The English Language

Of all the beautiful languages spoken on earth, English is perhaps one of the most complex and confusing. It may seem difficult to pinpoint exactly where the English language came from, but the answer is simple: everywhere. A friend of mine, Ian Hall (author of the Jamie Leith Chronicles), shared this entertaining video on twitter. This video is an excellent portrayal of where English originated and implications of how it will continue to evolve.

As we can see, the English language is clearly the melting pot of many other languages. This can sometimes make things like spelling very difficult to comprehend. The following image is a popular depiction of just how convoluted actual spelling versus phonetics can be.

Of course, the sounds that the letter combinations “gh” and “ti” create above typically only do so in the middle of words, not at the beginning or end. Perhaps a more accurate phonetic spelling of “fish” would be “phoche.”

Nevertheless, it is easy to see that the English language is one of the most interesting and flexible languages in the world. It certainly has both pros and cons, just like every other language out there. For instance, English words created from Greek or Latin stems are easy to understand, while Russian is known for its extensive and detailed vocabulary and German is built on cases that offer more syntax opportunities.

In short, knowing the limitations and strengths of a language is an invaluable skill for writers of any kind. Communication comes with responsibility; what you say can affect people’s feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. Learning how to effectively communicate is one of the most powerful things people of all races, genders, backgrounds, and fields of study can do.

What will you do with your language?

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