1. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    The English Language Thread

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Cacian, Nov 15, 2011.

    here you can post all your questions with regards to why a word is written or spelt in anyway.
    all your EVER WONDERED WHY...questions here.

    mine is

    ever wondered why we have to add an S to He and SHE after a verb?

    I speak
    he speaks
    she speaks
    they speak

    obviously we cannot IT SPEAKS for logic reason.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    actually, we can, if referring to something non-human... it's done often in re animals or aliens! ;)

    i gave up wondering about the vagaries of english when i started studying french and italian and spanish, since it was clear to me by then that english is the most inconsistent and confused/confusing language in the world...
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Most languages have some kind of verb conjugation within the same tense, so it's not something that's unique to English.

    There's a language called Esperanto that only requires conjugating verbs when switching to a different tense (i.e. present vs. past), but it otherwise requires no verb conjugation within the same tense. I think Chinese does something similar to this as well.
     
  4. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I am sure it still can't..we never them hear utter words as such.:p
     
  5. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I do not get esperanto at all.
    sounds like waiting for godot.. one could only hope...it nover took off or arrived anywhere;)
     
  6. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    It's the way it is. Actually, adding the 's' at the end of some verbs when switching from 1st or 2nd to 3rd person... it's not really THAT crazy. A lot of different languages change the form of the verb when you switch the pronoun.

    I think the craziest English language thing is pluralizing things. I think when I was learning spanish there were like 3-4 rules for pluralization and they made sense and were easy to figure out. But in English you have pluralization rules for specific words that are inconsistent with words of the same form. IE Goose -> Geese but the plural of Moose isn't Meese. And Ox -> Oxen but with Box, the plural isn't Boxen. If you are into stand comedy I remember Brian Regan has a hilarious bit involving the crazy rules of the English language.
     
  7. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    Here's the bit actually, wikipedia doesn't do it justice obviously because he uses a dumb kid voice throughout most of the bit.

    I rembember my teacher asks me,
    "Brian, what's the i before e rule?"
    "I before e... ALWAYS."
    "What are you, an idiot, Brian?"
    "Apparently."
    "I before e except after c and when sounding like a as in neighbor and weigh, and on weekends and holidays and all throughout May, and you'll always be wrong no matter what you say!"
    "That's a hard rule. That's a— that's a rough rule."
    Plurals were hard, too.
    “Brian, how do you make a word a plural?”
    “You put a ‘s’…put a ‘s’ at the end of it.”
    “When?”
    (sigh) “On weekends and holidays!!!”
    “No, Brian. Let me show you.” So she asked this kid who knew everything,Irwin. “Irwin, what’s the plural for ox?”
    “Oxen. The farmer used his oxen.”
    “Brian?”
    (chuckling) “What?”
    “Brian, what’s the plural for box?”
    “Boxen. I bought 2 boxen of doughnuts.”
    "No, Brian, no. Let's try another one. Irwin, what's the plural for goose?"
    "Geese. I saw a flock... of geese."
    "Brian!"
    (Chuckling) "Wha-at?"
    "Brian, what's the plural for moose?"
    "MOOSEN!! I saw a flock of moosen! There were many of 'em. Many much moosen. Out in the woods—in the woodes—in the woodsen. The meese want the food. The food is to eatenesen. The meese want the food in the woodyesen! In the, food in the woodenesen!"
    "Brian! Brian. You're an imbecile."
     
  8. leafmould
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    leafmould Senior Member

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    "i" before "e" except before "c" and in "weird".

    Re the third person singular of "speak"....

    "His donation was very generous. It speaks volumes.............."

    I don't like this way of writing, but I've heard/read it many times.

    Is it "correct"?

    Yes, if you like.

    No, if you don't.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    of course we can say it or write it, as there's no law against doing so... and it's perfectly correct to do so, since there are different kinds of 'speech'... human speech is certainly not the only kind... porpoises and whales 'speak' to each other, as do many other species... plus, many dolls and robots can 'speak' [with human speech], as well...

    thus, 'it speaks' can be and is used quite often... and used properly...
     
  10. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    It's 'i' before 'e', except AFTER 'c'. For example... "receive" and "receipt"; "believe" and "friend" for examples with no c. But it turns out there are enough common exceptions that if you just go by the rule, you are probably going to be screwed over by it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_before_E_except_after_C
     
  11. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's correct; Esperanto verbs are the same for each person. (Jes, mi parolas Esperanton.)
    Chinese takes it even further. Chinese verbs don't change with tense or aspect either. (对,我说汉语).
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the entire old-timey saying is: "'i' before 'e' except after 'c' or when sounded like 'a' as in 'neighbor' and 'weigh'"
     
  13. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Even swedish is constructed that way, lucky us :D
    cacian: if you think english is complicated, have a look at italian grammar! (or any other latin language) it'll put things in perspective! :D
     
  14. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you think Latinate languages are complicated, look at any Slavic language; it'll put things in perspective. :)
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the latinate languages [italian, spanish, french] are actually the easiest to learn... though their silly sexing of nouns does complicate matters somewhat! :p
     
  16. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    That probably depends on the individual. I found German much easier than French.
     
  17. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    the question is why would I want to use esperanto when I have already my own language?
    unless someone is suggesting we unable to find another way to communicate with each other?
    English we have already established is international so why don't use it as THE main language to communicate rather then go and learn half witted half jerked esperatonto that actually means nothing at all.
    esparanto has no syntax as such and comes across as simple and what'smore it has nothing in depth for writing or poetry.
     
  18. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The idea is that it's culturally neutral, whereas in many parts of the world English is seen as a cultural imposition.
    Because that is very politically loaded, and a position that is offensive to much of the non-English-speaking world.
    I don't know what you mean by it having no syntax -- it couldn't function as a language without a syntax. And there's a rich repertoire of Esperanto poetry. One of the candidates for British poet laureate after the death of Ted Hughes was a poet who wrote exclusively in Esperanto.
     
  19. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    :D :D Well for me who grew up with the simplest language of them all (swedish) italian was a challenge with all the different forms within each tense. I can't say I struggled with it, but I know people who do. nice that there are always stuff that can put things in perspective :p actually I wouldn't dare going into slavic languages, brr...
     
  20. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I spent part of my childhood in Montreal, and so learned a little French. I thought it was crazy to give genders to all the nouns. Everything had to be either masculine or feminine.

    Then I took German in high school. There were THREE genders! WTF? Masculine, feminine, and neuter. Why have more genders than there actually are? I thought they were just trying to play with our young, impressionable brains.
     
  21. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    If conjugations scare you, Russian has declensions! There are six cases--every noun and adjective has a different form depending on the function it has in the sentence. And of course it has conjugations and three genders too :)
     
  22. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I thought Swedish was tonal?
     
  23. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    the PLURAL in English is sometimes vague because on one hand we place the S for HE and SHe in the present tense then we also use it to indicate the plural but then we also add to a word that means a group of things like
    VEGETABLE why add S when it means either a potato a carrot or a leak. VEGETABLE indicate two or more of the words I have listed so why use an S to something that is alreaduy a group of thing
    I could do the same with MUSIC and add an S to indicte different type of music but it does not have a plural.
    the same with FISH it does not have FISHES.
    it seems almost random.
    what is the role of S one might ask then?
     
  24. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    But only one of either. You could say the same of "car". It can mean Ford or Chevrolet, but you still need an 's' if you have more than one.
    Yes it does -- "Musics" (as in "The musics of the native peoples...") is a plural.
     
  25. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    @digitig
    a car is refererd to by a proper a CHEVROLET a FORD ..they are not just noun.
    the same with a person then people. I know in French it personne then personnes they add an S but PEOPLE means more then one.
    so I would equate VEGETABLE in the same idea as PEOPLE only the first word takes an S. so there is a contradiction or an ''anomaly'' there.
    another question is

    the expression
    dressed up to the nines?
    does this means the same as
    ''dressed up to kill''?

    notice how again there is an S to nine.
     

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