Why Is English Such A Hard Language To Learn For Foreigners And Non Native Speakers In What Ways Is The English Language Illogical In Certain Situations

Why Is English Such A Hard Language To Learn For Foreigners And Non Native Speakers In What Ways Is The English Language Illogical In Certain Situations – Type, gymnastics and typos. Why is English spelling so strange and unpredictable? Don’t blame the mix of languages. Note the characteristics of time and technology

Arica Okrent is a linguist and author with a PhD in linguistics and cognitive and cognitive neuroscience from the University of Chicago. He covers Language for Mental Flowers and is the author of The Land of Invented Languages ​​(2009) and You’re Wrong: Why Not Rhyme Hard, Passing and Dough – and Other Weird Things in the English Language (2021). He lives in Chicago.

Why Is English Such A Hard Language To Learn For Foreigners And Non Native Speakers In What Ways Is The English Language Illogical In Certain Situations

You want to pronounce it as “aw”, “ow”, “uff”, “off”, “oo” or “ah”. This

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). These two options contain the most content – only “yes” (

The English spelling system, if it can be called a system, is full of such things. Most people who grow up with English learn to read and write. Millions of people who are not trained in English learn to use it even with very high precision.

Admittedly, for non-native speakers, this type of skill usually involves a lot of confusion and frustration. Part of the problem is that English spelling is deceptively similar to other languages ​​that use the same alphabet, but is relatively consistent. You can learn the pronunciation rules of Italian, Spanish, German, Swedish, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Polish, etc. in one afternoon and read confidently even if you don’t understand the text in that language. Your accent may be terrible, your pace, stress, and rhythm may be completely off, and no one will mistake you for a native speaker—but you can. Even French, known for the spelling challenges it presents to students, can meet those requirements. There are many silent characters, but they are in predictable places. French has many rules and exceptions to these rules, but they could all be listed in a reasonable number of pages.

Greg Brooks (2015) – Over 450 pages, lists all the ways that certain sounds can be represented by letters or combinations of letters, and that certain letters or combinations of letters can be read as sounds.

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Since the Middle Ages, various European languages ​​have adopted and adapted the Latin script. So why is English spelling more inconsistent than other languages? The basics of English’s tumultuous history are well known: Anglo-Saxon tribes brought Old English in the 5th century, Viking raids from mixed Old Norse in the 8th century, and the Norman Conquest in the 11th century. and proficiency in French. Population movement and intervention, London and the rise of the merchant class in the 13th and 14th centuries. Continental contact and the balance of Germanic, Romanic and Celtic cultural forces. No language academies were established to control and intervene in the direction of the written form. The British went around and haphazardly put the pieces together. As blogger James Nicol wrote in 1990, English has “chased other languages ​​into the streets, knocked them unconscious, and raided their pockets for new vocabulary.”

, a Middle English book of form rules and instructions from the 1480s. In other instructions, children are told

Not like a cannonball

But what about the spelling factor in all of this? The rest of Europe does not struggle with ethnic and linguistic mixing. The remnants of the Roman Empire included Germanic, Celtic and Slavic communities spread over a wide area. Different groups controlled the population speaking a language different from that of the ruling class: the Norse conquest of Normandy in the 10th century (they now write French with a fairly regular system). Ottoman Turks ruled Hungary in the 16th and 17th centuries (now Hungarian spelling is very similar) and Moorish rule in Spain from the 8th to 15th centuries (spelling is also very similar). It is true that there have been attempts at standardization by government academies and other governments in other languages, but these interventions have only succeeded in making minor changes to the existing systems in certain regions. English is not the only language that searches people’s pockets for useful words.

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English’s curious answer relates to the timing of technological development. The rise of printing took hold of the English language at a time when the rules connecting speech and writing could be hijacked by various powers and empires that did not align or connect with each other, or even share a common thread. The goal in general. If printing had come earlier in the life of the English language, or later when some of the confusion had subsided, things might have ended differently.

Remarkably, the use of different and related technologies hundreds of years ago – for example, the alphabet used since the 600s – has not had this effect on English. The Latin alphabet spread to Europe with the spread of Christianity from the 4th century. Some indigenous European languages ​​already had some form of early writing system, but most have no written form. During the first hundred years of English using the Latin alphabet, spelling was relatively stable and phonetic. Monks and missionaries began around 600 AD. No. Translation of Latin liturgical texts into the vernacular—not so that they could be read by the common people, but at least so that they could read them aloud. Most of the people were illiterate. Vernacular translations are written as spoken, aiming to be as close as possible to orthographic pronunciation.

Often the languages ​​these monks and missionaries were trying to translate had non-Latin sounds and did not have the symbols for the sounds they needed. In these cases they may use accent marks, put two letters together, or borrow other marks. For example, Old English has a strange, peculiar “th” sound, originally borrowing the syllabic (þ) from Germanic. Later they settled on two-syllable combinations

. They mostly used the Latin alphabet as they knew it, but expanded by using the letters in new ways when other sounds were needed. We still use this sound, z

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The Englishman was at home in the kitchen, in the workshop, and in the market, but had little faith in the other enrollees

Writing was a specialized skill used by specialized scribes. They are coached by other writers who have passed down the rules of spelling. Different monasteries may have had different styles or practices for representing English sounds, and the spoken language had accents and variations—but a written standard and eventually an entire literature emerged.

This tradition was interrupted after the Norman invasion in 1066. For the next 300 years or so, written English disappeared entirely, with few exceptions. French, the language of the conquerors, became the language of the state and all its official functions. Latin became the language of church and education. English was the spoken language of everyday life for most people, but all the social classes that had previously maintained and developed English as the standard of writing for landlords, religious leaders, and government officials were replaced.

English began to recover as a written language in the 14th century. Through the generations it reverted to the nobility and clergy, although French and Latin were the languages ​​of instruction and ceremonial activities. At that time, the English language changed. Several centuries of language development have resulted in various pronunciations. And the Old English spelling is gone. As English began to return to written form, these people found themselves not only thinking about how to write English words, but also using English-educated, formal ways of speaking. The Englishman was perfectly at home in the kitchen, the workshop and the market, but he did not quite trust the other registrants. Often the solution was to grab a French word in a nearby hand. Matters such as court proceedings, government decrees, property title documents, and schools relied on French vocabulary to fill in gaps where English was not practical. Words like

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And since many people had some sort of interaction with official government, many Englishes became part of official life and then everyone’s vocabulary.

Before the Norman era, the dominant language was Old English, a pure Germanic cousin of Dutch and German. To modern English speakers, it is unrecognizable as English and requires translation to understand. In the hundreds of years after the conquest, it evolved into Middle English – though still Germanic

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