Why is English so wierd?

About English


A global intercontinental community of 430 million people


An essentially Germanic language with a lot of weirdness


Conjecture: a simple language that is continually being simplified so it can be used as a second language by adults

What came before English?


Avon

Thames

Dover

London


Place names: Tor, Combe, Worthy


Descendent languages: Welsh, Cornish



The historical phases of English


Old English

Post-Roman, West Saxon (Wessex dialect), Beowulf

Middle English

Danelaw, Chaucer

Modern English

Tudors, Shakespeare, King James Bible

Old English


Alfred the Great


Hwæt, we gar-dena in geardagum,
þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon


Lo, praise of the prowess of people-kings
of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped...

Middle English

Kenning


classroom, fat-chewer, son of the soil, red shirt, code monkey, silver-tongued, pig's bladder


a blanket of white lay on the land


Not adjective-noun as with Greek


wound-hoe (sword) versus wine-dark sea


horsebreaker, blackest night



Modern English


Now is the winter of our discontent

Made glorious summer by this son of York



Vowel shift


Rees


Rhys


Riies


All English vowel spellings are consequently weird

English grammar


Written grammar is political and hence weird

Spoken grammar is straight-forward

Except for Received Pronunciation

Word order


Little black dress


The boy kicked the ball

Suffixes


-s

-ed

-ing


-hood

-ship

-dom

-ness

-less

Plurals


To create a plural in English add an 's'; because French


Stadium, Stadia, Stadiums


Bigfoot, Bigfeet, Bigfoots


Archaic plurals (-en suffix)




Utilities


by, then, until, so, this, to, with, and, of


The ball was kicked by the boy


I wrote you; I wrote to you


The boy kicked the ball with force


The boy by the wall kicked the ball;
the boy kicked, by the wall, the ball;
the boy kicked the ball by the wall


Stress, pitch and poetry


Rising pitch to indicate a question, see Australians


Pitch and intonation are not fixed


hamlet, nuclear


Native speakers like rhythm ,
hence iambic pentameter, cadence, repetition and couplets


English suits blank verse and songs

Why is English so wierd?

By Robert Rees

Why is English so wierd?

An ignite talk on the wierdness of

  • 1,061