English isn't uniquely expressive or fluid, but it is uniquely, dysfunctionally weird

My view is “anything goes”.

How is that prescriptivist?

If this subject interests you, check out the fantastic History of English Podcast. Highly recommended.



Quoth the native-speaker. :stuck_out_tongue:


these anxieties about what are proper English words only intensified as the language moved from late middle to early modern English in the 1500s. There was an infux of new words that coincided with the english literature renaissance of Donne, Jonson, Shakespeare etc. Writers accused of introducing foreign and concoted words were deemed to be “inkhorning”.

It seems that introducing questionable and suspect words didn’t debase English, instead it lead to a richness of expression and a flowering of literature…at least that’s what I argued in my second year English lit paper.


Well that would explain the dominance of English as a universal language. The only other explanations are the almighty dollar and American exceptionalism, but I hear some minor European country actually discovered English before us.

I’ve learned bits and pieces of a bunch of languages - I’m like a sponge for them - and I’m absolutely sure English is bizarrely difficult. People are complaining about gendered nouns? How hard could it be to remember “spirit” is masculine in Latin, feminine in Greek, and neuter in Hebrew?

And people complain about Japanese, when half their vocabulary is borrowed from English. All you have to remember is to leave out all nouns and pronouns and rely on your audience to “read the atmosphere.” It’s a language of nothing but verbs and particles. Naisu aidia!


Can I please escape our current political debacle(s) for just a few fucking minutes without you interjecting it/them into a completely unrelated linguistic discussion? My doctor says turning into a rage-filled mountain of green muscles is really bad for my blood pressure.

Or you claim that it was a joke the other didn’t get. That’s at least half of English humour.


The nice thing about the English language is that there are so many of it.

I can talk kiwi as.
I can speak the Queen’s English with adequate facility.
I can shoot the shit with my American buddies.
In German English I also can be understood.
Chinese English, I speak no problem.
An’ ah can have a wee blether in Scots an aw, but Scots is nae fuckin’ English.


Dont we all speak American nowadays? (with accents)

In my personal experience, English is not uniquely expressive, but I find it to be very fluid. As a natural German speaker, I even think my outward personality changes somewhat when I’m using English (even more so when I’ve had a beer or two). I feel looser, just slinging about words and phrases in a way I couldn’t do in German. At the same time, when I’m feeling tense for some reason, my English becomes worse.


As a dyslexic native English speaker, I might have found learning to speak English easy enough, but spelling it is a bloody nightmare. Equally, my foreign friends complain that they might be able to read and understand written English, but that gives them no idea of how to pronounce a given word. (The word in question was plough, although I now realise that the yanks spell it more sensibly ‘plow’).

Fuck no, they can’t even say aluminium properly! :wink:
It does seem that most non-native speakers learn from watching a lot of US TV and films, so they tend to have more of an American accent.


Yeah, that’s certainly a thing. When I started to learn English in school, we supposedly learned “British English”. Including spelling and vocabulary. I think our schools still pretend to work that way.

However, in reality, English language imports are by far from the United States, be it movies, tv series, comics, technical documentation, etc. So people switch from -re to -er (especially us Germans, since it’s in line with our spelling) and drop the “u” from “colour” and others.

We may have learned “torch” and “lorry”, but we use “flashlight” and “truck” - often nit being aware that there’s a regional difference, since hey, it’s all English to me.

I didn’t even realize that the American edition of Harry Potter had changes in its vocabulary, because the American terms feel normal to me, while most distinctly British words make me stop a bit.


That technique is used by douchebros everywhere to be retroactively funny.

Stand You under, that english Grammar different from german Grammar is.

I am speak best Russian English.

I am far from dyslexic, but I spelling English words is a nightmare. There are different spelling rules for different languages of origin, so you often have to know where a word comes from in order to spell it correctly.

Then there’s this shit:

Kerb or curb? Tyre or tire? Gaol or jail?


The Chaos, by Gerard Nolst Trenité

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, hear and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word.

Sword and sward, retain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it’s written).
Made has not the sound of bade,
Say-said, pay-paid, laid but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak,
Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak ,


A very minor point of order, but that should read either “Scots isnae fuckin’ English,” or “Scots is no’ fuckin’ English.” Fuckin’ language, aye?

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.