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What’s So Wrong With Using Plain Ol’ English?

Posted by $ Olduglycarl 5 months, 3 weeks ago to Culture
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It is rare that I run into an article that has me nodding my head up and down and leaves with an appreciative smile.

"English is a wonderfully sloppy language. German-based, heavily influenced by Latin and French, with words borrowed from Spain, Italy, Egypt, and many other countries, English is an international goulash of sounds and syllables. (Goulash, by the way, comes from Hungary.) When we use those words with love and care, and we bring light and clarity to our world. Use them negligently, and we end up with ugliness, obfuscation, and a failure to communicate."

Yes, English is a language made from many languages. It holds the most words, concepts and metaphors.
Spoken plainly and to the point, one has the ability to understand most anything.

And that is a treasure.
SOURCE URL: https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/whats-so-wrong-using-plain-ol-english


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  • Posted by $ blarman 5 months, 3 weeks ago
    English is the best language for music, with many short words (mono-syllabic) and many rhyming words. Most other languages use conjugation to combine subject with verb resulting in much longer (multi-syllabic) words which are harder to rhyme and harder to time. Even though English is the "bastard" of all languages, it has a simplicity that is unrivaled. Just don't get my wife started on all the anomalies and exceptions... ;)
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    • Posted by $ 5 months, 3 weeks ago
      I too have those complaints. Spell the way we pronounce or pronounce the way we spell...which in some cases the latter would be virtually impossible.
      And what's up with backward letters?
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    • Posted by $ exceller 5 months, 3 weeks ago
      English may have evolved from other languages but I take issue of it's being sloppy.

      Maybe German based (this is the first time I heard that) but anyone studying/speaking German would attest that there is practically no noticeable trace of that now. German is complicated, using genders and its sentences never end. Same goes for French.

      I agree that English has a simplicity that is unrivaled. That is probably one reason it replaced German in the language of Science after WW2. Practically all scientific literature was in German before that.

      Take computer-related vocabulary. It is impossible to translate technical terms to any other language from English. The information content of English is 20-30% higher than any other. That's why Steve Jobs poured cold water on Mitterrand when the Frenchman came to Silicon Valley and asked him about French software. Jobs turned him down for French being too redundant.

      English has become a world language. There is no place on Earth where it is not spoken at least on a basic level.
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      • Posted by $ blarman 5 months, 3 weeks ago
        English is incredibly sloppy - thus all the exceptions to grammar, spelling, etc. ;) If it were neat and precise it wouldn't have such. That flexibility, however, has allowed it to be extremely efficient.

        It should be noted that at their core, computers don't speak English but rather binary. Its just that its much easier to translate code into machine language from English than any other language. Computers are English-based for several reasons including:
        1) the initial inventors were English. I start with Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage. The early history of computing is all English. (Linus Torvalds was a significant contributor, but long after English was standardized.)
        2) English is simple because all nouns are genderless. This simplifies computation because the computer doesn't have to do an extra compare for relevance on a noun's gender.
        3) English has simple grammar and short words. This makes constructing code simple and straightforward.
        4) Trying to code using pictographs (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mayan, etc.) isn't feasible.

        As far as being a world language, there is no doubt that English is critical. Both business and computers rely on English and any localization is done for comprehension purposes rather than interoperability ones.
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        • Posted by $ exceller 5 months, 3 weeks ago
          "English is incredibly sloppy"

          Which language is not sloppy by your standard?
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          • Posted by $ blarman 5 months, 2 weeks ago
            It is a statement of fact. That doesn't mean the English language isn't useful in expression nor does it mean it can not be used to compose wonderful literature or poetry. But if you have studied any other languages, you know that English from a strictly technical perspective leaves much to be desired in terms of consistency and clarity. The only way one really learns English is not by rule, but by exception. Take pluralization for example. There are many exceptions to the 'add an "s"' rule including words ending in "us" and groups of animals. Add in pronunciation exceptions such as homophones and homonyms - which have the same sound meaning different things. Then you have grammar exceptions such as that vs which.

            No language I have studied is perfect, but English is far and away the largest compilation of exceptions to be called a language in existence. Doesn't mean I want everyone to switch over to Mandarin Chinese where inflection/pronunciation changes meaning. But one has to be willing to confront one's biases to get to the truth of a matter.
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            • Posted by $ exceller 5 months, 2 weeks ago
              Every language has exceptions.

              It is called "Irregular" in the grammar book.

              If you studied French, the language is nothing but a compilation of irregulars and exceptions.

              What is more, same words can have different meanings and different pronunciations.

              Which again is NOT unique to English.
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              • Posted by $ blarman 5 months, 2 weeks ago
                You take issue with my representation of the English language as "sloppy". I gave my objective reasons for my opinion to which you have offered neither alternative nor rebuttal. You're welcome to your opinion but if you want to make it into a debate, you're going to have to provide me more than a red herring about French or your own personal opinions.

                Do I believe that there is a better language? Yup. But it hasn't been heard of in 5000 years or so.
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                • Posted by $ exceller 5 months, 2 weeks ago
                  I don't know what kind of argument you want.

                  I spelled out clearly why I don't think English is a sloppy language.

                  I offered comparisons that you either delve into or not, helping you to make up your mind about the perfect language.
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                  • Posted by $ blarman 5 months, 2 weeks ago
                    "I don't know what kind of argument you want."

                    I wasn't looking to argue about the matter in the first place. I pointed out several ways in which English excels and - much later - several ways in which it is deficient. You were the first to use the word "sloppy" btw - not me. For reasons known only to you, you seemed to take umbrage with the fact that there are deficiencies at all. As to comparisons for "my" benefit, all you did was try to point out a way in which French was a "worse" language than English. All you argue there is relative incompetency/imperfection.

                    I think English is a wonderful language - faults and all. Very useful. English is my native language and I am more well versed in it than many. I've personally studied Spanish, Russian, and Greek - the latter extensively. I'm married to a linguist who can speak seven languages including French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Mandarin Chinese. One of my sons even took after J.R.R. Tolkien and - after teaching himself linguistics - created his own language including pronunciation. My sister is fluent in French, my father and uncle in Mandarin Chinese, my brother in Spanish, my brother-in-law in Tagalog (one variant anyway) and I have friends fluent in German, Korean, Japanese, and more. My family is a veritable Tower of Babel. We're probably the only family I've ever heard of that makes jokes around the dinner table about gluteal fricatives.

                    I love language. I'm just not under any auspices that any single language - especially English - is God's gift to mankind.
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        • Posted by $ exceller 5 months, 3 weeks ago
          "English is simple because all nouns are genderless.

          That is not the only reason. English is a very compact language.

          As for sloppiness, that is up to the practitioner. Some people speak erudite, beautiful English others don't.

          Those who studied/speak other languages certainly appreciate that.
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  • Posted by $ Flootus5 5 months, 3 weeks ago
    I always maintain that English is a very powerful language. I do a lot of writing and I always find that when contemplating a sentence that doesn't seem quite right, there is always another word or phrasing that works better. It is a language that is never at a loss for words.

    I am currently reading Winston Churchill's History of the Second World War. No small undertaking. That guy was a master with the English language.
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    • Posted by Lucky 5 months, 3 weeks ago
      Churchill, one of the great writers. After reading many of the passages I note that they contains everything necessary, could not be shorter, and the sentences seem to 'scan', like poetry, there is a balance of the structure for both eye and ear.

      I recall from that book a little opinion related to this thread-
      Churchill suggested, after the battle of Midway, that the Japanese language though clearly well suited to many tasks, may have been inadequate at very fast translation of directives into the code used for communicating to and between the ships. Or, maybe there was problem not with the language but the situation. The war effort was on a roll, they had achieved all objectives and gone slightly beyond, there had been stalemates and setbacks (Coral Sea), but not strategic. At Midway, Admiral Yamamoto had planned well. But there was all-round competence of the US admirals, Nimitz especially, in responding. Yamamoto did not, or could not, deal with flexibility backed by power.

      Another language story- not from Churchill I think, from memory-
      England, year 1305, King Edward III, the main E-W road Iknield Way crossed the main N-S road Watling Street at Dunstable. Road maintenance was the responsibility of the local landowners. Edward got news that the roads and the junction were in very bad shape.
      He letter to the landowners said-

      " . . . . if it is necessary for Us to intervene, it will be with an eavy and."

      Repairs were done pronto.
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    • Posted by $ 5 months, 3 weeks ago
      "It's a language that is never at a loss for words"...Priceless!
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      • Posted by $ exceller 5 months, 2 weeks ago
        Yes, that is a perfect description.

        Having studied many languages it is amazing that in English you never get lost for finding the correct words.

        It not true by far for many languages where you simply can find the corresponding word. Of course a lot has to do with the history and culture of a nation, its exposure to events, facts, nature, etc.

        That is why English has become a world language.

        You are never lost for words.
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  • Posted by DrZarkov99 5 months, 3 weeks ago
    What I find interesting about English is that it invites careless evolution, so much so that one can observe changes within a single generation. The latest odd change I've observed is a "silent" t in some words becoming common. I first noticed it while watching Battlebots, with the announcer saying "It's robot figh'ing time!" I soon realized it wasn't just there, with many other instances, with teenagers saying they were "wai'ing" for something. A silent t has been around for some time, in such words as "listening," with almost no one pronouncing the t, so that it sounds more like "lissening."

    Misuse or substitution of words leads to new meanings within the language. What used to be the statement that one was "homing in" on a solution (homing as following a course to a destination) has more frequently become "honing in" (honing as sharpening).

    Rapid evolution of English is why it's almost impossible to comprehend Chaucer's middle English prose. It's one of the singular charms of our native speech.
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  • Posted by freedomforall 5 months, 3 weeks ago
    The "upside" of such a language is that eventually "awesome" and "like" will be replaced in colloquial speech. The "downside" is that the replacements may be even more offensive.

    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.

    Good one, OUC. 👍
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  • Posted by Owlsrayne 5 months, 2 weeks ago
    Then why can't the Hispanic immigrants can't speak or learn English? It makes me very angry that these immigrants refuse to speak English. Many stores employ people that speak both English and Spanish. To me that the state of Arizona gives these people no incentive to learn English. When my grandparents immigrated to the US beginning of the twentieth century they had to learn English. Now we have to cater to people who don't speak English.
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  • Posted by Stormi 5 months, 3 weeks ago
    English is a glorious language, sadly, we use fewer and fewer words as years as years pass. The average vocabulary of the average person has dropped dramatically in words used per day. I took 4 years of Latin, and when you translate entire books of Virgil, you know what words are. People seen intimidated by words, and rpoper English, so we dumb down, so as not to intimidate them. Nonsense, raise them up. I workded in a Congressional office, and was told to not write in words that might make constituents feel intimidated. Yet, when we sent out letters to CEOs and educated people, I had to ask theself-described "masters of education" who wrote it, correct six grammar errors in a the one page document. Most unfortunate, she did not know and aregued she had made no errors.I told her it was not going out until she corrected them.
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  • Posted by preimert1 5 months, 3 weeks ago
    Our first assignment in college English 101 was to read the unexperged version of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. What a change from high school English! After rolling on the floor laughing my ass off, we we learned this was the first classic written in Middle English. Great start to begin our culture.

    Later it became that to avoid being labeled vulgar, to say almost anything in Latin and be acceptable, e.g. fornicate vs fuck, urinate vs piss. I wonder how a medical conference would sound if conducted in plain english?
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    • Posted by $ 5 months, 3 weeks ago
      What would happen?...some I've heard, would say that people would now understand them.

      Some espouse that the medical and horticulture fields adopted latin so that the populous would be confused.
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      • Posted by preimert1 5 months, 2 weeks ago
        Mel Brooks did a skit on this. At a medical convention of learned doctors, the speaker saw a little girl sitting in the front row wnd commenced using baby expressions like "woowoo" and "peepee" to continue.

        I love Mel Brooks, he (as Gov. LePetomane from "Blazing Saddlese") should be president--wouldn't get much done, but would be fun to watch.
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  • Posted by LibertyBelle 5 months, 3 weeks ago
    That is pretty good. I know several languages; I speak French, Italian, and can speak a fairly good conversational Japanese. (Reading it is another matter; too many Kanji Chinese characters; but I can write just about anything I want to say, using the hiragana and katakana alphabets. The thing about English is that it does not have too much of that Continental European nonsense about genders, putting sex\
    onto inanimate objects.
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  • Posted by ArtIficiarius 5 months, 3 weeks ago
    The history of the American Standard English language is itself important. Joseph Kimble, Bryan Garner, and Antonin Scalia have spoken of clarity of composition and speech. Hear, hear!
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  • Posted by shaifferg 5 months, 3 weeks ago
    I've often suggested that a few individuals I encountered to attempt airborn intercourse with a
    rotating toridial pastry. I leave the translation to your imagination. English can be fun at times!
    Such as the mathematican's recommendation that it is wise to avoid Drunk Deriving with the admonishment Don't Drink and Derive.
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  • Posted by $ brightwriter 5 months, 3 weeks ago
    Modern reading instruction tends toward the look-say alias whole-word method, in which children look at an unfamiliar word and guess it based on context. Teach children to rely on context, and they will not create but will instead rely on thought patterns already known. Dangerous.

    Also, with modern text-to-speech software and blabbermouths who use it and are too lazy to proofread, homophones abound in print nowadays and so does preventable confusion. The laziness is inferrable from preventable wordiness too. The old days in which type had to be set by hand had a strong disciplinary consequence: brevity was prized.

    Compare my uploads at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbLr..., which have a very high fact density (concepts per minute) relative to most other modern videos, and you will see the difference between careful use of English and its being squandered by the empty-headed verbose. (You may learn something pro-Galt, too. Many of my videos are politically oriented and include health-are concepts.)
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  • Posted by $ allosaur 5 months, 3 weeks ago
    She he! Him her! She he! Him her! She he! Him her!
    To anyone me dino may have offended, allow me to make the following alteration~~
    SHE HE! HIM HER! SHE HE! HIM HER! SHE HE! HIM HER!
    AURGH!
    Me dino thought about including "gals! guys!" in the above snub at lefty group think; but for Philosoraptor me, it softened the impact in an aesthetic kinda way.
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