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Why is English so weirdly different from other langu... English speakers know that their language is odd. So do people saddled with learning it non-natively. The oddity that we all perceive most readily is its spelling, which is indeed a nightmare. In countries where English isn’t spoken, there is no such thing as a ‘spelling bee’ competition. For a normal language, spelling at least pretends a basic correspondence to the way people pronounce the words. But English is not normal. Spelling is a matter of writing, of course, whereas language is fundamentally about speaking.

There is no other language, for example, that is close enough to English that we can get about half of what people are saying without training and the rest with only modest effort. We think it’s a nuisance that so many European languages assign gender to nouns for no reason, with French having female moons and male boats and such. More weirdness? Why is our language so eccentric? Get Aeon straight to your inbox. 25 maps that explain the English language. By Libby Nelson on March 3, 2015 English is the language of Shakespeare and the language of Chaucer.

25 maps that explain the English language

It's spoken in dozens of countries around the world, from the United States to a tiny island named Tristan da Cunha. It reflects the influences of centuries of international exchange, including conquest and colonization, from the Vikings through the 21st century. Here are 25 maps and charts that explain how English got started and evolved into the differently accented languages spoken today. The origins of English Where English comes fromEnglish, like more than 400 other languages, is part of the Indo-European language family, sharing common roots not just with German and French but with Russian, Hindi, Punjabi, and Persian. Learn a Language - Share a Language -

23 maps and charts on language. By Dylan Matthews on April 15, 2015 "The limits of my language," the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once posited, "mean the limits of my world.

23 maps and charts on language

" Explaining everything within the limits of the world is probably too ambitious a goal for a list like this. But here are 23 maps and charts that can hopefully illuminate small aspects of how we manage to communicate with one another. The basics Indo-European language rootsMinna Sundberg, a Finnish-Swedish comic artist, created this beautiful tree to illustrate both the relationships between European and central Asian languages generally, as well as a smaller but still striking point: Finnish has less in common with, say, Swedish than Persian or Hindi do. Language divides Bilingualism Who in Europe speaks EnglishMany countries have more than one commonly used language, with many residents learning two or more. English American English.

Linguistic Evolution. Literature and changes in language. How Language Works (Edition 3.0): Table of Contents. Origin of languages: Tower of Babel, proto-languages, and the brothers Grimm. The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (image via Wikimedia) The Tower of Babel story is a fanciful attempt to account for a very real question: What was the first language and why are there now so many of them?

Origin of languages: Tower of Babel, proto-languages, and the brothers Grimm

The video below from TED Ed shows a brief history of how languages evolve, as speakers of the same language lose contact with each other in the centuries after migration and gradually drift linguistically in different directions. What's most interesting is not simply how we got multiple languages but rather how we determine, without the benefit of a time machine, which modern languages are related.

World Atlas of Linguistic Structures, Feature 138A: Tea by Östen Dahl Similarities that are solid evidence of common ancestry may at first not look like similarities at all. And unfortunately, this means that any theory of the first human language must be based on pretty darn flimsy evidence. Foreign Language Vocabulary, Grammar, and Readings. The evidence is in: there is no language instinct — ... Imagine you’re a traveller in a strange land.

The evidence is in: there is no language instinct — ...

A local approaches you and starts jabbering away in an unfamiliar language. He seems earnest, and is pointing off somewhere. But you can’t decipher the words, no matter how hard you try. That’s pretty much the position of a young child when she first encounters language. In fact, she would seem to be in an even more challenging position. In the 1960s, the US linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky offered what looked like a solution. At a stroke, this device removes the pain of learning one’s mother tongue, and explains how a child can pick up a native language in such a short time.

Get Aeon straight to your inbox But let’s back up a little. What is in dispute is the claim that knowledge of language itself – the language software – is something that each human child is born with. There are two basic arguments for the existence of this language instinct. Chomsky’s second argument shifts the focus to the abilities of the child. The evolution of English.