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English is a Quirky Language

English Teacher
English is a Quirky Language
on November, 01 2013

English! It is a fusion of related dialects that have fused closely together to become what was termed as Old English that was introduced to Great Britain’s eastern coast in the 5th century by Germanic or Anglo-Saxon settlers. The term English was derived from Angles from the ancestral region of Angeln, which is now the Schleswig-Holstein, a state in Germany that is located at its most northern region.

Despite being an international language, spoken as a first language by about 360 million people and 380 million more using it as a second language, English is a language that has many quirks. Let us explore some of them.

Evolving language

You would think that English is an easy language to understand, but even students, aspiring writers, interpreters and anyone using the language encounter so many problems with the language. Readers of modern English have a difficult time understanding Old English whereas modern Chinese users can easily understand 2000-year old Chinese literature.

Did you ever wonder why some of the English words that sound the same can be spelled differently? How about words that are spelled in the same way yet have different meaning and pronunciations? Take for example this sentence, “Since there is no time like the present, I will present the present. Here are a few more. “Time flies like an arrow.” “Fruit flies like apples.” With differences such as this, maybe your frustration with applications that check spelling and grammar will be lessened, or you wish that someone will come up with a more powerful application that can understand the quirkiness of the English language. The adoption of foreign words also complicates matters. Most English speakers are more familiar with the word “fiancé,” a French word that is easier to pronounce than the native language word, “betrothed.”

Idiosyncrasies of the English language

Depending on your perspective, the idiosyncrasies of the English language can either be exasperating or enchanting. You say that a fair price is something’s worth yet worthless is the opposite of priceless. When you send something you can ship freight by car or truck but how come cargo is sent by ship? Of course there is an explanation for this quirkiness. English is not chemistry or math and it does not operate under laws that are constant. It is because a living language is an evolving language and its social acceptance and usage is what determines its correctness.

Let’s have some fun

The plural of foot is feet, but why is it that the plural of boot is boots and not beet? If a goose is joined by another one, you call them geese, although moose is moose even if there several of them. Did you ever question why there is no egg in eggplant or why is there no pine or apple in pineapple? A guinea pig is not a pig and it did not come from Guinea. Of course you also have to question why feet smell and noses run.


Bernadine Racoma

Bernadine is a writer, researcher, professional and multi-awarded blogger and new media consultant. She brings with her a rich set of experience in the corporate world, as well as in the field of research and writing. Having taken early retirement after working as an international civil servant and traveling the world for 22 years, she has aggressively pursued her main interest in writing and research. You can also find Bernadine Racoma at .

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