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May 16, 2012

English: Blame the Saxons, And The Vikings, And The French...

Yes, the English language is confusing, has inconsistent spelling rules, ever-changing vocabulary and...

...grammar with almost as many exceptions as principles, but did you ever wonder how it got that way?

War, upheavals, invasions and occupations are horrible to live through, but they do wondrous things to a language.

Consider how banal and predictable the English language would be if it were not for the Anglo-Saxons, the Vikings, the Norman Conquest and innumerable other incursions, catastrophes and disasters that English language speakers coped with, fought against and, of course, wrote and sang about.

Some languages developed relatively undisturbed and could therefore, stay relatively linguistically pure. But not English.

The framers of the English language certainly had no intention of creating a world language, but historical circumstance dragged this little provincial dialect onto the world's stage.

I encourage you to do a little homework, and then check out this ten minute summary of the English language - http://www.smithsonianmag.com/video/The-History-of-English-in-10-Minutes.html?goback=.gde_1824973_member_111295930.

There's a lot packed into this short video, so you should definitely review your British history, literature and culture to understand many of the references.

As always, send us any words or phrases that make you crazy and be sure to let us know what it is about English and language learning that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing , constantly shifting linguistic landscape.


Also, Morf just might be available to visit your school or agency this coming summer. You can contact him at mmorf@mail.com.

Posted by mmorf at May 16, 2012 12:04 AM


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