is the second most frequently spoken language in the world
and has the largest vocabulary of any language. Half of all
business deals are conducted in English. Two thirds of all
scientific papers are written in English. Over 70% of all
mail is written and addressed in English. Most international
tourism and aviation is conducted in English.
it unfortunate that many people find English difficult to
To understand why this is so, it helps to look at its history.
The original inhabitants of Britain spoke a Celtic language
but over the centuries, Britain has been invaded many times.
Its conquerors always left some of their language behind them.
During the 5th Century A.D., the Angles, Saxons and Jutes
invaded and pushed the native Celtic speakers to the edges
of the island, in to Wales, Cornwall and Scotland. Cornish
died out in the 18th century but Welsh, Scottish and Irish
Gaelic are still spoken. Their Germanic language was called
Englisc from which we get English. Christian missionaries
introduced the Latin alphabet that we still use today, from
Southern Europe via Ireland.
1066 the Normans, from France, conquered Britain. French became
the language of the court and the aristocracy, and Latin the
language of the church and the law. This increased the English
vocabulary. Many words in English have a" French"
and a "Germanic" equivalent, e.g. stomach, belly.
The Germanic form of plurals (house, housen; shoe, shoen)
was eventually displaced by the French method of making plurals
by adding an "s" (houses; shoes). A few words have
retained their Germanic plurals: men, oxen, children.
IV, born in 1399, was the first king of England since the
Norman Conquest whose mother tongue was English. By the end
of this period, the dialect of London had become what we now
call Middle English, Chaucer's language. At this time spelling
varied throughout the country, depending on the local pronunciation,
so we can often tell where old documents were written by their
brought the printing press to England in 1476, books became
cheaper and started to be published in English, rather than
Latin. This brought standardization to English but although
the spelling and grammar of modern English became fixed around
the 16th Century and the first English dictionary was published
in 1604 the language has continued to change. Through contact
with many peoples from around the world, numerous words have
entered the language.
Industrial Revolution and the rise of the technological society
created a need for new words to describe things and ideas
that had not previously existed. Words like protein
and vaccine were often taken from Latin and Greek
roots. Then there was the British Empire. At its height, Britain
ruled one quarter of the earth's surface, and English adopted
many foreign words. Hindi, and the other languages of the
Indian subcontinent, provided many words, such as pundit,
shampoo, pyjamas, jodhpurs. Besides the vast contributions
of French and Latin and Greek, virtually every language on
Earth has contributed to the development of English, from
Finnish (sauna) and Japanese (tycoon).
contributions and additions have mixed to make a very rich
language soup, allowing us to express ourselves very well.
When you spell an English word it probably isn't English at
all, that's why it doesn't follow the rules. Very often, English
has accepted the new words with their original spellings,
but didn't adopt the original pronunciations, or pronunciations
were changed by common usage, but the original spellings were
never changed to match. We also know that English is pronounced
in many different ways. Even people from different parts of
Britain use different pronunciations, not to mention Americans,
South Africans, New Zealanders, Australians, etc. So how can
we really reach an agreement as to how things should be spelt
in the 21st century?
well say, "How can I figure out how to spell the words
in this crazy language?" We can invent mnemonics to help
us remember the correct spelling of many words. For example:
Hear contains the word "ear", "envelope"
helps us remember that "stationery" with an "e"
refers to office supplies, so "stationary" with
an "a" must refer to something that is not moving!
Then there's RAVEN _ Remember Affect Verb Effect Noun _ to
remember when to use "affect" vs "effect".
Sometimes using exaggerated pronunciation helps, such as exisTENCE
or depenDENT. Or you can write lists of definitions for words
that have the same sounds but are spelled differently, colonel
_ kernel, berry _ bury, seen _ scene. Then there are words
that contain letters that have nothing to do with the way
they are pronounced, but when you write the words, you MUST
include them, e.g. knife, plumber, iron, listen, castle. Most
spelling rules usually have lists of exceptions that must
for the ridiculous English spelling don't really matter because
English is what it is; it has been this way for a long time.
If you want to learn to speak and write it, you must learn
it as it is and not how it should be. Spelling rules in English
can be almost as much of a problem as spelling itself. So
you can remember the rules and learn the 'tricks'; but you
are left with this basic technique.
To help you work out when to use different verb forms or tenses,
it is useful to study texts, to recognise and highlight different
verb forms and then work out how and why they are used.
the article again:
Find these examples of the present perfect verb form
all refer to something thathas happened in the past andaffects
the way that things are now, the evidence is still with
ustoday, in the form of the Englishlanguage as we know
been invaded many times, over the centuries
retained their Germanic plurals
mixed to form a rich language soup
accepted the new words
been this way for a very long time
verb form is used with these expressions?
During the 5th century
In the 18th century
At this time
Around the 16th century
At the height of the British Empire
Of course it's the past simple, as they all refer to events
that are past and completed.
(R) thedailystar.net 2004