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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 English started out as, essentially, a kind of German.

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The World's Most Spoken Languages And Where They Are Spoken This beautifully illustrated infographic (above), designed by South China Morning Post’s graphics director Alberto Lucas Lopéz, shows the most spoken known languages in the world and where they’re spoken by the 6.3 billion people included in the study. Based on records collated from the database Ethnologue, the infographic illustrates the wide-ranging facts and figures of the world’s living languages catalogued since 1951. “There are at least 7,102 known languages alive in the world today. Twenty-three of these languages are a mother tongue for more than 50 million people. The 23 languages make up the native tongue of 4.1 billion people,” says Lopez on his infographic.

President Obama & Marilynne Robinson: A Conversation—II by Barack Obama and Marilynne Robinson The following conversation between President Obama and Marilynne Robinson was conducted in Des Moines, Iowa, on September 14. An audio recording of the conversation can be heard at itunes.com/nybooks. The first part appeared in the November 5 issue of The New York Review. Everyone Speaks Text Message Illustration by The Heads of State Illustration by The Heads of State How do you spell “N'Ko” in N'Ko? For years, the Web’s lingua franca was English. Speakers of French, Hindi and Urdu, Arabic, Chinese and Russian chafed at the advantage the Internet gave not only American pop culture but also its language.

The evidence is in: there is no language instinct — ... Imagine you’re a traveller in a strange land. 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.

Why Do Most Languages Have So Few Words for Smells? Describe a banana. It's yellow, perhaps with some green edges. When peeled, it has a smooth, soft, mushy texture. It tastes sweet, maybe a little creamy. And it smells like... well, it smells like a banana. Every sense has its own “lexical field,” a vast palette of dedicated descriptive words for colors, sounds, tastes, and textures. The case of the missing “u”s in American English Before you consciously became aware of your decision to read this article, your brain was already making the necessary preparations to click the link. There are a few crucial milliseconds between the moment when you’re consciously aware of a plan to act, and the moment you take action. This brief window is thought by some scientists to be the moment in time when we can exercise free will. It gives us the chance to consciously make a decision, suggesting we aren’t just slaves to our impulses. But, as the New Scientist reports, a study published in Neuroscience of Consciousness last year found that impulsive people have a shorter window of time between their awareness of an impending action and the act itself.

Activities for correcting writing in the language classroom How can teachers encourage learners to correct their own writing? Second-time winner of TeachingEnglish blog award, Cristina Cabal, offers a few tried and tested error-correction activities. Does every single writing error need to be corrected? In the learning of a second language, this is a question that stirs up great controversy.

Why Do Americans and Brits Have Different Accents? In 1776, whether you were declaring America independent from the crown or swearing your loyalty to King George III, your pronunciation would have been much the same. At that time, American and British accents hadn't yet diverged. What's surprising, though, is that Hollywood costume dramas get it all wrong: The Patriots and the Redcoats spoke with accents that were much closer to the contemporary American accent than to the Queen's English. It is the standard British accent that has drastically changed in the past two centuries, while the typical American accent has changed only subtly. Traditional English, whether spoken in the British Isles or the American colonies, was largely "rhotic." Rhotic speakers pronounce the "R" sound in such words as "hard" and "winter," while non-rhotic speakers do not.

Fame for 23 Words is 15,000 Years Overdue - Issue 5: Fame Remember when everything was “2.0?” Michelle Obama was Jackie Kennedy Onassis 2.0? Facebook was considered an example of Web 2.0? Is Beirut the codeswitching capital of the world? At this high-end organic farmer’s market in downtown Beirut, buyers and sellers speak a mishmash of languages, usually Arabic and English or French. Just trying to pay for juice I have to switch back and forth from English to Arabic. The stand clerk starts in Arabic, “Here you go,” before switching in English, “these two [juices]?” Pia Bou Khater is at the market with me. At the juice stand, she switches too. The secret language of South Asia’s transgender community — Quartz In South Asia, there is a hidden language known only to the region’s hijra community. Found in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, the hijra are an old and marginalized group, whose members identify as men born with the souls of women. Hijras call themselves she-males and effigies, as well as kwaja sera, or the “guards of the harem,” a title that recalls their historical role serving monarchs in the region. These days, the hijra are known as performers and panhandlers.

Behind the News Weekdays: 02/06/2017 watch BTN Investigates Have you seen or heard something in the news you'd like explained?Add Question Welcome Book Gallery Over 12,000 kids have sent in their message to refugees.View

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