Problems with the English Language

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Ivo

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I've just had a message in relation to problems with the English language (hence the title), and it has gotten me thinking.

The word "take" for example is often used in English in a way that doesn't fit other languages. For example, in English we say "take a picture", whereas in other languages they say "make a picture". Another common one is the use of "be" (etc) in relation to feelings; we would say "I am cold" to mean "I feel cold".

What other examples are there? In theory English should be really easy to learn for a non-native speaker, due to its simple structure and general lack of genders, but things like this (and other problems such as nonstandard pronunciations, as evidenced in this thread, and irregular verbs) prove otherwise...
 
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deltic1989

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One example that leaps to mind is that in English we say that we fly on an Aeroplane. Where as in German the phrase is "Ich bin mit dem Flugzeug Geflogen" , Literally translated as "I flew with the aeroplane".
That my not be exactly what you are looking for but i agree that English would appear to be easy to learn for a non-native speaker, and indeed it is taught as a second language in schools all over the world, although in schools outside of Europe the American version of English is more common.
 

Giugiaro

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About the "take a photo" expression, in Portuguese we also say "tirar a foto", literally meaning "remove a photo" or "take a photo". "Fazer a foto" sounds horrible...

With "I am cold", we say "Estou com frio", which means "I am with cold", which sounds even more stupid in English, but makes perfect sense in Portuguese.

Also, don't even mention the verbs in English! The Portuguese verb table is the most complex of the Latin languages. An there's in total 192 irregular verbs to conjugate in 14 different tenses! And fortunately we don't learn to conjugate all of them on school, but at least the most important: ser (to be), dar (to give), fazer (to do), estar (to be [stay]), dizer (to say), caber (to fit), haver (to have), crer (to belive), ouvir (to hear),... ... ...
 

Ivo

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Ivo, the use of those last three words are most unlike your normally precise use of English, especially considering the wording used in the first part of your sentence.

I'm going to pretend that the "-ten" isn't there :p

I won't edit it though.

Also, don't even mention the verbs in English! The Portuguese verb table is the most complex of the Latin languages. An there's in total 192 irregular verbs to conjugate in 14 different tenses! And fortunately we don't learn to conjugate all of them on school, but at least the most important: ser (to be), dar (to give), fazer (to do), estar (to be [stay]), dizer (to say), caber (to fit), haver (to have), crer (to belive), ouvir (to hear),... ... ...

Fortunately English verbs tend to be a problem only in the perfect tense. There are so many irregular verb forms in the past tense that even native speakers sometimes have problems, especially at a younger age when terms such as "catched" and "goed" are commonplace; indeed, the latter is probably the most obvious case because there is no similarity between "go" and "went" at all (apart from them having only one syllable). The numerous instances of such terms aside however, verbs aren't too much of an issue; of course, as a general rule of thumb there are only two different "endings" to any given verb in the present tense (and then one of the two is usually only an additional "s" at the end), and there is nothing to fear in the future tense at all, given the use of "to be going to" and (more commonly) "will".

Still a nuisance though.

Plurals are another issue; some are influenced by external factors, with oxen (whose plural is distinctly German) being an obvious case.
 
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Xenophon PCDGS

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I had always assumed that both the Portuguese and the Spanish languages had developed from the Latin used by the military and administrators of the Roman empire. Both of these languages are Romance-base languages.

Much was done to differentiate between those two languages, by the differing language used during the settlement of new races in both areas after the fall of the Roman empire, where the existing Latin was gradually changed in conjunction with the newly introduced languages of the new settlers.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I'm going to pretend that the "-ten" isn't there :p

I won't edit it though.

Sorry about the arrival of a pedant at such a very early hour of the day, but your wording made me think of the sketch in a Morecambe and Wise show, in which Glenda Jackson was the guest.

Ernie Wise always playing the part of a great writer of dramatic works, as part of the running storyline and in this episode, Ernie Wise was supposed to have written a great literary work called "Cleopatra," in which Glenda Jackson was to play that dramatic part, in the dramatic representation of this story.

Who can ever forget the moment when she had to say the famous line....

"To have beauty, like what I have got"......:D
 

Giugiaro

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Yes, those cases were the most difficult ones to understand at the time, but nothing like some training and everything was fine. I remember the go, went, gone and memorize all the other irregulars. It was quite simple, since it's always a 1, 2, 3 rule.


To go is a PERFECT example!

The correspondent verb to "to go" in Portuguese is "ir", which works like this:

Present (Presente do Indicativo)

I go, You go, He/she/it goes, We go, You go, They go

Eu vou, Tu vais, Ele/Ela vai, Nós vamos, Vós ides, Eles/Elas vão

Just look at the 2nd plural person. Now that is a nuisance!


Now for the Past (Pretérito/Passado Perfeito do Indicativo)

I went, You went, He/she/it went, We went, You went, They went

Eu fui, Tu foste, Ele/Ela foi, Nós fomos, Vós fostes, Eles foram



Now a composed example.

"I'll be going to the shop."

"Eu vou indo para a loja." = "I go going to the shop."


_________________________________________________________


For what I've seen here, Portuguese is part of the Portuguese-Galician group, which differs from the Spanish-Castilian were Spanish is inserted. The two groups converge in West Iberian group of languages, and the last from the Ibero-Romance.

In a very fast explanation, Spanish/Castilian had influence from the Basque language until the kingdom of Castella merged with the kingdom of León. By that time, Old Galician was fast-spread to the south by the recently established kingdom of Portugal. Since then, the Old Galician evolved to the European Portuguese and Modern Galician in the region of Galiza, while Castilian was spread south in Spain and occupied the area were Leonese from the old kingdom of León was spoken. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Linguistic_map_Southwestern_Europe.gif
 

EM2

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I'd dread to be learning English, it seems to have very little logical about it. Just look at the -ough combination, as an example
Through, though, rough, cough, plough, borough are all pronounced differently
 

DaveNewcastle

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Plurals are another issue; some are influenced by external factors, with oxen (whose plural is distinctly German) being an obvious case.

I would think that the most puzzling aspect of English plurals is in their opposite application depending on part of speech. e.g. add an 's' suffix for plural nowns and omit it for singulars; add an 's' suffix for singular verbs and omit it for plurals. (They hit the nails. He hits the nail.)

Probably one of the most difficult areas to learn for a speaker of a language which uses a lot of different case endings is how to convert these to our prepositions and which preposition to use in each situation - deltic1989's aeroplane example touched on that.
 
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I've just had a message in relation to problems with the English language (hence the title), and it has gotten me thinking.

The word "take" for example is often used in English in a way that doesn't fit other languages. For example, in English we say "take a picture", whereas in other languages they say "make a picture". Another common one is the use of "be" (etc) in relation to feelings; we would say "I am cold" to mean "I feel cold".

What other examples are there? In theory English should be really easy to learn for a non-native speaker, due to its simple structure and general lack of genders, but things like this (and other problems such as nonstandard pronunciations, as evidenced in this thread, and irregular verbs) prove otherwise...

I am learning German, at the moment. I am being taught, by a native speaker. She found learning English very very hard. I have to say, German isn't easy, either; but that's beside the point.
 

WestCoast

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I'd dread to be learning English, it seems to have very little logical about it. Just look at the -ough combination, as an example
Through, though, rough, cough, plough, borough are all pronounced differently

I agree completely. I have dabbled at teaching spoken and written English informally and I'd say certain aspects (with good examples listed above) of English spelling can be a problem. This affects a learner's ability to read and pronounce words correctly. Being native English speakers, you might not notice issues which I have seen time and time again. The grapheme (i.e letters) to phoneme (i.e. sounds) correspondence is quite weak in English. The famous example used to illustrate this is a made-up word, ghoti, which could be pronounced as "fish". As the link says, this example was used to support a writer's argument that English spelling should be simplified and standardised wherever possible.

In Russian for example, the language is more phonetic and once you know the Cyrillic Alphabet, noting down words spoken from a tape is relatively straight forward, since a certain sound usually has a standard spelling. Of course Russian, like all languages, poses different challenges to learners.

I am learning German, at the moment. I am being taught, by a native speaker. She found learning English very very hard. I have to say, German isn't easy, either; but that's beside the point.

English is a West Germanic language along with German and Dutch, but personally I don't think they are easier to learn for English speakers. That's probably because, very simply put, modern English has Germanic roots with many Latinate imports.

For example; I must corresponds easily to ich muss in German or ik moet in Dutch, however you can't use the imperfect tense of that in English ("I musted") as is used in "ich musste" or "ik moest". You would probably say instead, "I had to", which corresponds to "J'ai dû" in French.
 
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newbie babs

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I work in an International College and when I ring streamline for authorisation, they drive me and the students crazy with asking for Maiden name, in china their mums have their family name, they don`t change it after marriage.
Perhaps we assume with out English language that's the way other countries say the same thing.
 

Crossover

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It is often said that English is actually one of the more difficult languages to learn.

Quite often, whilst going about daily life, I will see something and think how confusing it would be to someone trying to learn the language (i.e. the different pronunciations of the same letter combination, as mentioned before, as well as the same word that has totally different meanings but said the same and the same word, with different meanings and different pronunciations e.g. tear)

I work in an International College and when I ring streamline for authorisation,

If I may say, good luck dealing with them :lol:
 

Trog

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I think the thing about English is that the lack of rules makes it easy to speak badly, the right words in almost any order will usually get your meaning accross. So it is easy to get started, then you start to find out that no rules means that everything is an exception.


PS Do things like shuffling the order of the internal letters of words work as well in all langugues?
 

455driver

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The one that really winds me up is when people use "of" instead of "have", eg-

I could of been famous,
When they mean-
I could have been famous.
 

IanXC

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The one that really winds me up is when people use "of" instead of "have", eg-

I could of been famous,
When they mean-
I could have been famous.

That used to be my top annoyance, however "off of" has taken that mantle.
 

ChristopherJ

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Sorry for being OT but just seen this thread described on the main page and couldn't resist sharing it...



"Problems with the English..." : That's a whole new thread of its own. :lol: :lol: :lol:
 

Ivo

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Do things like shuffling the order of the internal letters of words work as well in all langugues?

In shuffling of all words as well do things like internal letters work the order of the languages?

Sorry for being OT but just seen this thread described on the main page and couldn't resist sharing it...

"Problems with the English..." : That's a whole new thread of its own. :lol: :lol: :lol:

So true :lol:
 
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I've just had a message in relation to problems with the English language (hence the title), and it has gotten me thinking.

The word "take" for example is often used in English in a way that doesn't fit other languages. For example, in English we say "take a picture", whereas in other languages they say "make a picture". Another common one is the use of "be" (etc) in relation to feelings; we would say "I am cold" to mean "I feel cold".

What other examples are there? In theory English should be really easy to learn for a non-native speaker, due to its simple structure and general lack of genders, but things like this (and other problems such as nonstandard pronunciations, as evidenced in this thread, and irregular verbs) prove otherwise...

English is a difficult language to learn for foreigners because of it's lack of grammar and total disregard for the real meaning of a word - which you've touched on. Here are some examples used in a railway sense.
"We are now approaching our final destination". There's only one destination, the destination is where the train is destined to go to.
"Thus is Green Park, exit here for..."
You cannot exit a train. You can alight from a train, you can make an exit from a train but you cannot exit a train.
"Mind the gap whilst alighting the train" Again, you can alight from a train but you cannot alight the train.
"Ensure that you have all your personal belongings...". If they're your belonging they're personal to you, why say personal belongings?
"This is your Conductor speaking" No it's not, you're not my Conducter, you're theConductor.
"This is your 10.22 service to....." No it's not, it's your 10.22 service to....".
"Your next station is..." why do Conductors want to give stations to me? It's the next station.
I could go on, but just accept that thanks to computers, text messaging, Americanisms and general malaise the English language, the most descriptive language in the world, the language of Keats and Shakespeare is being destroyed. Yer know wha' I'm saying innit.(sniff).
 

Eagle

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Gotten is American English. That's is what's wrong with the word.

That's completely false. It's dialectal in Britain too. For instance, it's standard in the Westcountry, where I'm from.

In fact, it doesn't take much reasoning to realize that "gotten" is the original form (think of "forgotten" and "begotten") and that substituting it with "got" has happened recently—since the 17th century, hence why Americans don't use it.

And if you need any more proof as to the integrity of the word consider the wildly divergent meanings of these two phrases:
"I've just got a book" (I possess only a book)
"I've just gotten a book" (I recently acquired a book)
 

LexyBoy

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the most descriptive language in the world, the language of Keats and Shakespeare is being destroyed. Yer know wha' I'm saying innit.(sniff).

Shakespeare? That vandal did more to destroy the English language than anyone, making up words and stealing from other languages willy-nilly!

English is unusual in that it has a relatively simple grammar - though what there is tends to be highly irregular - but a wide range of vocabulary roots, which means that it can be hard to see connexions between words. This is also what contributes to English being considered a very poetic language by many - there are often several words meaning roughly the same thing, one derived from Old English, one from French and one from Latin for example.

I've read about the theory that English developed as a creole following the Norman conquest; there are dramatic changes in vocabulary in Middle English compared to Old English along with the loss of many grammatical features found in OE and other North Germanic languages. I'm not a linguist though so can't say how seriously this theory is taken.
 
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The one that really winds me up is when people use "of" instead of "have", eg-

I could of been famous,
When they mean-
I could have been famous.

It's because they're spelling as they're speaking. I've noticed lately that people are writing as instead of has. Same thing.
 
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