What can strike panic in the hearts of millions of people all over the world? english
. While many native english
speakers are led to believe most Asiatic languages are a million times harder to learn, english
is in fact an enigma that has the potential to cripple the minds of foreign learners as well as some native speakers if they don't remember what they have learned all those years back in grammar school. This essay intends to touch upon some peculiarities of the english
language from the viewpoint of the American english
There are different types of englishenglish
is not fair. It is spoken differently all over the world. American english
differs from British english
which differs from Singlish, which differs from aussie english
, and so on. For example, when I flew to australia
a few years ago, I learned that "tea with cream" is called " white tea" to my aussie
counterparts. Also what I know as "french
fries" are called "chips" in both england
and in australia
. There is a site1 that attempts to compare the differences between British and American english
. I had no idea a "silencer" to a Brit is what I know as a "muffler". For some reason, I was imagining a gun silencer!
Singlish is a very unique creature. It is an amalgamation of english
, Malay, Tamil, and chinese
. Since it is made up of so many different languages, there are many words and expressions that may be lost to all other english
speakers. For example, the Singlish term "take"2 means "to eat" or "to have a meal" in all other english
Therefore, though you may know english
, but it doesn't remain the same across the globe and can confuse and cause many unintentional faux pas and embarrassments.
Homophones - words that sound alike, but aren't spelled alike
There are a ton of words in the english
language that aren't spelled the same, but sound alike. These words can be quite tricky especially when it comes to writing. For example, words like sail and sale, Isle and aisle, metal and medal sound alike, but their meanings are entirely different. Imagine being the U.S. Naval Academy and it's 1989. Students are graduating and they want their diploma
, however due to an error you "had to recall close to one thousand diploma
s reading "united states
Navel Academy"3. I'm sure those graduates did not appreciate their diploma
saying that they graduated from the U.S. Bellybutton Academy!
As you can see, these sound-alike words not only trip up foreign learners of english
, but also natives as well.
Homographs - similar spelling, different pronunciation
Another enigma of english
is that there are words that are spelled exactly the same, but pronounced differently. For instance, how would a foreign learner be able to understand the differences in the pronunciation of such words as wound and wound if they were left to fend for them self without prior experience? There is a list4 of some of these word chameleons that can either dazzle and delight or make one fear and loathe these words. A few of these include: 1) The bandage was wound around the wound. 2) The farm was used to produce produce 3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse. 4) He could lead if he would get the lead out. 5) I did not object to the object.
The next stumbling block of foreign learners of english
is silent letters. Words such as knight5 and muscle6 contain letters that aren't even pronounced. Some learners of english
question the need to write a letter that has no relevance to the pronunciation of a word5.
As you can see from the few examples given, english
is not a very "user-friendly" language if you do not know a thing or two about it. All english
es are not created equal and if you don't know your tear from your tear4 or which witch is witch, then you have the potential to embarrass yourself both verbally and in writing.
1"WORDS WITH DIFFERENT MEANINGS IN OTHER COUNTRIES.." Hints and Things. N.p., 2000-2012. Web. 19 Aug 2012. .
pete . "SINGLISH - A Language guide
for Foreigners." . N.p., 2008. Web. 19 Aug 2012. .
3Linfield, Jordan L., and Joseph Krevisky. Word Traps: A dictionary of the 5,000 most confusing sound-alike and look-alike words. 1st. New York
: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1993. 373. Print.
4Klimkiewicz , Tomasz . "On some peculiarities of the english
language.... ." . N.p., 2005. Web. 15 Aug 2012. .
5Furnitureman. The Peculiarities of the english
Language. 2011. Web. 14 Aug 2012. .
6Beare, Kenneth. Pronunciation - Silent Letters. Unknown. Web. http://esl