What English does – but most languages can’t


English, you’re quite unusual. You can say things most languages just can’t! And I think some of your most interesting
skills can tell us something about you and a little about languages the world over. We met some linguistic skills English
is missing out on, but what about the features it does have? I mean, does it already possess any uncommon
or rare traits? Why yes, yes it does, compared to most languages. Now, “most” should have a bunch of asterisks
next to it, because figuring out what most languages do is hard. There are several thousand and we’ll just
be taking samples, but you’re not here for stats lessons. You’re here for the cool features. When exchanging stories about English’s quirks,
there’s one thing I see most everyone rush to first: spelling. And yeah, your spelling is whoa (whough!),
and yeah it’s fun to keep bringing up “ghoti” as a whimsical way to spell “fish” following
your own “rules”. But a spelling system is not a language, and
even if you never wrote a word, there are English oddities you’d have to contend with. Forget letters for now. Start with numbers. English is already among a smaller group for
putting its numbers before its nouns instead of after. But things really get out of order with your
firsts, seconds and thirds. See, if languages need ordinal numbers, assuming
they’re using them at all, one thing they do is keep them consistent, maybe at worst
having a “first”. Going off-number with your firsts, seconds,
or even three-plusses is common in Europe. If you want to play along with the crowd,
try extending your fourths and fifths down to oneth, twoth, threeth. Speaking of numbers, English has plurals. When you have bee times many, you call them
bees, not bee. That’s less normal than you might expect. In fact, plural markers like these are left
out in many languages, and they’re optional in others. Sometimes they even show a preference for
animacy, so humans and animals may get the plural treatment but place and thing get left
alone. Articles are THE way to go in English, or
at least A way. But having a’s and the’s is not the only way. (Or the norm?) Plenty of languages just have the: it’s dog,
it’s the dog. Or no articles at all! I saw dog. Is that a nonspecific dog? That exact dog? Well, languages can help you out with more
info if needs be, but how often is it really ambiguous? Be like Korean or Russian and save yourself
some words. If you’re a collector or hoarder and you like
your possessions, this verb is surely known to you: have. Except not all languages have it. In fact, it looks like most don’t. Forgoing it means doing something else, building
some clever constructions. Maybe say “it’s of you” like Nepali, “it’s
to you” like Gàidhlig or, my preference, go Sango style with a conjunction: “you are
and it”. That’s not the only weird “have”-thing. If you have spoken or have read much English,
you have run into this before. Ok, I’ll stop the hints: it’s the perfect. Maybe you’ve thought nothing of it. But think something! It is a highly unusual characteristic of Western
European languages. French, German and Italian have really gone
all in on this and… ne hanno fatto il modo principale di parlare del passato, made it
the main way to talk about the past. In languages that haven’t perfected haves,
some forgo it altogether. Others have strategies, like in West Africa
and Southeast Asia, where they opt for “already” or “finish”. Since we’re talking about your verbs and their
Europeanness, consider that pesky thing school warned us to avoid: passive voice. But you don’t have to avoid what isn’t there,
and for most languages the passive is not. I guess those writing drills were preparing
us for worldwide verbs. Verbs go hand in hand with cases. Language nerds know this well. Except English behaves odd here, too, asymmetrically
casing your pronouns, like they eat hay, but not your nouns in horses eat hay. The way you use that verb is less common,
too. It only marks the subject. It’s more common to mark both the subject
and the object, let me make this up, horse eats’m hay, or just nothing at all, horse eat
hay. Well, at least the way you align nouns and
verbs is nothing special. It’s called accusative alignment, and it means
that the “I” in “I see you” is the same as in “I sleep”, but changes to “me” in “you
see me”. Plenty of languages go for “me sleep”, that’s
ergative, or they adopt even more fluid strategies. Wow, is your head still on? Or was that stranger than you ever expected
languages can get? Stranger than… is a comparative. And the way English compares, with an adjective
plus a suffix plus this comparer particle, is rare outside Europe. In fact, this pattern may be like a fingerprint. When it shows up elsewhere – boom! – European
influence suspected. The next time you want to say “your language
is tougher than mine”, may I suggest the Subsaharan strat of saying it’s “tough exceed” mine. Or look to Uzbek and declare that it’s “tough
from my language”. Or simply be balanced like Sona in Papua New
Guinea: “your language is hard, mine is easy”. English, you even sound rare compared to other
languages. I mentioned this once before in my video about
weird phonemes, but interdental fricatives are uncommon. That’s your θ and ð. They’re honestly difficult if you didn’t grow up with
them. And if you want to know what life is like
without them, to stop it, you’ve got to stop it! Turn the fricative into a stop consonant,
just like Irish and again many Nigerian English speakers do when they say [ð]is [d̪]is way
or [d]is way. Also, your vowels are odd. Few languages have more distinct vowel sounds
than English. Kabyle, a Berber language, has just three. Maya has a very normal five. British English has 13 distinct vowel qualities. (See, I told you they’re odd!) But the oddest sounding thing about you might
be arrr. This r sound isn’t too common. What may be even rarer is the way people who
pronounce their Rs between a vowel and a consonant actually say those vowels: far, fir, for. Those vowels are unique. You can hear them in English, in Mandarin
Chinese where it’s become a whole érhuà process, and rarely anywhere else. Before we get to my last feature, I have a
quick honorable mention that isn’t about the whole world so much as it is about specific
regions where English would be out of place because it has fingers, hands, and arms. Around Eurasia and closer to the equator in
Africa and the Pacific, the words for your “hand” and “arm” are the same. Even rarer, the word for “finger” and “hand”
match up often in the Australian languages and sometimes the Americas and the Pacific. One place all three of these collide is Tahiti,
where tō’u rima can mean my arm, my hand or my finger! We’ve seen a bunch of things that are
surprisingly weird given how routine they feel in English, but this mundane “one” may currently be my favorite “one”. Take a noun-less adjective, a sad
one, happy one, or this red one, and notice that English expects one word after it. This is uncommon. Why not just use the adjective like most languages,
or mark it with a suffix or prefix? Or take the rarest strategy. At least one lone language in Australia does
not let adjectives float free without nouns. No red ones, no red. It’s a red and a house, or it is not red! Well, that was fun to spend a couple videos
thinking about the unusual things English English lacks and has. I’m curious to know if you have any favorites,
or if there’s one particular feature you’d really want me to spend more time getting animated
about. Credit goes to this tool, WALS, for the basic data and maps I relied on here. And to my patrons and audience, you were all kind to let me play with these while
I’m in the midst of working on a more serious tale from language history. To patrons, thank you in all of the unusual English
I can muster, and to everyone watching, stick around and subscribe for language.

100 Replies to “What English does – but most languages can’t”

  1. The recent American obsession with avoiding the passive voice has led to the infuriating and catching habit of using transitive verbs intransitively. The earliest example of this was ‘Enjoy’ (omitting ‘your meal’). Then there are parcels that ‘ship’ or ‘dispatch’ and various things that ‘launch’, all by themselves apparently. Grrr.

    Also on the subject of passive voice, a grammatically impossible (though admittedly handy) feature of English is the habit of making the indirect object the subject in a passive construction, e.g. ‘You gave a book to me’ becomes ‘I was given a book by you’. Grammatically speaking, this should be ‘A book was given me by you’ – ‘book’ (object) becomes ‘book’ (subject) and ‘me’ remains on the receiving end.

  2. Making all these vague blanket statements about English being "unique" and "weird" is kind of misleading. There's a strange kind of bias/tone in this whole video, for instance saying English is "unique" and does things other languages "can't," that's honestly off-putting. "Your spelling is whough!" Yeah, let's just call it weird and ignore the explainable historical linguistic developments that led to current spelling vs. pronunciation differences. English has features more common in European languages than other parts of the world? It's almost like English is a Germanic language with its roots in Europe! Of course it's going to be more similar to those than sub-Saharan African or East Asian languages. Interdental fricatives are difficult to speakers who don't use them in their native languages the same way clicks are difficult for native English speakers. This doesn't make English special. "English is more similar to languages it has deeper historical ties with and less similar to those it doesn't! Crazy! English has some features and doesn't have some others! Wack!" I just don't understand the point of this video.

  3. Precision requires the ability for abstract thought. Abstract thought requires pre frontal lobes. The brain structure of the races is different.

  4. No wonder thee immigrants cannot understand our culture or concepts! Which is why they cannot be part of it. Our tech is better; our language is better; and WE are better!

  5. I would add:
    – Using "do" as an auxiliar verb for questions.
    – conjugating only the third personal singular in present (eat/eats). It is more common to conjugate first and/or second person and keep third person neutral.

  6. Sounds a lot like universal Indogermanic, or at least west European, to me.
    And about those vowels: I have an awful hard time explaining rounded German vowels to English speakers.
    I find Turkish has a delightfully logic approach to that.

  7. It feels like the thing that makes English special is specificity. With the exception of the floating adjective, most of the changes mentioned seem to be about things that separate things, or call attention to differences between things.

  8. I hate the thought of a language not having the definite or indefinite state…
    I hate thought of language not having definite state or indefinite state.

  9. i don't know if this applies to other languages, but Filipino language is easier to spell for me, as what you hear is mostly how you write it

    but I know before we learn about accents and how to write them, but I don't think they still teaches that today, probably because we could write words and read them fine without needing the accens

  10. Hit other languages over the head in dark alleys and rob them of their vocabulary while claiming that English had always owned that word all along?

  11. Let me compare those with Polish; it's not too distant from English, but some differences will become apparent:

    Numbers before nouns: yes

    Ordinals: they are present, of course, but defining where irregular ends and regular starts is tricky. The word for "first" is definitely irregular, as it doesn't even resemble the word for "one". "Second" and "two" are a little more similar, but in the literal sense they only share the initial letter. Then they become more similar, but 1-20 are pretty much all irregular. After that some regularity starts, but you still need to learn it like cardinal numbers: in milestones.

    Plurals: yes, both for animate and inanimate nouns. One oddity I've noticed is that there is no singular word for "door". It's always "doors".

    Articles: not present. You can use determiners like "this" or "some" when you need to be specific, but they are not required in most circumstances.

    Have: yes. Unlike, for example, Russian, the word for "have" in Polish is perfectly normal and a part of everyday speech.

    Perfect: there is perfect, but it's not formed with an auxiliary or verb conjugation. The verbs themselves are either perfective or imperfective. You can morph many of them from one to another, but that would be considered a new verb rather than a conjugation of an existing one. Perfective verbs don't have the present form, because you can't finish something NOW; when you finish something, it's either already in the past, or still in the future, even if it's less than a second from now in either direction.

    Passive: it's present, but not too popular. Active voice is often just shorter, especially when you drop pronouns, while in passive you need extra words.

    Casing: both pronouns and nouns are inflected.

    Verb markings: verbs only mark the subject (like English, but in every tense and for every person). It's the verb that determines what case objects have.

    Alignment: Let's just say it's like in English. I can't even wrap my head around this exotic ergative.

    Comparatives: present, also a suffix + a word.

    Th or similar: absent. Trainable with some practice, but many English learners never bother.

    Number of vowels: there are 8 significant vowels, 6 oral and 2 nasal. Anything else is a mutation caused by surrounding sounds. I'd say English is definitely tougher in that regard.

    That R sound: no, R sounds different

    Fingers/hand/arm: there are unique words for each of those (almost, because there is one shared word for both "fingers" and "toes"). Though often the word for "arm" is used instead of "hand", if you want to be specific, there is such option. Both are common words, neither of them just a medical term.

    Adjectives without nouns: no special word like "one" is added. It's just a noun, or sometimes a noun with a determiner, for example: "this red".

  12. I'm always surprised that native english speakers complain more about their own language, than those who learn it do. While I learned english I never gave a thought to all the different vowels tbh. I was told it's one of the easiest languages to learn. Definitely easier than latin or french.

  13. You mention the "r" sound, but you didn't mention that the impact on the vowel preceding isn't universal even within English. Lots of accents are non-rhotic.

  14. Is it just me or is it hard to understand the exact points being made in these videos? English is my only language and the narrator has a very werid way of talking that doesn't make a whole lot of sense in support of his various points.

  15. I like to see English as being extremely “context-sensitive”…..you implied it yourself in the video, the “complexities” of English all provide the listener/reader with so much extra information that may not always be present in other languages. While there may be many ambiguities in the language to non-speakers, when you do understand English, there is absolutely no ambiguity in the actual content of any text….unless intentional on the part of any writer….or the writer is simply just not talking about anything whatsoever.

  16. I finally understand why Dutch people are pretty good at English. A lot of rules in grammar are equal to that of the Dutch language.

  17. Not sure based on his pronunciation, but when he is talking about 'have' and he says, what sounds like a mispronunciation of, gaelic, we do have the word 'have' its just not a verb, its a prepositional pronoun. To say "I have it" you would say "tá sé agam" the 'agam' being 'had'. There isnt really a translation but it definitely isnt 'to'. Just thought Id mention it.

  18. Greetings from Uzbekistan!

    -“tough from mine” is used in Uzbek.
    -“Menikidan qiyin”

    -“tougher than mine” is also used in the Uzbek language.
    -“Menikiga qaraganda qiyinroq”

    I’m glad to see my Country as an example actually all the Turkic languages are almost the same (Uzbek, Turkish, Azerbaijani and few others)

  19. I would love to see a comparison of sign languages. Or, at least, show what sign language can do that spoken languages can’t

  20. One of my favourite things about the English language is how nouns/names can be used as verbs and adjectives. You can say "I am so going to chimney you!" or "That was very Lady Gaga of her." and while the meaning of these have never been defined, the sentences they're used in are technically correct and invoke a very specific thing.

  21. Mongolian in China has more complicated spelling than English, albeit Mongolian in Mongolia has adopted a simplified Cyrillic alphabet that do no longer work transdialectally. Tibetan also has a good spelling rules but not as irregular as English.

    Dondac Wu Chinese has twenty oral single vowels, all distinct, the largest inventory in the world.

  22. I like the fact that English has such a simple possessive case, basically, it's an apostrophe. Example: In English, we can say "it's my father's house" in Spanish, for example, you would say the equivalent of: "it is the house of my father"

  23. 7:58 In ancient Greek, the word χείρ (cheir) can mean hand, fingers, or wrist area. Why does that matter? There is some dispute as to whether or not Jesus could have been crucified in the manner traditionally shown, which is through the palm of the hand. It's argued that the tissue there wouldn't have been strong enough to hold a grown man's weight and the nails would have torn out through his flesh. There are ways this could have been done, but not in the manner normally shown in Christian art. However, if you translate χείρ as "wrist", then it makes more sense from a physiological standpoint.

    Most people who were crucified were apparently tied in place. If someone were tied in place loosely and then nails put in to make sure they didn't wiggle free, then the ropes could have supported the body weight while the nails pinned the hands in place through the palms.

    I don't know if the Shroud of Turin is the actual shroud of Jesus or not, but the blood stains are on the wrist area, not the palm area. Even if the shroud is not the shroud of Jesus, it's possible that it's a shroud of somebody that was crucified. Or, if it was a complete fake, then it's possible that the people that faked it knew something about crucifixion that has been lost in modern times, such as the location in which a person would be nailed.

  24. Context determines whether one should use the passive voice.
    Whether the passive voice should be used is determined by context.

    Which sentence is best?

  25. I understood so little of that… interdental fricatives.. Is that a real thing? Oh well, thank you for sharing.

  26. I find it disconcerting, that the conjunction 'that' is more frequently omitted, and is often followed by direct speech, instead of indirect speech. Furthermore, the failure to use the pluperfect tense, which expresses the past, beautifully.

  27. I am so lost, I suddenly remember the thirty minutes before I was going to receive a huge F in junior high english class.

  28. The Passive Voice is MUCH more polite than the alternative and I try to use it to be non-offensive!
    Compare
    "You have broken it." – which is accusing – with
    "It has been broken." – which states a fact but does not assign blame!

  29. Some of these oddities show up in Japanese as well, interestingly enough!

    The articles “a” and “the” correlate pretty closely to “wa” and “ga”, in that using one or the other can be used to distinguish whether one is talking about a specific item or just an item in general (although the usage, grammar, and placement in the sentence is totally different.)

    Japanese also have a close correlate to “have.” If you say “__ ga aru”, it typically denotes possession of said thing (though technically what you’re actually saying is that the thing exists, with the implication being that this thing exists in your possession.) The interesting part is that, using this same term, Japanese also has a correlate to the English “have done.” You can say “[past tense verb] koto ga aru” (have done something) or “[noun] ga aru” (have something), and in both situations, “ga aru” serves the same exact role as “have”.

    Japanese also has specific conjugations to make language passive rather than active.

  30. how many language nerds caught the grammar mistake at 4:32?
    interesting points!
    putting the number before the noun is related to plurals. to english speakers, the amount or number of an object is considered information about the object rather than information associated with the object, and thus it comes before the noun just as with adjectives. in the same way, "a plate" is thought to be a different object than "some plates". eg at a restaurant if a table of customers asks for "plate", how many should the server bring?
    the indefinite article is also functional, because it allows nouns to be used as adjectives. " a ski" is an object as is "a helmet", but when you have "a ski helmet" "ski" becomes a descriptor not an object. korean (and other languages without an indefinite article) no words are saved at all, because the only way to say this without "a" is "helmet of skiing".
    possessive (have) is also somewhat akin. in english it's descriptive – "my object", but in others it's associative -"object of mine", so without "have" a common way to convey possession is "there is one of mine".

  31. I'd like to see more about 'for', 'of', 'to', 'at' and other English words like that. They get used in so many situations that i don't think native speakers realize how complicated their rules are.

  32. First off, if you claim the English language to be easy while you are making a huge number of grammar mistakes in English, you are an idiot!
    There is no easy language if you want to be speaking it at an advanced level without mistakes.

    I speak Slovak (my 1st language), Czech, Russian, German and English fluently.

    The Russian language doesn't have articles, but they use "some/one" as indefinite and "this" as the definite article. Slovak/Czech do have declinable articles (declinable in 7 cases singular and 7 cases plural), they are like German der-die-das = ten-tá-to, or ein-eine-ein = nejaký-nejaké-nejaké, they are called "pointing pronouns" though.

    Russian doesn't have perfect tenses, but it has perfective-imperfective forms of every verb. Slovak/Czech do have both – all perfect tenses and perfective/imperfective forms of verbs. Slovak has got more tenses and aspects than English.

    1. Numbers before things – one house
    , two houses, three houses
    Jeden dom, dva domy, tri domy

    Declinable. For example 7th case –

    jedným domom

    2. Cardinal: jeden, dva, tri, štyri

    Ordinal: prvý, druhý, tretí, štvrtý (male)

    Prvý – prvá – prvé male-female-neuter

    Declinable. First man. Prvý muž. Prvého muža. Prvému mužovi. Prvého muža. Prvom mužovi. Prvým mužom. Plural: prví muži. Prvých mužov. Prvým mužom. Prvých mužov. Prvých mužoch. Prvými mužmi.

    Noun declination: 15 kinds
    , 5 classes (the classes define the past participle passive and imperative)
    Adjective declination: five kinds

    Pronoun, numerals, present, past participle and gerund declination.

    3. Plurals. Suffix depends on declination kind. Muž – muži. Žena – ženy. Okno – okná etc. Very complicated.

    4. Articles. The man – ten muž. The woman – tá žena. The child – to dieťa. Declinable.

    A man – nejaký muž.

    Some men – nejakí muži

    Declinable. Seven cases singular, 7 cases plural.

    Four genders. Male people, male things, female and neuter

    5. Have. "Have" in the meaning of obligation (not possession) is a main modal verb in Slovak. It is like English shall – should in the meaning of obligation.

    Shall I help you? Mám ti pomôcť? Mám = I have

    Should I = mal by som (mal = had)

    The defendant shall pay 1000 dollars. Obžalovaný MÁ zaplatiť 1000 dolárov

    6. All English tenses and aspects exist in Slovak, including "going to" future, "used to" past, present continuous with future time marker etc. There are four tenses in Slovak – present, future, past and pre-past. There are many verb aspects in Slovak such as repeated action aspect, 1x-aspect, combined aspect, perfective aspect, imperfective aspect etc

    7. Passive voice. There are two main kinds of passive voice in Slovak – reflexive and non-reflexive.

    For example, the sentence When I came home, the dinner was being cooked by my wife (past continuous passive voice) can be said in two ways in Slovak with a slightly different meaning.

    Non-reflexive: keď son prišiel domov, obed bol práve varený

    Reflexive: keď som prišiel domov, obed sa práve varil.

    Passive voice clause from modals is possible in Slovak too.

    It must be done – to musí byť urobené

    To sa musí urobiť (like German Das muss man machen – cannot be said in English)

    Perfect continuous passive voice does exist in Slovak, pre-past tense passive does exist either.

    8. Verbs.

    Conjugation in 5 classes and 14 kinds of conjugation. Very complex and complicated.

    Every Slovak verb has got four different stems.

    Declinable gerunds, present and past participles.

    Active and passive past participles, active and passive present participles, active and passive transgressives.

    (it has nothing to do with active or passive voice. There is an active voice clause formulated with active past participle whereas there is an active voice clause formulated with passive past participle)

    Complicated imperative. Complicated passive causative.
    Many conditionals that don´t exist in English, for example, real past conditionals with different probabilities.

    Four kinds of infinitive.

    Two kinds of present participle adjectives.

    9. Comparatives and superlatives.

    Nice – nicer – the nicest

    Pekný – krajší – najkrajší

    Important – more important – the most important

    Dôležitý – viac dôležitý – najviac dôležitý

    Irregular comparatives

    Gradable and ungradable adjectives, absolute adjectives

    Slovak adverbs have got comparatives and superlatives different from adjectives

    10. Weird phonemes – for example, the consonant N has got three different pronunciation sounds, consonant M two.

    Pronunciation of a word depends on its neighbour words in a sentence.

    Basic Slovak morphology – 900 pages. Syntax – 680 pages. Etc.

  33. i was on a date with a Korean girl once and she asked me, "Do you like dog?" For a moment I thought she was going to suggest that we eat dog meat, but then she showed me a bar where the owner had a cuddly dog. I guess she should have asked, "Do you like dogS."

  34. In regards to hand naming – Baltic languages do have the name that distinguishes hand from arm, though I guess you do see a pattern of that word being substituted by the generic one, which essentially refers to the extremity as a whole, and is never definitely exclusive of the hand.

  35. Here are the rules of English:
    1. There are no rules except rule 2
    2. Any rules that are taught to you in school or wrong and get broken repeatedly

  36. Concerning "the red one" — sometimes English allows an adjective to stand on its own without any placeholder noun, e.g. "You have to take the good with the bad".

  37. In my experience, Italians DO find difficult to pronunce *th… Me included… three and tree have been an actual Nightmare to learn

  38. Hindi does have all and even offers one of the greatest features that most languages don't. it is `Hindi is spoken as it is written and vice-versa.` When I started to learn grammar( wyakaran), it was the first thing written there unlike English(grammar) and Punjabi.

  39. For better or worse, mastery of the English language opens many more doors than any other single language; it has become the Lingua Franca of the present age.

  40. I never knew the present perfect tense was a European thing, but I did notice when I was studying Dutch that it lacks present perfect continuous, and my cousin claims that it doesn't exist in German or Russian either. How do other languages unambiguously tell you when they have been doing something?

  41. Thanks for this video. English is one of my most favourite languages in the world. I write even better when I do it using English; sharp, witty, blunt to the point or grandiloquent when needed.
    In Spanish everything ends dull because it has so many voids in vocabulary and it has this blot of using "palabras baúl" to fill those voids, instead of coming up with neologism or rescuing forgotten relic words from old Castilian (if you do that you get the end of the stick), the result always lack the "perlocutioness" English already possess. This is more obvious during localization of movies and videogames from their original English source. Another example is how Spanish lacks jargons, like pirate lingo and criminal lingo (because Spaniards were always the fodder for those). I grown up pressured by four different languages, but only English opened the world for me, while the other three still bicker about landownership and are more worried about butchering each other than growing forward like English does. Spanish will always be the butt of jokes anyway — there's a whole continent to demonstrate that point and how one cannot be proud of one's language because of that cultural and historical blemish which heralded its further decadence over the centuries.

    Guess the reason English is so "neutral", prolific and easy to handle is because it needed it due to the ample regions it required to manage across the British Empire. English tries to accommodate everything and everyone to cope for the many cultural backgrounds it encompasses. That's another of the reasons behind its inconsistency during pronunciation. Still, even with its quirks, I love English to bits.

  42. Frankly, none of this surprises me. I was waiting for the moment you pointed out something English does or hides that is not in common with European languages:

    1) Like German, English has 4 cases. Unlike German, no conjugations or declensions are made, ergo, they are hidden and most people speaking English are unaware of them.

    2) The fact that English spelling is forced to reflect its language of origin, instead of anglicising the spelling of an imported word. Hence the illogical 'system' of silent letters and consonant mixes that make absolutely no sense unless you know that foyer is French, Sian is a Welsh name and that bairn is an unchanged Scottish word. Of course debt isn't an English word – do you really think the 'b' would be kept silent if it were (Latin)?

    3) The English formal language involves the use or non-use of very specific words and the tone of voice.

    4) A stock or standard sentence can have its meaning changed completely based on the the speaker's expression: sincerity, cynicism, sarcasm, joke, warning. Think of all the iterations you have heard the phrase "Welcome to Dubai" or "Welcome to the Jungle". The rampant confusion online over the writer's intended tone of voice when they leave a comment on any website is proof of this problem. (Hilariously I couldn't help notice this problem decrease with the rise of emojis.)

    5) In most languages that use it, a definite or indefinite article is supposed to convey how many of an object, how close to you or the person you're talking to it is and its specific function in both the contextual scenario and your sentence. In Japanese, 'that' can have 3 translations based on if it's next to you, the other side of the room or out of your sight. In English there is no rule or no indication. 'That cat' is either in front of you, in the past, dead or at someone else's house. And why is 'this cat' your favourite when 'that cat' is my favourite, while we both said 'my favourite'? Most people will assume we're talking about the same cat and no one's positions have moved…can we really be so certain?

    My point is, often English will flout its own rules in order to support the intent and context of whoever is talking. It is ridiculously context-reliant and the ability to navigate and master the context-direction of English is what makes someone learning the language native-level. Very high standard indeed and not one I expect many to accomplish.

  43. Also some languages I've studied allow for the dropping of pronouns, especially personal pronouns. You don't need to say "I went to my car" when someone just asked you where "you" just went. You can say "car" or "my car" or "to my car" or "went to my car". A lot of languages, especially Japanese, allow you to omit a lot of unnecessary words in a sentence if the meaning can be understood from the context. It's not considered proper English because there's a lot of insistence that every sentence should have a noun and a verb, that's drilled into everyone's heads in elementary school. Not needed!

  44. English picked up pieces of lots of languages because the UK has been conquered by so many VERY different cultures over the course of history. That’s my opinion, at least.

  45. Some people don’t know that with the word “the” that it’s pronounced “thuh” if the following word starts with a consonant sound and is pronounced “thee” if the following word starts with a vowel sound I say vowel sound and not just vowel because in some cases some words start with vowels but they sound like consonants such as the word “one” even though it starts with a vowel but it sounds like “W” so even though it starts with a vowel we would say thuh one not thee one (unless we are putting emphasis on “the”) otherwise we would say thuh one because even though it starts with “O” and we know that “O” is a vowel we would still say thuh one and not thee one because in this case the pronunciation sounds like “W” which is a consonant sound so that’s why I say when the following word starts with a vowel sound (not just a vowel) then it’s pronounced as “thee” and when the following word starts with a consonant sound then it’s pronounced “thuh”

  46. Some of the advantages of English over other languages: 1) Far reaching gender neutrality. Makes a lot of things easier, avoids carrying around unnecessary words and particles, makes the language less irrational than German, French or Spanish. 2) Fewer cases than many other languages. Again, easier and shorter, with specific words or phrases instead of irrationally disforming sentences with particles, which can mean dozens of other things in other contexts. Though many other languages are even more advanced in isolating meanings into separate words. 3) A clear subject-predicate-object structure. Makes for clear, concise and easy to understand sentences and paragraphs. Languages without that discipline often suffer from convoluted language and therefore unclear expression of ideas, even thinking. 4) An extremely rich vocabulary – more words than any other language I know. Allowing for nuances in meaning, tone, melody and so on which are impossible or very difficult in other languages. 5) An easy to pick up basic vocabulary and grammar, allowing foreigners to become fluent in English very quickly. 6) Very little agglutination of words or multiple prefixes/suffixes, adding to readability, removing ambiguities, removing words which have a new meaning when combined but can be found in no dictionary because no dictionary is big enough for all the possible combinations, and so on. 7) A 'corset' of often used short words with little meaning which simplifies sentence construction and is surprisingly efficient considering they often seem unnecessary: have/is/do, the/a/an, to/of, with/at/in… 8) Few special characters. Helps in sorting, automated writing, type setting and other modern language uses. And probably some more stuff that didn't come to my mind now.

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