This post was edited by dostoevskydr at 2016-6-27 13:27|
English is a pretty important language, and it’s spoken pretty much around the world. Have you ever traveled to Europe, and found it difficult to find someone who didn’t have at least some English conversational skills? It’s a pretty hard thing to do. Despite English’s significant role around the world, there’s a lot of interesting facts about the language that most people don’t know about.
English Is A Lingua Franca
English is considered the lingua franca of the world. That means it’s the language used as a form of communication between people who speak different languages. For example, a German and Swede might not know each other’s languages, but there’s a good chance they will know English. Both of them can use English in order to communicate to one another. This is exactly how a lingua franca works.
Most speakers of English are non-native speakers. In other words, they weren’t born and raised in places where English is considered a native tongue. It’s also a common second language to learn. According to certain studies, 77 percent of Europeans learn English as a foreign language which is more than any other language taught in school.
English is also the dominant language of science. The Internet is also a place where English triumphs since 80 percent of the world’s information is stored in the English language. Journal research articles have been frequently increasing in the number of English versions being published.
Why English reigns above all other languages has been the subject of debate among scholars everywhere. A common argument is that the extent of the British Empire during the 16th to 20th centuries, making it one of the largest empires in human history, has contributed significantly to its legacy throughout the world.
English Is A Germanic Language
English is a Germanic language. This doesn’t mean that it’s German, but both languages do come from the same mother language.
English, more specifically, is a West Germanic language. It is a branch of the Germanic family of languages which include Dutch and German. This means that these languages are similar to one another in grammar, vocabulary, syntax and verb usage. Have you ever tried learning German or Dutch? If so, you’ll notice that certain characteristics of both languages will seem oddly familiar. The Germanic language family also includes the North Germanic languages of Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Faroese, and Icelandic. Together, these languages share a common mother language called Proto-Germanic which eventually evolved into all the Germanic languages we have today. It’s safe to say that English has got quite an extended family out there.
English has had more than 1,400 years of evolution in order to become the language it is today. The language was brought over by the migration of Anglo-Saxons to the British Isles from Europe. The mixture of the dialects spoken by these people is what formed Old English.
English Used To Have Grammatical Gender
If you ever tried learning a foreign language, you’ll notice that most languages (especially European) have what is called grammatical gender. When we look at English now, grammatical gender has been limited to gender-specific pronouns such as “He” and “She.” Nouns in modern English have no grammatical gender, and the default “The” is used as the definite article for all nouns. But it never used to be that way.
Old English made extensive use of grammatical gender. In fact, English used to have three gender forms in its grammar. Nouns were categorized into these three classes; masculine, feminine, and neuter. Adjectives, articles, and grammatical cases had to agree with the rules associated of each gender noun class. As you’ve probably already noticed, this is way different compared to the grammar of English today.
In Old English, the word for “sun” was “sunne,” and classified as a feminine noun using the feminine definite article “s?o.” If we were going to say “the sun” in Old English, it would be “seo sunne.” Similarly, the word for “moon” was “mona,” and classified as a masculine noun while the word for “wife” was “wif” and classified as a neuter noun. Both nouns must have definite articles that agree with their gender. “The moon” would then be “se mona,” and “the wife” would be “þaet wif.”
English Used To Be Really Complicated
We already went over that the language used to have grammatical gender which is something completely foreign to native English speakers today. But it gets even scarier than that.
Old English had a complex morphology. It was an extremely inflected language which means that endings were attached to words to convey what was being said. Some endings marked words to indicate which grammatical case they were in—subject, direct object, indirect object, possession, and objects of prepositions. This enabled speakers of Old English to use words in a sentence in a much more flexible order. The word order of modern English is much more important to convey meaning than Old English.
For example, in the English sentence “The dog went to the park,” we can see that the meaning is clear. If we were to change the sentence, however, the meaning changes drastically. “The park went to the dog.” We know that this makes no sense in modern English, but in Old English, the nouns “dog” and “park” would have had endings on them in order to convey what is the subject and what is the indirect object. Therefore, a sentence like “The park went to the dog” would have been completely acceptable in Old English.
It gets even crazier. The endings on these words must agree with the gender of the noun, the number (singular or plural), and the grammatical case. All of these different combinations produces an impressive number of ways to convey speech in English, and is far more complicated than the morphology of modern English.