Wow, what an articulated perspective of the English language
Comment by Gabe Puratekuta — August 8, 2008 @ 6:04 am
To be precise, English is the most complicated and expansive language currently existing. We have more words in our language than any other language on earth. English is frequently employed as a Lingua Franca for communication between people of differing dialects because basically everyone on earth knows it. In technical fields people frequently speak in english even when they share a birth language because it’s so much better equipped. The only reason that it isn’t the most used language is because half the world only knows Chinese.
To go even further with that, our language also happens to be one of the hardest to learn. You’re lucky to have grown up with it. Our language features numerous exceptions, odd pronunciations, strange grammatical rules, and words imported from other languages (there’s a reason english has so many words, partly because it steals everyone else’s, partly because of the odd way 5 different languages blended to make it)
“The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.” – James Nicoll.
This is where part of the complexity of English comes from. It isn’t one, naturally evolved language; it’s a mish-mash, created by the ransacking other languages for rules and words, and grafting them together surgically. It is the “Frankenstein’s Monster” of languages.
“Bizarre”? From French.
The rule that a double-negative is an affirmative? Latin.
“Democracy”? Greek (demos, “people,” and kratos, “rule”). In fact, the tendency to pick apart Greek and Latin words, and stitch them together into new words, or just taking them wholesale, explains an enormous chunk of the English vocabulary.
That’s all leaving out that English started out as a Germanic language, and everything it inherited that way. I could go on, but you could literally write whole books on the subject.