English Language Day
English is the most widely-spoken language in the world and has become the de facto lingua franca for businessmen and travellers alike. Join us as we celebrate the historical fusion that is the English language, what makes it so difficult to learn, and the oddities that make it unique!
English has been through many transformative stages, having been influenced by exposure and bowing to trends of other languages throughout the centuries. For example, after the Norman Conquest, the resulting language was so far removed from what came previously that it’s theorised that modern English emerged as a pidgin language between Old English and French – a grammatically simplified means of communication which developed between two groups of people with no common language, making it easier for them to communicate in daily situations.
This could account for many of the current characteristics of the language as we know it today, such as the heavy influence of French on the lexicon, but it’s important to note that this has only ever been accepted as one possible theory. The language continues to develop its individuality as it has splintered off into the United States, Australia and everywhere else where it holds official status.
Although English doesn’t have gender cases like many other languages, its quirks in grammar can make it difficult for non-native speakers. Even native speakers make grammatical errors everyday, like substituting “they’re” for “there”, or using “affect” and “effect” interchangeably. It seems that more rules are broken than adhered to!
Despite it’s difficulties, its wide usage makes it one of the most popular second languages to learn for non-native speakers. Countless institutions offer TEFL and TESOL courses to enable native and fluent speakers to teach English in a more colloquial and real-world setting.
Teaching the language overseas is becoming an increasingly common career path. This is because it has many uses internationally. For example, have you ever noticed that regardless of which airline you fly with, your location or destination, the pilots introduce themselves in English? It is a requirement for all pilots and air traffic control operatives to be able to communicate in English for safety reasons. Having a common language enables all radio correspondence to be understood across the board.
The Quirks of the English Language
Here are some more unusual facts about the English language and it’s borrowings from other nations it has come into contact with throughout it’s history:
- A “moment” can seem a very irregular concept, but in Medieval times it was a specific unit of time, equating to around 90 seconds. This was devised by breaking down solar hours, which of course varied by season, but the hour was divided into 40 momenta.
- It’s nice to know that in English, the word “happy” is used three times more often than the word “sad”.
- There were only two words ending in -gry. These were Angry and Hungry, but since the recent introduction of the hybrid word “hangry” to the dictionary, that makes three!
- The most famous chess-related phrase which has found it’s way into common usage is “checkmate”. This however comes from an Arabic phrase, “shah mat” translating as “the king is helpless”.
- It’s estimated that, although English is classed as a Germanic language, only 26% of its origins stem from old Germanic sources. 29% is derived from Latin, 29% is French (including the Anglo-French mix of the Norman period) and the final 16% is from other sources.
- English has five written vowels to represent 15 spoken vowel sounds. This is yet another factor making it difficult to learn, as most languages usually have around five to contend with.
- There is no word in the language that rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple.
- Due to a printing error, there was a word in the dictionary from 1932 to 1940 which didn’t have a meaning. The word was ‘Dord’ and it became known as ‘ghost word’.
Thinking of Teaching English Abroad?
If you are planning to teach English abroad or have a job offer in an International School overseas, Vital Legalisation can help you translate and attest your documents for your visa and work permits. Just click here, or click the link below to go to our website to find out more.