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What are some amazing facts about the English language?

Just a few out of thousands of candidates:

  1. Everyone knows that there are 2 indefinite articles: a before a consonant sound (a book), an before a vowel (an author). But did you know that there are two forms of the? We say ‘thuh’ before a consonant (the book) and ‘thee’ before a vowel (the author) or a pause.
  2. There are 3 ways of pronouncing the -ed past tense endings: t as in ‘liked’, d as in ‘loved’ and id as in ‘wanted’.
  3. Similarly with the -s endings: s as in ‘cats’, z as in ‘dogs’ and iz as in ‘horses’. It all depends on the characteristics of the final sound - all English speakers subconsciously know this, applying the rule effortlessly to new words.
  4. Sounds appear in, and between words, without our noticing. For example when aw is followed by a vowel sound, a small r is usually inserted: drawring, law rand order.
  5. When oo is followed by a vowel sound a small w appears: who (w) are, you (w) all (remember Basil Fawlty mentioning the war?)
  6. The h sound (at the beginning of a word) isn’t a separate sound (as it looks in the spelling), but is a puff of air said at the same time as the following vowel.
  7. What’s the difference between photograph and photographer? Just that er, right? But in speech, this also happens:
  • the rhythm (stress) changes: PHO-to-GRAPH pho-TO-graph-er
  • EVERY vowel changes

The same thing happens to many words when they change their grammatical class: biology-biological, super-superfluous, a rebel - to rebel. This feature is a very good reason why, if English spelling were to be changed so that it exactly represented the sounds, we would end up with more complication and confusion .

8. Stress is used (far more than most other languages) to change meaning. Compare how you would say ‘a black BIRDcage’ and ‘a BLACKbird cage’ (no, it’s not about the gaps between the words. There are no gaps.)

9. Making a question is very complicated (although also completely logical). To put this statement into a question She worked in London, you have to carry out the following operations:

  1. Add an auxiliary verb do
  2. Make it agree with she: She does worked in London
  3. Remove the past tense marker (-ed) in the main verb, and put the auxiliary in the past tense: She did work in London
  4. Swap the auxiliary and the subject: Did she work in London?

10. While many languages have only one or two past tenses, English uses at least 8 verb forms to talk about the past, all with their own shade of meaning:

  • I ate
  • I have eaten
  • I had eaten
  • I was eating
  • I have been eating
  • I had been eating
  • I used to eat
  • I would eat (as in ‘When I was 10 I would eat ice cream every day’)

10. We can also use past tenses to talk about the present or even the future:

  • I wish you were here with me now.
  • If only I was rich.
  • If I won a million pounds, I would give it all to you.

11. (Although this is not particular to English) The human brain cleverly ignores what is not useful to us, which means that most of the goings-on of language operates outside of our awareness, even when (as in the above examples) the evidence is right there hiding in open sight, literally under our noses. That is the joy of learning about language. Most comedy that is language or pun-based exploits this: the realisation of a language feature that is both hitherto unknown, but suddenly completely obvious, make us laugh.


This information was taken from Quora. Click here to view the original post.

English language is not that easy as it seems, isn't it? Was any of these facts new to you?

#language #Quora

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What are your thoughts on this subject?
64 Comments
John New
Point 4 is only applicable to England, and the r sound is not used in Scotland or many parts of the Uk. So this is not a general rule.
0
Jan 4, 2020 7:17PM
John McLardie
Fred Zeb Fudpucker, quite right. In the UK this would appear to be a peculiarity of what is called 'estuary English' (SE England and London) and is considered improper and an affectation.
0
Dec 12, 2019 4:46AM
John W Shreve
The second point on #10 is wrong. It should read, "It only I were rich." If the action or state is doubtful, "were" is to be used (subjunctive mood).
3
Nov 6, 2019 5:16PM
John W Shreve
Peter de Loriol, There are other influences. I picked some of that Tidewater accent (or whatever it's called) when I lived in D.C. and some Brit when I worked with Brits.
0
Nov 6, 2019 5:09PM
John W Shreve
Fred Zeb Fudpucker, It was odd reading that, wasn't it?
0
Nov 6, 2019 5:05PM
John W Shreve
A Germanic (Friesian) language with a Latin grammar base. No wonder we're confused.
0
Nov 6, 2019 5:04PM
littledick
I am so thankful English is my mother tongue and I did not have to learn it from scratch. I admire all the ESL students who are studying it or have studied it. With such a history of Germanic and French influences (the latter was actually the language of the English court for about 300 years), it's bound to be complicated.
0
Aug 25, 2019 8:39PM
Linalinda Eichin
Very Educational Much Obliged
0
Aug 9, 2019 7:29PM
Fred Zeb Fudpucker
patrickdocmcwilliams, NOT in the Great Lakes area!
0
Jun 12, 2019 6:13PM
Fred Zeb Fudpucker
Not everybody says drawring and law rand order. I say drawing and law and order. Info is area specific in the USA, mostly east coast north of Philly, I'd guess.
2
Jun 12, 2019 6:12PM
Pablito Budoy
very informative
0
Apr 15, 2019 4:13AM
ninakamwene
An excellent and educational piece. Thank you.
0
Mar 14, 2019 1:48AM
Darlene Davidson
The important part of a joke is the punch line.
1
Mar 7, 2019 5:03PM
Peter de Loriol
Yes, this is the problem - when it is your own language you copy your family, so any grammar faults are endemic, but when you learn another language, you have to learn the grammar! Quite often parents assume that school will teach the child to enunciate words properly - it is, though, the way the language is spoken by the family that influences the child's tone or accent, not their school friends.
1
Feb 11, 2019 4:08AM
patrickdocmcwilliams
The Pentagon is part of the Department of de-FENCE. A football team plays DEE-fence.
2
Jan 28, 2019 4:17PM

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