teach them in a way that is rather entertaining than frustrating. Using poems, funny quotes and stories is one of the lightest ways to introduce new learners to them. After all, it is people who influence the form of the language and people can at times be a bit “peculiar”.
MN Gogate’s lecture: www.mngogate.com/e01.htm
Wikipedia: History of England and History of the english Language
TESOL Articles on the Peculiarities of the english language