Have you ever wondered where our English comes from.Where did some of the words we use originate?Almost 300 million people speak English. What can be said for a languge that has so many meanings for a word,i.e. fly: ok this can mean an annoying insect, a way to travel or a part of a man’s pants.Just imagine being from another country and trying to understand American English.It is full of booby traps.
In English we have ‘house’ & ‘home’ yet in French thay have no way to distinguish between the two. We also tend to spell things in a rather unique way, for instance why do we say comb with a long o yet bomb with a short o? Yet come is pronounced k-u-m not as it looks which would be with a long o sound. we use langauge in such a way as to confuse almost everyone who isn’t a native speaker.Even if you are from England ,America has words which mean something completely different.
A large number of our words do double duty: like drink,fight,sleep,run,look ,act, these words are often used as both nouns and verbs. We use the word ‘what’ every day,yet can you explain to a foreigner what it means?After all it takes the dictionary 5 pages and almost 15,000 words to do just that.As native speakers we very seldom stop to think just how illogical our language really is.Why do we say colonel as if there was an “r: in it? Why do we spell 4 as f-o-u-r yet 40 as f-o-r-t-y? Did you ever wonder why some words are spelled as they are? Like knife or knight? It doesn’t seem to make much sense , but if we were to pronounce them as they are spelled we would say “k’nife or k’night.
There was a time when the ‘e’ at the end of words was pronounced also.Sounds strang-ee doesn’t it?When you travel from 1 state to another here in America you can be sure that even if the local dialect is a bit different, at least you can be understood.At one time if you traveled scarceley 50 miles from home you entered a foreign country it seemed. For example in 1490 a group of sailors from London traveled down the “Thames: river toward Holland and found themselves “becalmed in Kent”. Being hungry they approached a farm and asked the farmers wife for “mete and specyally axyed after eggys” however the woman could not understand them and replied that she “”speke no frenshe”. You see in Kent eggs were ‘eyren’.
Here are a few words we use daily that at first glance don’t appear to be unusual yet look again.: heard- beard,
road-broad,five-give,fillet-skillet,early-dearly do you see where this is going? They are all spelled with same combination of letters yet pronounced differently.
We even have words that seem to defy explanation such as the words which end in -gry.like angry, hungry, how many wors do you know which end in gry?Why do we spell things the way we do, instead of the way they sound? For example: freight sounds like frate does it not? Or groop instead of group. If we were to spell things as they are pronounced we would all have failed our spelling in school. Or shud I say skool! If fer instens I was too say that I wus hungy wud you no wut I ment? Looks very strange doesn’t it.
Remember that English has borrrowed and stolen words from almost every other tongue out there, from German to French to Latin and some how created for itself a unique language all its own.Aren’t you glad to be an English speaker? Or should I have said “speeker”.