Nathanael Green's Blog

An advertising copywriter, novelist, and freelance writer's brain goo.

Posts Tagged ‘English language

See? English isn’t So Hard.

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A lot of people complain about how difficult the English language is.

Its spelling is crazy (see my earlier post on “ghoti” pronounced “fish”). English is full of contradictions with words like cleave being its own antonym–it means to cut off or sever, and also to cling or adhere.

We have a right to complain how hard our language is, don’t we? Well, considering some of the complexities in other languages, our complaints are like whining about too-tight  diamond rings and too-fat wallets.

Sure, English is a complicated language, but all languages are complicated. And this recent article in The Economist takes a look at some of the world’s most difficult languages and what makes them unique.

To be fair, I think the difficulty of any language is dictated by your own native tongue. So sure, Spanish is relatively easy for English speakers to pick up because of their similar histories and structure. But to a native speaker of Ainu, Spanish might seem just as mind-bogglingly unfamiliar as their language does to us.

And to an infant, English and the article’s most difficult language (I won’t spoil the surprise) are equally easy to acquire.

So whether it’s really the most difficult language or not is up for debate. But still, the article is well written and explores some fascinating aspects of different languages. One language discussed even causes a lump to form on each speaker’s larynx as they attempt to pronounce its sounds. Fun!

So definitely check out the article. And next time you complain about English – just remember that there’s no laryngeal disfigurement required.

Written by Nathanael Green

January 7, 2010 at 7:33 pm