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BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn

katlaughing 10 Aug 01 - 04:33 PM
Sorcha 10 Aug 01 - 04:41 PM
Charley Noble 10 Aug 01 - 04:48 PM
Hollowfox 10 Aug 01 - 04:49 PM
Hollowfox 10 Aug 01 - 04:51 PM
GUEST,Sam 10 Aug 01 - 04:56 PM
paddymac 10 Aug 01 - 05:06 PM
GUEST 10 Aug 01 - 05:13 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 10 Aug 01 - 05:20 PM
Don Firth 10 Aug 01 - 05:24 PM
Daystar 10 Aug 01 - 05:24 PM
GUEST,Sam 10 Aug 01 - 05:32 PM
Sorcha 10 Aug 01 - 05:37 PM
GUEST 10 Aug 01 - 05:46 PM
katlaughing 10 Aug 01 - 05:49 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 10 Aug 01 - 05:53 PM
Bill D 10 Aug 01 - 05:56 PM
katlaughing 10 Aug 01 - 06:05 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 10 Aug 01 - 06:05 PM
GUEST,Ealewyn Maas 10 Aug 01 - 06:23 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 10 Aug 01 - 06:31 PM
Gareth 10 Aug 01 - 06:44 PM
Shields Folk 10 Aug 01 - 06:48 PM
Firecat 10 Aug 01 - 07:03 PM
Shields Folk 10 Aug 01 - 07:06 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 10 Aug 01 - 07:29 PM
Firecat 10 Aug 01 - 07:31 PM
RangerSteve 10 Aug 01 - 07:43 PM
catspaw49 10 Aug 01 - 07:51 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 10 Aug 01 - 08:06 PM
Jeanie 10 Aug 01 - 08:06 PM
Shields Folk 10 Aug 01 - 08:08 PM
Ebbie 10 Aug 01 - 09:31 PM
Little Hawk 10 Aug 01 - 09:36 PM
toadfrog 10 Aug 01 - 10:07 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 10 Aug 01 - 11:00 PM
Bill D 11 Aug 01 - 12:01 AM
Bert 11 Aug 01 - 12:50 AM
Fiolar 11 Aug 01 - 06:14 AM
mytoycar 11 Aug 01 - 06:28 AM
Brían 11 Aug 01 - 09:27 AM
fox4zero 11 Aug 01 - 01:01 PM
katlaughing 11 Aug 01 - 01:24 PM
GUEST,CFJS 11 Aug 01 - 01:52 PM
vindelis 11 Aug 01 - 02:23 PM
vindelis 11 Aug 01 - 02:43 PM
Mr Red 11 Aug 01 - 02:51 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 11 Aug 01 - 03:10 PM
Ebbie 11 Aug 01 - 04:35 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 11 Aug 01 - 06:26 PM
Charley Noble 11 Aug 01 - 08:22 PM
Crazy Eddie 12 Aug 01 - 01:02 AM
Ebbie 12 Aug 01 - 01:11 AM
GUEST,chuck 12 Aug 01 - 01:29 AM
katlaughing 12 Aug 01 - 03:10 AM
Crazy Eddie 12 Aug 01 - 05:11 AM
Mr Red 12 Aug 01 - 05:35 AM
vindelis 12 Aug 01 - 05:58 AM
katlaughing 12 Aug 01 - 09:50 AM
Bill D 12 Aug 01 - 12:23 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 12 Aug 01 - 12:47 PM
katlaughing 12 Aug 01 - 01:08 PM
ponytrax 12 Aug 01 - 01:30 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 12 Aug 01 - 01:54 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 12 Aug 01 - 02:36 PM
katlaughing 12 Aug 01 - 03:07 PM
Charley Noble 12 Aug 01 - 07:52 PM
Bill D 12 Aug 01 - 08:10 PM
Bill D 12 Aug 01 - 08:28 PM
Bill D 12 Aug 01 - 08:35 PM
katlaughing 12 Aug 01 - 09:10 PM
GUEST,random 12 Aug 01 - 10:14 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 12 Aug 01 - 11:40 PM
Ringer 13 Aug 01 - 04:41 AM
Wolfgang 13 Aug 01 - 08:20 AM
Wolfgang 13 Aug 01 - 08:24 AM
pavane 13 Aug 01 - 08:51 AM
GUEST,jaze 13 Aug 01 - 09:31 AM
katlaughing 13 Aug 01 - 10:58 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 13 Aug 01 - 11:07 AM
pavane 13 Aug 01 - 11:07 AM
pavane 13 Aug 01 - 11:10 AM
Bill D 13 Aug 01 - 01:31 PM
Kim C 13 Aug 01 - 05:11 PM
RangerSteve 13 Aug 01 - 11:09 PM
Kim C 14 Aug 01 - 10:51 AM
GUEST,Steve 14 Aug 01 - 11:27 AM
jeffp 14 Aug 01 - 11:33 AM
CRANKY YANKEE 14 Aug 01 - 02:27 PM
Arnie 14 Aug 01 - 04:07 PM
SharonA 14 Aug 01 - 07:28 PM
Shields Folk 14 Aug 01 - 07:51 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 14 Aug 01 - 11:09 PM
Ringer 09 Sep 01 - 01:50 PM
ard mhacha 09 Sep 01 - 03:35 PM
bernil 09 Sep 01 - 05:36 PM
marymarymary 09 Sep 01 - 05:51 PM
katlaughing 09 Sep 01 - 06:04 PM
Willa 09 Sep 01 - 06:40 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 09 Sep 01 - 08:04 PM
AliUK 09 Sep 01 - 09:44 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 09 Sep 01 - 11:53 PM
Ringer 10 Sep 01 - 05:26 AM
bernil 10 Sep 01 - 08:58 AM
bernil 10 Sep 01 - 09:10 AM
Ringer 10 Sep 01 - 09:17 AM
Wilfried Schaum 10 Sep 01 - 09:45 AM
GUEST,Tracey Dragonsfriend 10 Sep 01 - 10:50 AM
Arnie 10 Sep 01 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,Tracey Dragonsfriend 10 Sep 01 - 02:22 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 10 Sep 01 - 03:01 PM
katlaughing 10 Sep 01 - 04:44 PM
O'Trasno 10 Sep 01 - 04:47 PM
bernil 10 Sep 01 - 05:00 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 10 Sep 01 - 05:56 PM
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O'Trasno 10 Sep 01 - 06:30 PM
AliUK 10 Sep 01 - 08:03 PM

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Subject: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: katlaughing
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 04:33 PM

IT'S SUPPOSED TO SAY "BS"...SORRY!

Worth sharing, I think. **BG**

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.

English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France.

Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese?

One index, 2 indices?

Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend.

If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them,what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?

Ship by truck and send cargo by ship?

Park in a driveway, and drive on a parkway?

Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all.

That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible

P.S. Why doesn't "buick" rhyme with "quick"?


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Subject: RE: Help: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Sorcha
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 04:41 PM

Gallagher used to do something like this. It was hilarious! Thanks, kat!


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Subject: RE: Help: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 04:48 PM

You're right. English is "pretty bad".;-)


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Subject: RE: Help: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Hollowfox
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 04:49 PM

And then there's that anthology of early writings and drawings by Dr. Seuss:"The Tough Coughs as he Ploughs the Dough". (Morrow, 1987) (me, obsessive with those citations? Well, sometimes, but this time I just wanted to reassure you all that I'm not making this up. *g*)


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Subject: RE: Help: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Hollowfox
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 04:51 PM

Charley, I prefer to think of it as "wicked good".


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Subject: RE: Help: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: GUEST,Sam
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 04:56 PM

Great stuff Kat, Thanks

A couple of points:

I 'think' it's only Americans who 'fill out' forms, here in England, we 'fill them in'

Also Buick does rhyme with Quick. at least where I'm from...

Sam


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Subject: RE: Help: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: paddymac
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 05:06 PM

Went to Two, too. Might, mite; Site, cite;

ad nauseum!

I have the greatest respect for anyone who undertakes English as a second language. It seems as though the primary rule is to break all the rules.


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Subject: RE: Help: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 05:13 PM

i before e except after c

works for receive

not such a good rule for spelling science


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Subject: RE: Help: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 05:20 PM

English is an agglomerative language. Italian is heavily derived from Latin but English has Norse, Teutonic, Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, French and Latin roots (may have missed some) plus more than a soupcon of aboriginal and oriental, Spanish, French and Italian, German, etc.,etc. words. In addition, the words of Latin derivation came from the Church, the Latin brought into French, changed, and given us by the Norman invasion, scholarly Latin, and the Latin invented by scientists to apply in botany, zoology, etc. KatL. missed a good one on bow- bow in the hair, bow the violin, bow and arrow, and the other bow (bough), bow of a ship, bow to a monarch, etc. I have heard experienced newscasters miss on that one. Now add all of the dialects such as Australian, Scots, Celtic, Yorkshire, Cockney and what H. L. Mencken called "The American Language" (see his book) and we have a real OLLA PODRIDA. It is what makes the English language the business language of the world because it is so flexible and encompassing. I also think it is what makes the language interesting and fun!


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Subject: RE: Help: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Don Firth
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 05:24 PM

Shelley Berman had a pretty funny schtick on plurals. The only thing I can remember right now though is "One mouse, two mice; one blouse, two blice." More when (if) I can remember them.

Musically speaking, a French horn is not French, it's derived from an English hunting horn, and an English horn is not a horn, it's a woodwind. **Bleaugh!!**

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Help: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Daystar
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 05:24 PM

Help Iam English but all these are just confusing to some one with dyslexia!!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Help: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: GUEST,Sam
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 05:32 PM

Daystar,

What sort of help would you like?

There are lots of dyslexia resorces on the web, a couple of threads here too

Sam

how come dyslexics always know how to spell dyslexia?? (sorry, cheap joke)


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Subject: RE: Help: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Sorcha
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 05:37 PM

I read the red book. Can you read?


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Subject: RE: Help: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 05:46 PM

French isn't too regular either you know, nor Spanish, German, Italian etc

Lets not be too harsh on English.

After all, it's what made America great!!


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Subject: RE: Help: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: katlaughing
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 05:49 PM

Dicho, it wasn't me who wrote up the original, I just passed it on. Don't want to take undue credit. Good one on the "bow.":-)


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Subject: RE: Help: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 05:53 PM

i before e except after c and in WEIRD words. Append list. We must mention the tendency to invent new word usage to take care of political and social correctness. Then there are the jerks who invent all of the unnecessary terms for computer users. Why spam and not junk mail, software instead of programs, etc. How many people say impact instead of affect and effect (fuzzying up the language, to coin another unnecessary word), say proactive when they mean active.


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Subject: RE: Help: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 05:56 PM

"The wind was rough,
And cold and blough..
She kept her hands
Inside her mough."

there is a newsgroup called japan.lang.english.communication, where Japanese trying to learn English post questions & comments, trying to discern 'rules' and correct usage...it can be funny, sad, silly, astounding...and more. One of the funniest was a LONG discussion of the meaning of "hold the mustard" when referring to a hamburger...


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: katlaughing
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 06:05 PM

proactive - antiactive=a sloth?

Oh, Bill, I can just imagine, esp. with the Grey Poupon mustard commercials in mind, with the posh holding the bottle of mustard!

kat


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Subject: RE: Help: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 06:05 PM

A Dutch friend said he was going to take a douche. We found out he meant shower.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: GUEST,Ealewyn Maas
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 06:23 PM

I hab not find the Eenglhish soo hard to learned. I am so good to speaking the Eenglish now that most peoples they understand almoste every word I saying. For me it is langwage witout paralell in world. Only what means dymbass? I am thinking it is meaning some kinds of stupid? Yes? Please to enlighting me.

Ealewyn Maas


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 06:31 PM

Nothing so base as a base player balling the jack.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Gareth
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 06:44 PM

English evolves, it is only chauvenistic fools who try to keep a linguistic purity - such as the French or North Waliams.

Any how, when you look at the various infiltrations into the Saxon linga from precursors such as the various varieties of the Celtic and Brython tounges, and Latin, through Norse, French, and "colonial" imports, how much is english english - comprende O.K. ?

It's easier to spell software rather than program(e), and to revive the "Spam" wartime story - its bland, soft, and everybody gets it ! - perfect for electronic junk mail.

Anyway I am bilingual - I speak Swelsh and Sarf Lundun.

Gareth


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Shields Folk
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 06:48 PM

So not English then?


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Firecat
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 07:03 PM

Eh?????

Seriously though, there was apparently some people who tried to simplify spelling in the 19th Century, but it fell through.

Tipikal. I wud hav prifered it to bee simplifyd, cos it wud bee eeseer and it wudn't matter if yoo cudn't spel rite! AND yoo wudn't get anoyin wurds like "Disciplinary" that ar reely dificult to spell!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Shields Folk
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 07:06 PM

English is a language to be spoken.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 07:29 PM

English is a language to be spoken? Aren't they all? To get back to computer lingo, spam makes me want to url my cookies.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Firecat
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 07:31 PM

Well, yeah, you've got a point there Shields Folk, BUT I'm an English student and you should see the length of the essays I have to write! 3000 words in 90 minutes! Not easy for me, cos if I want it to be legible I have to write really slowly. It's easier on computers! You get spell checkers on computers as well but you don't if you're writing by hand, and in my essays you get points knocked off for misspelt words, so I always end up losing marks if I've used words like "Definate" for something that is certain, or "Stationery" for something that's not moving. It's not as easy as it seems!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: RangerSteve
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 07:43 PM

We don't have a formal and informal "you", we don't apply different genders to inanimate objects, thus requiring variations on "the". For those reasons alone I'm glad it's my native language.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: catspaw49
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 07:51 PM

I fayl tu see the problem. Inglish iz an ez langwaj tu lern.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 08:06 PM

A Chicago newspaper tried to simplify by changing the GK. ph to f, as in fotography, as the Spanish do. I believe the Toronto Globe and Mail is starting to leave out the u in harbor (and other American non-u words) to more closely match majority usage in North America. There is a basic English (horrid thought), limited, I believe, to 800 words. Pidgin is better.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Jeanie
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 08:06 PM

Quite right, Ranger Steve ! (Are you on first name terms with Yogi Bear and Booboo, by the way, or is that an old joke by now ?) As a very-glad-to-be-only-part-time-teacher-of-German, also in English we don't have a case system which draws a distinction between saying "I came into the room" (Accusative Case) and "I am sitting in the room" (Dative Case) and other wunderbare things. One big drawback, in English we don't have really long and easily pronouncable words like: Schnellzugzuschlagschein; Kolonialwarenladen; Gassackentfaltungsgeschwindigkeitsmessgeraet undsoweiter. I'm sure the German Mudcat contributor will add a few more. Mit freundlichen Gruessen, Jeanie


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Shields Folk
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 08:08 PM

I don't know about you but I pronounce the u in harbour!


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Ebbie
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 09:31 PM

English must be an easy language- I was no more than a tot when I learned it.

:)

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Little Hawk
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 09:36 PM

GUEST Aelewyn...

I think that possibly you meant "dumbass".

It's a synonym for Spaw.

For further info, call the information desk at the NYCFTTS.

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: toadfrog
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 10:07 PM

On why English is so hard to learn, Click Here

On the other hand, the first song I ever learned in German begins:

Lernen Sie Englisch oder koennen Sie schon.
Ich gebe gerade die fuenfe Lektion.
Wenn Sie zu mir in die Unterricht geh'n,
da koennen Sie nach vierzehn Tag' Alles verstehen!
Dann brauchen Sie kein Dolmetscher mehr,
denn Englisch ist gar nicht so schwer!


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 11:00 PM

Jeanie has a point. I can translate scientific German and have had published in Germany a technical book on plant morphology and nomenclature, but I find it impossible to read the first page of a German equivalent of a Harlequin roman. The big words in scientific writing fall apart and are easily handled. You soon learn also how to do without the verb until you have completed the paragraph-long sentence as well. Gender and case stop me- except the wonderful subjunctive so loved by German scientists. Perhaps because we learn English first, it becomes extremely difficult to learn European languages. Now if the world would recognize the innate superiority of English- wouldn't it be a dull place!


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Bill D
Date: 11 Aug 01 - 12:01 AM

because English borrows so much from other languages, it is amazingly flexible....so it can be used beautifully and elegantly...or made cumbersome and stupid by ineptitude. This DOES make it difficult to learn well, and no 'simple' rules...but when it is carefully honed, it can do many things....

for example, some of G.W.F. Hegel's philosophy is so difficult in Hegel's original German, that German students regularly read it in the English translation, which seems to have 'more' words to explicate the complex concepts...


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Bert
Date: 11 Aug 01 - 12:50 AM

Software is not necessarily a program it can be other data. And a program is not necessarily software it can be embedded in the hardware where it is sometimes called firmware.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Fiolar
Date: 11 Aug 01 - 06:14 AM

Don't forget the newspaper headline which completely flummoxed a foreign student doing his best to learn English - "Pope Pronounced Worse."


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: mytoycar
Date: 11 Aug 01 - 06:28 AM

the reason english is so hard to learn is because no english person can speak their own language so how is any one else ment to


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Brían
Date: 11 Aug 01 - 09:27 AM

One moose, two meese?
Not likely!

Brían.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: fox4zero
Date: 11 Aug 01 - 01:01 PM

Katlaughing

Is there an "official" term for words that are spelled alike but have pronounced differently? Like wind (air movement) and wind (to tension a spring). I have been collecting them for years.

Larry Parish


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: katlaughing
Date: 11 Aug 01 - 01:24 PM

There sure is, Larry. Here ya go and thanks for asking. You must have quite a collection!

Main Entry: hom.onym
Pronunciation: 'hä-ma-nim
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin homonymum, from Greek homOnymon, from neuter of homOnymos
Date: 1697
1: one of two or more words spelled and pronounced alike but different in meaning (as the noun quail and the verb quail)


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: GUEST,CFJS
Date: 11 Aug 01 - 01:52 PM

I suspect there are two reasons why English is so heard to learn:

1)It is composed of many different root languages, before we start adding modern colloquialisms: Celtic,Latin, Saxon/Viking and Norman French. Giving it roots in Celtic, Latin and Germanic languages, which I understand is fairly unusual. It can become quite intresting when you look at the roots of some usages, for example a cow is a cow in the feild where the Saxon serf looked after it, but Beef on the table where a Norman lord ate it (look at the other meats, and you can work out what was not 'noble' fair).

2) When the the printing press was invented the first person to try to write a dictionary for the language took his spellings from different areas of the country, which affected the pronouncation, hence rough is pronounced ruff, whilst although is prounounced 'all tho.

I'm English and long ago came to the conclusion that there is no rhyme or reason for the way we spell or pronounce things, but that we, and the rest of the world are stuck with it. Good luck

CFJS


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: vindelis
Date: 11 Aug 01 - 02:23 PM

There is also the question of which 'English' is being taught, 'Oxford' or 'American'. When I was at Grammar School, all foreigners learnt Oxford English and spoke English with their native accent. These days American English seems to have taken over, and you don't realize they are NOT American until they revert to their native language.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: vindelis
Date: 11 Aug 01 - 02:43 PM

Of course there is also the task of paring a pair of pears.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Mr Red
Date: 11 Aug 01 - 02:51 PM

one more string to the "BOW"
beau

actually the English language (and all it's patois's) is a boon to humour. The ambiguity it presents from its myriad contributions makes the pun into an art form. And me a pundit!
contnetious??? Discus ------
(just thought I would through that in)
DISCUSS -------


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Aug 01 - 03:10 PM

Guest CFJS: The reason that rough and although are pronounced differently has nothing to do with the part of England they came from. Rough is Old High German Ruh (with umlaut) which is found in Old English. Although is a Middle English word, at leeast as old as the 14C. Also see my earlier posting on the origins of English. KatL had two rows, e.g. row of pins, row the boat, but I had a row with my better half. Try Canadian English- a mixture of Oxford, American and Franglais. Of course the Americans are pretty homogeneous compared with the Britons who show differences between upper class "Oxford" English and the English spoken by the masses. Not all dialect either. One outstanding example was "serviette." The OED maintained that the word was vulgar, since it was an unnecessary use of a foreign word. Table napkin was preferred. Canadians are often taught serviette at home and in school. Americans almost invariably use the word napkin. Now in the minds of some people, napkin gets confused with diapers or "nappies." As a result serviette is gaining ground in English upper class use. Americans as a whole have never heard "serviette" unless they have traveled.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Ebbie
Date: 11 Aug 01 - 04:35 PM

kat, I believe fox4zero was asking if there is an 'official' term for words that are spelled alike but pronounced differently, not homonyms.

I'm sure there is such a term- but it escapes me!

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Aug 01 - 06:26 PM

English dictionaries. One of the first to start putting things together was Cotgrave's Dictionary of English and French which came out in 1612. His friend, the playwright Ben Jonson, published a grammar, equally important. The word you are seeking is HETERONYM- having the same spelling but different meaning and sound. B. G. Wilder coined the term in the mid-1800s.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Charley Noble
Date: 11 Aug 01 - 08:22 PM

Anyone who is teaching in English to students who have learned it as a second (or third) language soon discovers who careful we must be in speaking. I was refering up above to "pretty hard" as meaning "very hard" and yet "pretty" more commonly means "rather beautiful" than "very" and can be confusing. There are many more odd English words waiting to be blurted out as we travel "abroad", or shall I say beyond our country's borders.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Crazy Eddie
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 01:02 AM

Just to ad my 2cents worth, I thought these were the definitions. Homophone A word which sounds the same as another, but is written differently. So, Sew
Homograph A word written the same as another, but pronounced differently. wind (air movement) and wind (to tension a spring).
My understanding is that homonym includes both of these categories.
Of course, I could be wrong. I thought I was once, but i was mistaken. :o) Eddie


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Ebbie
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 01:11 AM

Thanks, Dicho. Heteronym it is.

When I was an ESL tutor, I was continually amazed at how adept many people were at understanding our oddities, just by using context. And early on, I also was taken aback at how frequently I used slang or jargon. It took me a fair amount of time to become sensitized enough not to make their task more difficult.

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: GUEST,chuck
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 01:29 AM

Shelly Berman invented a plural word, and let the audience guess the singular: "Two jackeye."


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 03:10 AM

Thanks, Dicho, Ebbie and Crazy Eddie. That'll teach to me include all of the definitions. Homophone and homograph were there, too, I just didn't pay attention. Had not heard of heteronym. Look like homograph is also correct. Interesting connotations, these days.*bg*

Main Entry: het.ero.nym
Pronunciation: 'he-t&-r&-"nim
Function: noun
Date: circa 1889
: one of two or more homographs (as a bass voice and bass, a fish) that differ in pronunciation and meaning

Main Entry: ho.mo.graph
Pronunciation: 'hä-m&-"graf, 'hO-
Function: noun
Date: 1873
: one of two or more words spelled alike but different in meaning or derivation or pronunciation (as the bow of a ship, a bow and arrow)
- ho.mo.graph.ic /"h@-m&-'gra-fik, "hO-/ adjective

Main Entry: ho.mo.phone
Pronunciation: 'hä-m&-"fOn, 'hO-
Function: noun
Etymology: International Scientific Vocabulary
Date: 1843
1 : one of two or more words pronounced alike but different in meaning or derivation or spelling (as the words to, too, and two)
2 : a character or group of characters pronounced the same as another character or group
- ho.moph.o.nous /hO-'m@-f&-n&s/ adjective


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Crazy Eddie
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 05:11 AM

The European Commission have just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the EU, rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five year phase in plan that would be known as "EuroEnglish".

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump for joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of the "k". This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan have 1 less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with the "f".This will make words like "fotograf" 20% shorter.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent "e"s in the language is disgraseful, and they should go away.

By the 4th year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v". During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After zis fifz year, ve vil hav a realy sensibl riten styl. zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi to understand each ozer.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Mr Red
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 05:35 AM

Dicho & Ebbie
My Concise OED doesn't list heteronym (hetero -two parts) but does list Homonym and suggests it is the generic for Homophone and Homograph (homo - of one type). Crazy Eddie ain't crazy. English dictionaries.
What does it say in Webster's?
PEDANTS UNITE - you have nothing to loose but your face!!! *****BG*****


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: vindelis
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 05:58 AM

QUE? R wee bak tu EEnglish az shee iz spk?

Duz thaat meen thaat oi kan wroit az oi speek in sayftee, withoiut gettin haammered boiy teecherz thaat dun unnerztaand wot oii be zaayin?


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 09:50 AM

O boy wot fun! The Heteronym Home Page. Lotz uf eenfo!*bg*


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Bill D
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 12:23 PM

wel, I wuz impresed wif that page, but now all my spel chekers are confuzd.

It's interesting....the internet may well become the salvation of coherent spelling policy, since search engines and spell checkers are gradually enforcing a standard, even for those who have difficulties 'memorizing' words.

Now, if we can just get some sort of agreement between UK English and American English about the use of 's' and 'z' and whether or not to stick extra 'u's in words like 'colo(u)r'.

Me?..I'm for compact words, but since I can't touch-type, I am pejudiced.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 12:47 PM

My definition of heteronym (previous posting) is from the OED, the complete edition of a few years back (I wish I could afford a new one). Heteronym is defined in the Merriam Webster Collegiate as "one of two or more homographs (as in a bass voice and bass, a fish) that differ in pronounciation and meaning." Mr. Red, the Merriam Webster Collegiate (there are poor imitations also labeled Webster) is the best dictionary for North Americans. If you are in the "mother country" the OED concise is still the best. Both are abridgements and leave out much including the history of the words, but they are portable and affordable. The OED is on line, but the subscription cost is prohibitive except for businesses. Canadians have a problem, since their usage is a mixture of OED and Webster usages plus Franglais. So-called Canadian edition dictionaries are p--- poor.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 01:08 PM

The Merriam Webster Collegiate is also online and it is where I obtained all of the definitions which I posted.

Thanks,

kat


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: ponytrax
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 01:30 PM

Don't forget dialectic variations. What I'd like to hear is someone from deepest Yorkshire, or farthest Scotland, trying to have a conversation with someone from rural Alabama. They'd probably have to communicate via written English.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 01:54 PM

KatL, somehow I passed over your post without seeing it. I have bookmarked the heteronym site for later reading.I found Webster's Collegiate with CD-ROM in a used bookstore, so it is linked to my computer but rarely used. The dictionary it came in is beside my monitor. The book is the one I find the quickest. I have to cross the room to get to the OED volumes so they are used mostly for word history. I have several Merriam Websters- the older ones have many of the commoner Scots and North England words which have been dropped to make room for the Newspeak and words necessitated by technology. Changes in pronounciation and meanings can also be traced. A few used bookstores have older ones, but most dealers toss them in the garbage- ask a dealer you know to save them for you.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 02:36 PM

Heteronym list is nice but limited. It mentions drawer but leaves out drawers, as in drop your.... What do you call a word that changes to the opposite meaning through time? Nice is one. It originally meant wanton, derived from Latin for ignorant. Now it means several entirely different things- well-executed, fastidious, well-fitted, particular, agreeable or pleasant, etc., as well as the original meaning in backwoods England. There is a word to really confuse the poor emigrant.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 03:07 PM

Haha, how nice of you, Dicho.**BG** Really, I love words and find it all so very interesting. Thanks so much. I do have one huge older Random House, I think it is from the 60's, which I use for a lot of reference.

I also have a 4 volume set which was my grandfather's. It is packed away right now, but it was published in the latter part of the 1800's. The print is so much bigger and easier to read; there just aren't that many words to a page and lots of illustrations. My mom and dad's two volume set was my favourite book when growing up.

Have you read The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester? This link takes one to an excerpt. PeterT had recommended it and I found it one of the most fascinating books I've ever read.

Thanks,

kat


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Charley Noble
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 07:52 PM

If I remember this correctly, there are also fasinating similar sounding words from different languages which mean different things, providing a wealth of cross-cultural jokes; in Amharic "bug" means "lamb" and simlarly "lamb" means "beef"; lots of fun when ordering your dinner. I'm not sure what similar sounding words in different languages which have different meanings is called, but I'm sure someone knows.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Bill D
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 08:10 PM

In case you haven't seen it, Michael Quinion's World Wide Words is about as interesting a language site as I know.. (he has a mailing list, and I get a short, interesting segment every day or two.)

be careful, it's addictive!


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Bill D
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 08:28 PM

and if you are finished there..*grin*...here is another!

http://www.bestclips.com/newsletter-7.html

and from a site on Puns come this:

Homophonic: use of like sounds but with different spellings and meanings. Also referred to as polyptoton. Examples of homophones from A to Z:

ad ... add nap ... knap buy ... by oar ... or caries ... carrys primer ... primmer damn ... dam queue ... cue eerie ... Erie rain ... rein ... reign for ... four scent ... sent gait ... gate taro ... tarot hear ... hear urn ... earn idle ... idol vain ... vane jeans ... genes waive ... wave knot ... not xero ... zero ledger ... leger yore ... your main ... mane ... Maine zounds ... sounds


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Bill D
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 08:35 PM

not enough, you say!?..well, then, I shall deluge you!

Beware!


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 09:10 PM

No, no, Bill D! *maniacal laughing* Oh, no, I'll be lost forever! *BG* I already had to unsubscribe from Quinion's email stuff! Oh, jeez, another bookmark!

Thanks...a lot!

kat


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: GUEST,random
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 10:14 PM

"it is a poor mind who can only think of one way to spell a word" i think andrew jackson said that. well, atleast some famous american guy said it.

Personlally, as someone who suposively speaks english- i think its a great thing that i'm a native speaker b/c as it is, i think its a very hrommible language and if i had to learn it as a second language i'd be just a wee bit unhappy. (thats litodes- poetic understatement. and actually, it can be beautiful sometimes. but its all the other times wich have me annoyed. :)

"phosion" is "fish"- see the "ph" like in photo, "o" like in women, and 'sion' like in all of htose french words.

I always liked: one mouse, two mice, three mece (pronounced w/ the first syllable "me" and the "ce" like the "ce" in "ice")

and what about words that don't have plurals? like deer or sheep. and some military history buffs use 'cannon' as the plural and signular of 'cannon'

ponytrax here's a true story (assumiing i can remember it all.)- My maternal grandmother grew up her whole life in the same town in New england and consequently has a very thick new england acent. She cameto visit me and my folks when we lived in the american northwest- the other side of the continient. My grandma talks to someone- i think at the ticket desk- and the airport worker turns to my mother and says," ma'am can you please translate, i don't understand her." at which point my mild and meek and shy gramma pounds her fist on the counter and yells "i am an american! i speak english!"


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Aug 01 - 11:40 PM

The example "on the fritz" on the site mentioned by BillD is pertinent to postings in the thread Angelina Baker also going on now. What does cotton-eyed (as in Cotton-eyed Joe)mean and where does it come from? In the song, Joe is a devil with women so it is unlikely that he has some condition such as cateracts. A variation on the song applies the name and the song to a mean horse. Does the horse roll its eyes showing the white and is application of the name to a man a later version? No one seems to know. No, we don't need a name for words we can't explain.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Ringer
Date: 13 Aug 01 - 04:41 AM

On the "homograph" theme, is there a term describing, eg cleave which can mean both itself & its opposite (cleave together = join; cleave a log = split)? I think probably not, for I vaguely remember that there's only one other such word, but for the life of me I can't remember what it is.

Wonderful thread, kat.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Wolfgang
Date: 13 Aug 01 - 08:20 AM

Beifahrer zum Fahrer: Warum hast Du eben den Fussgaenger umgefahren?
Fahrer: Du hast doch gesagt, ich soll ihn umfahren.
Beifahrer: Idiot. Ich hab gesagt, Du sollst ihn umfahrren.

For those few who don't read German, the verb 'umfahren' means 'to run over' (a pedestrian, e.g.) or 'to drive around' depending on position of stress. A source of confusion, especially in moments of stress.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Wolfgang
Date: 13 Aug 01 - 08:24 AM

'Umfahren' is the correct spelling for both meanings. Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: pavane
Date: 13 Aug 01 - 08:51 AM

Crazy Eddie - I remember reading the article you quoted - about changing the spelling of English. It was written many years before we joined the EC! Can't remember who wrote it though.

Here is another old one:
Time flies like an arrow
Fruit flies like a banana


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: GUEST,jaze
Date: 13 Aug 01 - 09:31 AM

Tony Randall once did a thing on the Tonight Show where he said that GHOTI spells fish. GH(f)as in enough,O(i)as in women,TI(sh)as in nation. We could start a whole new language.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: katlaughing
Date: 13 Aug 01 - 10:58 AM

Speaking of new languages, there are people all over who cal themselves Conlangers, Constructed Language Makers. There was a fascinating interview with some of them on NPR last wekend. To listen, just click this and scroll down the page to Constructed Language Makers NPR interview.

For more fun, check out these websites, including free software to help you design your own model language. BTW, they call them "model" languages in the sense that we have "model" airplanes.

Thanks, BE. Wolfgang, interesting to note that happens in German, too. Thanks for the examples!

Free Software to write your own language

Model Languages - An Intro

Scale Model Languages

The Tongues of Tolkein's Arda

Model Language links

And, to go along wiht your new language, check out P.C.Wrede's World Builder.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 13 Aug 01 - 11:07 AM

My Greek friends point out theirs is a phonetic language so I should speak it better then they do English (alas, I don't!).BUT stress is more important so yeros with the stress on the first syllable is "old" or "old man" while yeros with the stress on the second is "strong", or "strong man". In my case one is accurate, the other is bragging!
RtS (the man who ordered doll with lemon instead of goat with lemon!)


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: pavane
Date: 13 Aug 01 - 11:07 AM

I have heard that GHOTI dates back to one literary gent called G B Shaw! Of course, these anecdotes are often wrongly attributed.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: pavane
Date: 13 Aug 01 - 11:10 AM

I wonder, could we find the right parameters to put into one of these programs and come up with Proto-Indo-European? <G>


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Bill D
Date: 13 Aug 01 - 01:31 PM

LOLOL....we need to AGREE on some new language and all the 'clique' members start posting in it...tell 'guests' and trolls they have to join to get the code! *giggle*..maybe Wolfgang can guide the dysfunctional elite thru Folksprach

sorry, I'm feeling silly this afternoon...


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Kim C
Date: 13 Aug 01 - 05:11 PM

Then there's people trying to learn English as a second language here where I live, where accents and dialect often are NOTHING like texbook English. I think Jeff Foxworthy talks about it:

Jeat yet?

Naw, yawnto?

What I'd like to know is, why do the French delight so in accusing Americans of polluting their language with our infernal English, when England is just across the channel and we are halfway around the world?

English uses a lot of French words too, and I haven't heard anyone complain of that.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: RangerSteve
Date: 13 Aug 01 - 11:09 PM

Jeanie - you're right, I've heard those kind of remarks way too many times. Incidentally, Yogi would be declared a nuisance bear in NJ and by law, must be removed to a more rural area, then shot if he persists in his usual actions.

KimC - I'm complaining. If we have to have French words, they should be spelled the way they're pronounced, or pronounced the way they're spelled.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Kim C
Date: 14 Aug 01 - 10:51 AM

How about cafay olay? ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: GUEST,Steve
Date: 14 Aug 01 - 11:27 AM

You can always find the mot juste in English!

Talking of G B Shaw, he wanted to reform English spelling. (And some of those -ough endings are down to Caxton's printers making the pages look prettier!) GBS would have introduced more letters but reduced the length of many words by using s phonetic system. For example, the Greek phi would replace ph, theta would replace th. (Although there are already two letters used in Icelandic for 'th' in 'path and 'th' in 'the'.)

Steve


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: jeffp
Date: 14 Aug 01 - 11:33 AM

English used to have a letter for the th sound - the thorn, which looked very similar to a "y". That's why we have all the "Ye Olde ...." stuff around in the "historic" areas.

jeffp


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: CRANKY YANKEE
Date: 14 Aug 01 - 02:27 PM

Dear Kat. I know a lot of Italian business people who's base is in Bologna. They say that English is very easy to learn because of the lack of gender.
There are a lot of Italian words, spelled the same, but with different meaning. Also Japanese. For instance, in Japanese EMPI can mean elbow or swallow (the bird) Kamikaze means Divine Wind or Paper Head.

As for "English Muffin", they call them "Crumpets" in England


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Arnie
Date: 14 Aug 01 - 04:07 PM

Did you know that in Turkish, the word 'don' can mean either a frost or a pair of knickers! I suppose you could accuse someone of being frigid without realising it!However, unlike English, Turkish is totally phonetic - but it's still an absolute sod to learn !


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: SharonA
Date: 14 Aug 01 - 07:28 PM

Remember the "I Love Lucy" episode where Ricky (the Cuban) tries to read a story (in English) to his young son? A superb example of the confusion in English spelling vs. pronunciation.

Here's my favorite homonym tongue-twister: I never felt a felt hat that felt like that felt hat felt.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Shields Folk
Date: 14 Aug 01 - 07:51 PM

Dichio, if Rough is prononced as it is because of its German origin and not regional English why is tough, clough and waugh ( not the poncy way it is pronounced in the south as in Auberon Waugh, or those Australian cricketeters)prononced as it is. What about a cleugh in Northumbrian Geography.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Aug 01 - 11:09 PM

Tough- OE toh (as in toe). In turn from OHG. Don't ask for logic. If I tried to justify the changes that occurred in the long history of these words, I would deserve to be dropped head first into the steepest cleugh around. (clewch- from 1375). Just how were words pronounced in the past? No one knows. All sorts of shifts took place. Waugh gets me too- I think I got corrected every time I said it- we has Waugh in Mod. Lit. The OED says waugh = woe is attributed to N. American Indians, but also says woe is common to Indo-Europeans. I think someone editing OED had bats in the belfry. Looking up woe I accidentally saw wlonk heading a page (= proud). Now there is a word to work into everyday conversation!


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Ringer
Date: 09 Sep 01 - 01:50 PM

Found it! (or, to be strictly accurate, my wife found it).

Hints on pronunciation for foreigners

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, laugh and through.
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word,
That looks like beard and sounds like bird,
And dead: it's said like bed, not bead.
For goodness' sake don't call it 'deed'!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).

A moth is not a moth in mother
Nor both in bother, broth in brother,
And here is not a match for there
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear.
Just look them up -- and goose and choose,
And cork and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart.
Come, come: I've hardly made a start!

A dreadful language? Man alive,
I'd mastered it when I was five.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: ard mhacha
Date: 09 Sep 01 - 03:35 PM

My US cousin making fun of my Armagh accent when I asked her to say, Merry Mary married Hairy Harry. Try it stateside, sounds like me saying her hair, the words sound the same. Slan Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: bernil
Date: 09 Sep 01 - 05:36 PM

This thread was really good for me, as I'm a Swedish woman trying to learn english! Now I see that I don't have to feel so very ashamed when I find it difficult and make mistakes. But I'm afraid I don't think my own language is so much better. When I've discussed Swedish words and spelling with friends from other countries, I've felt ashamed...


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: marymarymary
Date: 09 Sep 01 - 05:51 PM

Bald Eagle: raze/raise?

As in "This weekend, we raised the barn" or "This weekend, we razed the barn"?


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: katlaughing
Date: 09 Sep 01 - 06:04 PM

Bald Eagle, thanks for the poem! That's great!

maryx's3 - another good example!

bermil, your English seems very good to me. I use a translation program, so cannot claim to know Swedish, but would like to say:

Välkommen till Mudcat!

Vänlig önskningen,

kat


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Willa
Date: 09 Sep 01 - 06:40 PM

Fiolar; Pope pronounced worse; I heard it as 'Oklahoma' pronounced success
Pavane; I believe you are right about Shaw using Ghoti as an example. He did leave a large sum of money in trust for anyone who could devise a better English alphabet; we have only 26 letters , but 43 sounds. The money has not been claimed yet.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Sep 01 - 08:04 PM

It is difficult for one to eliminate one's memory of the rules of pronunciation in one's own language when one is speaking English (sentence illustrative of one problem) . Our Canadian prime minister is French, so the local newspaper (very anti the minister's party) always mimics his mispronunciation in cartoons and editorials. That becomes dat (the h in th is silent in French), these is dese and father becomes fodder. I had a boss from Colombia who, after university in the U. S. A. and 20 years employment with a major company, always started words like special with the syllable es- (special is especial in Spanish). I had a Mexican roommate in college who couldn't pronounce bottle (or was he just cagy when it was his turn to buy?). But I also note how quickly a foreigner picks up enough to get by, and sometimes a lot more than someone born here but poorly educated.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: AliUK
Date: 09 Sep 01 - 09:44 PM

oooo....this thread is fun I teach EFL and this page is now on my tracer. I'm just gonna let youse guys do the work for me. Funny how all these words give my students problems ( portuguese is their mother tongue). And they never believe me when I tell them that I never had to study english grammar at school. "But teacher,"they say "How did you learn your language?". English is the most flexible language in the world and also, it's speakers have a tendency to get to the point, whereas latin speakers tend to talk around it. That's why our language seems to be less rich than theirs, that is until I start to teach them poetry!


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Sep 01 - 11:53 PM

As an old timer, I think I would be short-changed in a modern English class where I didn't have to diagram sentences and be drilled on the parts of speech. Is that why they no longer call the first few grades "grammar school"? Without knowing the subjunctive in English, e. g., how could you learn rapidly the required scientific German necessary to take an advanced science degree? Not knowing grammar leads to frustration and wasted time for any one pursuing advanced education.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Ringer
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 05:26 AM

Oh, I agree, Dicho. In fact, I couldn't agree more. The foreign youngsters we have through our household (usually European) can't believe that grammar is not taught in our schools. But seeing the efforts of recent graduates we employ trying to write reports, I can.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: bernil
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 08:58 AM

Thanks kat for your welcome in Swedish! The first line was OK, but the next one... no... but I think I know what you tried to say!

I may be quite good at english as long as I don't have to write very difficult things and if I can do it in (?) my own pace (?), that is slowly... and of course I look up words. I've tried to learn more about prepositions (which I have problems with) this summer and that was not easy! You use different prepositions in a sentence depending on very small differences... For example: A boat or train arrives at a small town but the boat arives in England or a bigger town. So, I have to count the people living there before I know which preposition to use?? But the book was a bit old so perhaps it has changed... And I think we have such stupid things in Swedish too!

Berit


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: bernil
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 09:10 AM

Another book I read this summer was about common mistakes a Swede makes when he tries to speak English and after reading it I thought I would never dare speak/write English anymore! A lot of words that are very alike (?) in Swedish and English mean very different things. That can be dangerous! Or – which has to be better - funny! ;-) I understand now that you must laugh a lot at Swedes!

/Berit


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Ringer
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 09:17 AM

You're doing very well so far, Berit. In my experience, all Scandinavians speak English far better than many native speakers. I echo kat's welcome. The difference between the train arriving at a little town but in London (eg) had never occurred to me before. But I can see you are right - that bit of your book is not yet obsolete!


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 09:45 AM

Hello folks,
thanks for the contributions enriching my collection of linguistic fun. But now in earnest:
English is a very easy language to learn,because it changed to an almost synthetc language, i.e. it lost a lot of morphology and the parts of speech are rigidly defined through their position in the sentence.
It has no gender; every verb has only 4 forms (learn, learns, learning, learned) or 5 ones with the irregular verbs (see, sees, seeing, saw, seen), but the number of irregular words is very small compared to German. Here you could say: The irregular is the rule.
There are different levels of speech as in every language; in English they are easy to discern by the use of four letter words or polysyllables.
In the barracks you could hear: "Who is this f**ing guy who can't handle his rifle?"; more politely you could say: "Would you be so kind, please, to introduce me to this cohabitating gentleman who seems to have difficulties in the employment of his rifle?"
If you think the orthography difficult, look at German - it is pretty awful. Don't expect logic in languages, it is all development (and history, especially your orthography).
Be glad to have such an easy language; it can't be so bad - even Shakespeare liked it so much that he decided to use it for his plays.

Wilfried


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: GUEST,Tracey Dragonsfriend
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 10:50 AM

How about this one : Multi-national personnel at North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters near Paris found English to be an easy language... until they tried to pronounce it. To help them discard an array of different accents, the verses below were devised. After trying them, a Frenchman said he'd prefer six months at hard labor to reading six lines aloud. Try them yourself…


ENGLISH IS TOUGH STUFF
======================
Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.

Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.

Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation -- think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough --
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!
-- Author Unknown


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Arnie
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 11:32 AM

Well done Tracey D - there's no answer to that!! It's such an interesting thread however that no doubt it will continue for a while yet...


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: GUEST,Tracey Dragonsfriend
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 02:22 PM

I just wish I'd written it! Seriously, thogh - it is VERY difficult to say aloud...


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 03:01 PM

Bernil- Arrive at London airport but arrive in London? Rent a car and arrive at Badger's Drift but stay in Badgers Drift? One arrives at but lives in is the general rule, but- one arrives in England, yes? In indicates inside, enclosed, within. If you think about this, you can see why the distinction is made, but we are entering the realm of custom which may overturn rule. Amusing, eh?


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: katlaughing
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 04:44 PM

Brill, Tracey. I have copied it to a PART TWO as this one is getting so long.

Thanks!

kat


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: O'Trasno
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 04:47 PM

And i wonder why you get in a car,but get on a bus...?


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: bernil
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 05:00 PM

Dicho, I don't know if amusing is the right word... ;-) and that was just one example... (in or at)

My slow writing may be quite OK but... when I try to read "ENGLISH IS TOUGH STUFF" loud I understand that talking English would be too adventurous!!! Fortunately I don't have to do it very often!

Another thing is that you have so many words for one Swedish word. It's difficult to find the right word as we can't understand the shades of meaning (?).ut English is a rich language!

Berit


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 05:56 PM

A dealer in pre-owned books was tossing out textbooks and other material that wouldn't sell. I picked up two useful handbooks: "Hodges' Harbrace College Handbook" (120 pp. grammar section) and Prentice-Hall "Handbook for Writers." These two are readable. The definition of IN that I gave from Webster's (previous posting) began to nag at me. In, inside, enclosed, within are listed like synonyms but they are not. One may say that he is in pain, but not within, etc. pain unless he is engaging in literary embellishment. O'Trasno, sorry, but you used general, colloquial English, not preferred English. You get into a car or bus; not in a car or on a bus. In North America, it makes no nevermind, but it is a class identifier in England (among hundreds of others), even though one has perfected one's accent. (I hate this use of one, but when I started to read this thread, I was reminded of a hated teacher who insisted that using "you" was a sign of linguistic sloppiness and I deserved to end up on street corners selling apples). Up? Now there is another one...


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: Willa
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 06:14 PM

Bernil; i believe the Inuit have fifty different words for snow - now that's complicated!


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: O'Trasno
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 06:30 PM

Thanks Dicho,I stand humbly corrected on that one...but it brings us to another interesting question:does this "class identifier" quality in english exist in other languages? I've been living in Galicia for the last couple of years but as yet i haven't come across examples either in spanish or galego(the local language) And another question...should we all take a collective cyberleap to part 2 of this thread?


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Subject: RE: BS: Reasons why English is so hard to learn
From: AliUK
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 08:03 PM

bernil: words that are similar looking in two or more languages are called "false cognates". I have a big problem with them both my students and I as there are a few in portuguese that look and sound similar to english words but have completely different meanings. It's not only swedes that have problems with prepositions. You though have a good grasp of the language, well done ( darn why do I feel like a teacher?)


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