English Is Not Normal

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Kriegsspiel
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English Is Not Normal

Post by Kriegsspiel » Sat Feb 08, 2020 2:51 pm

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. Speaking came long before writing, we speak much more, and all but a couple of hundred of the world’s thousands of languages are rarely or never written. Yet even in its spoken form, English is weird. It’s weird in ways that are easy to miss, especially since Anglophones in the United States and Britain are not exactly rabid to learn other languages. But our monolingual tendency leaves us like the proverbial fish not knowing that it is wet. Our language feels ‘normal’ only until you get a sense of what normal really is. [url=https://aeon.co/essays/why-is-english-s ... -languages]
COOL
When saying ‘eeny, meeny, miny, moe’, have you ever felt like you were kind of counting? Well, you are – in Celtic numbers, chewed up over time but recognisably descended from the ones rural Britishers used when counting animals and playing games. ‘Hickory, dickory, dock’ – what in the world do those words mean? Well, here’s a clue: hovera, dovera, dick were eight, nine and ten in that same Celtic counting list.
There are several thousand nearly complete viral genomes integrated into the human genome, most now inert or missing a crucial gene. These account for 1.3% of the entire genome. That may not sound like much, but 'proper' genes account for only 3%. If you think being descended from apes is bad for your self-esteem, then get used to the idea that you are also descended from viruses.
Ridley, Genome
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