Susan Miles Gulbransen: What’s Driving English Words? | Houses & Life-style

Ashley S. Crofoot

What retains us heading as a result of the day? Food stuff, drinking water and words. Food stuff and water you know about, but terms like the English language? How lots of do you ordinarily use?

Young adults have about 10,000 phrases in their brains, when grownups regular 20,000 or even 30-40,000. Phrase decisions are affected by life-style these types of as professions, instruction, pursuits, and the place individuals are living in the environment. English can feel like no significant offer. Or is it and from exactly where?

“English is a nuts language, and has acquired the greatest vocabulary and the noblest literature in the historical past of the human race,” says Richard Lederer, with “Anguish English,” his very best recognized reserve about language.

“Even now, you have to speculate about a language in which your house can burn up and down at the same time, you fill in a kind by filling it out, you include up a column of figures by introducing them down, and you to start with chop down a tree, and then you chop it up,” he claims.

The English language lives, adjustments and grows often with humor. My sister, Elizabeth Miles Jacobelli, recently despatched a quotation demonstrating an instance of puns:

“If you discover cows sleeping in a discipline, does that signify it is pasture bedtime?” We have had entertaining with the third longest (34 letters) phrase utilised in the 1964 well-known movie, “Mary Poppins” — supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Amongst the complete of 6,500 languages made use of in today’s entire world, 12 top the record. English is the most important — 1.132 billion speakers. The following 4 include things like Mandarin Chinese (1.117 billion), Hindi (615 million), Spanish (534 million), and French (280 million).

Our big language is significantly from excellent with numerous weird dissimilarities. French “borrowed” text frequently include elegance and romance, primarily when attached to Latin, a language from historic Rome.

German, Dutch and Anglo-Saxon terms have provided several roots to English, whilst Latin and Greek terms enhance ours with intellectual or educational polish. The English phrase father has similarities with German vater, French pere, Latin pater and Greek pateras.

The oldest languages, Sumerian and Egyptian, began about 3200 B.C. with Chinese following in 1500 B.C. English commenced in the fifth century A.D. with three phases since: Aged English right up until the Norman Conquest in 1066 Middle English right up until Shakespeare’s common producing interval when Fashionable English began in 1600s.

English-speakers 200 yrs in the past utilized one particular-tenth of the terms we use now. Many words and phrases modify considerably earning our language different yr soon after year.

Does English baffle you? It does me, but my curiosity wins. Words and phrases have drawn from 350 other languages, according to Richard Nordquist on ThoughtCo. Given that the fifth century, English totals about 1,022,000 phrases with 1,000 to 5,000 additional added just about every year. The language includes diverse types, these types of as archaic phrases unused right now.

The major dictionary in the entire world is the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which started research in 1857. Early, restricted publications started in 1895, but the initial complete version was revealed in 1928 with 10 volumes.

Given that English keeps escalating, a 2nd edition was revealed in 1989 with 20 volumes and 21,728 webpages. A third edition was about 50 % way performed in 2018 and continuing.

Solitary complement OED guides arrived out in 1933. Right now they contain close to 273,000 text, 171,476 of them in existing use 47,156 obsolete words with all over 9,500 derivative words bundled as subentries.

From the beginning, OED never ever deleted phrases entered over the past 160 decades, but active text make up the smaller dietary supplement dictionaries. Electronic dictionary variations became offered in 1988.

Language is wired with grammar, anything we tend to disregard. Elementary college young ones, like us again then, pay out minor attention to grammar till more mature. When aware, we can make terms additional productive. They can adjust and improve additional complicated, or fade more than time.

It impresses me that producing finished lengthy ago can at times be recognized right now. Think of Shakespeare’s 17th century’s operate when Present day English commenced.

Correct grammar would make speeches and composing simpler to comprehend. If incorrect, it can distract. Studying grammar would make English more robust and extra comfy.

Two grammatical examples when misused bug me — commas and pronouns. I had to discover about them, but still make issues myself. These pretty brief examples trace about dealing with English to make it more detailed and engaging.

Misplaced commas in a contract can price major dollars. If made use of adequately, commas reveal certain separations of language and can protect against misunderstandings. Much more popular are daily misunderstood commas like “Let’s consume, Grandma!” or “Let’s consume Grandma!”

Pronouns are typically used incorrectly or in the improper position. “Ryan and me gave a party for my partner and I.” First test “I gave a occasion for me.” Then make an less difficult variation with the accurate sentence and no distraction. “Ryan and I gave a celebration for my spouse and me.”

Patricia T. O’Conner’s current grammar e book “Woe Is I” assists apparent uncertainty. “I” is the appropriate way alternatively of “Woe Is Me.” The verb “to be” calls for topic pronouns on every facet, different from most other verbs but prevalent. The goal pronoun “me” demonstrates a further popular misuse.

O’Conner says, “And let us face it, English is screwy. Brilliant educated technologically savvy persons who can operate a personal computer distribute sheet with their toes are read each working day indicating things like: ‘Come to lunch with the manager and I.’ Just take out ‘the boss and’ to see the mistaken use of “I.”

Learning and utilizing English language with its countless complexities enriches communication. O’Conner suggests: “Believe me, it is worthy of the effort. Life could be simpler if we all spoke Latin. But the quirks, the surprises, the at any time-hanging nature of English — these are the dissimilarities concerning a living language and a dead one particular.”

— Noozhawk columnist Susan Miles Gulbransen — a Santa Barbara native, author and e book reviewer — teaches composing at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and by the Santa Barbara City University Continuing Education and learning Division. Click below to go through previous columns. The thoughts expressed are her own.

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