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Education: Why is "English" so hard to learn?

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posted on Jul, 25 2011 @ 08:02 PM
Man, English is a hard language to learn…

Examples below…same-spelling words have -different- meanings…

= = = =

1. We must polish the Polish furniture.

2. He could lead if he would get the lead out.

3. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

4. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

5. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

6. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

7. I did not object to the object.

8. The bandage was wound around the wound.

9. The farm was used to produce produce.

10. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

11. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13. They were too close to the door to close it.

14. The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18. After a number of injections my jaw got number.

19. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

20. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

21. How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Source: html

posted on Jul, 25 2011 @ 08:08 PM
English....surpiselingly enough, is easy, compared to Japanese, even Latin. Chinese is 100000x harder. You have to have an EXACT pitch for the word you're using. That's insane

posted on Jul, 25 2011 @ 08:19 PM
reply to post by mr10k

Thx mr10k...

That 'pitch' comment was a real 'curveball'


posted on Jul, 25 2011 @ 08:21 PM
Put simply it is because the English language is a hybrid of many languages
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posted on Jul, 25 2011 @ 09:11 PM

Originally posted by mr10k
English....surpiselingly enough, is easy, compared to Japanese, even Latin. Chinese is 100000x harder. You have to have an EXACT pitch for the word you're using. That's insane

Latin is as easy to learn as Spanish (Latin 7th & 8th was proficient/ took me 4 years to learn Spanish). Japanese was not my cup of tea. I lasted about three weeks before I realized it really was hard to learn several alphabets for one language.

English seems to be super difficult because we use so many synonyms while in many other languages the word's meaning is pretty set in stone.
edit on 25-7-2011 by MasterGemini because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 26 2011 @ 03:22 AM
reply to post by mr10k

English isn't easy, it's just REALLY flexible.

For example: "Man who goed to store brung not his wollet which he forget."

That sentence is grammatically awful as well as having bad spelling. But since English is so flexible we can tell what the person is probably saying "The man went to the store but forgot his wallet."

posted on Jul, 26 2011 @ 03:29 AM
reply to post by Dark Ghost

Indeed. Unlike French which is governed by some Government council on what words are French and how to use them, English is pretty much open to interpretation.

Kind of like Windows vs Apple stuff. One is pretty much open where you can do almost what you like on it, the other is a walled garden where you can only do what those who control it say you can do.

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 06:28 AM
English language learn to easy but make perfect its hard .Regular basis use you will be make perfect.

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 07:24 AM
reply to post by Dark Ghost

English is a basic level language. U can understand foreign people speaking horrible english because u native or prefect speaker so u can resolve. Trust me, i can do the same with my mother-language. I catch up my english the recent 4 years working in netherlands, but i don't have a clue to dutch, how is that? It's hard, not to mention languages with different scripts. As a 30+ aged hungarian i've learned russian in the elementary school, my friend that is not simple. English is, at least on my level

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 07:38 AM
I had great difficulty learning English as a child. I couldn't read or write until my late teens, it was diagnosed as dyslexia... But I think it's a fault in the system
Funnily enough I found Japanese to be easy, as the Modern Japanese is phonetic and the Alphabets are easy once you understand their context. (Expect, Kanji. I didn't learn enough to get a true understanding of it.)

Anyway, English is a combination of many, many languages. It has (from the top of my head) Celt, Nord, Norman, Latin, Greek, German and French influence. It also borrows words from other places, example: Arabic - Alcohol. Sanskrit - Shampoo. Then there are differences between American English and British English, just to add to the muddiness.

On top of that we have a very confusing Gamma system and syntax. The one that gets me all the time is: your, you're and the difference between THAT and WHICH.

Basically English as we know it today is a new language, the systems that we have developed are less than 300 years old. Samuel Johnston developed the first English dictionary around 1755 that set in stone how we spell. We also had figures like Shakespeare who would 'make up' words to fit into his poems, example, auspicious.

By the time we started having Academics trying to sort out English, it was already a mess. So all these silly rules were created to try and make it standard.

THEN we also have 'Style'. You will find that all English publications will have different styles of gamma and syntax. The famous Oxford Comma is an example. In Australia, The Age newspaper is known to capitalise the letter A in Aboriginal and I in Indigenous, where as the Herald Sun do not capitalise either. Also 'style' is unique to whatever country, I'm sure the Style Manual of USA or Britain is very different to that of Australia.

In the end, English is hard because it is flexible and adaptable. What I really have trouble with is gamma, syntax and the inconstancy of it. "I before E except after C."

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 07:47 AM
I've often wondered if other languages have puns, rhyming (like in songs, poems) and double entendres like English does.

edit on 27/7/11 by EnigmaAgent because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 07:53 AM
English is hard to learn because there aren't many rules. Japanese is the opposite, it is extremely complicated. How hard a language is to learn depends on what language you are coming from.
Then you have American where nothing means what it is supposed to mean.

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 08:38 AM

Originally posted by EnigmaAgent
I've often wondered if other languages have puns, rhyming (like in songs, poems) and double entendres like English does.

edit on 27/7/11 by EnigmaAgent because: (no reason given)

yes indeed!

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 05:21 PM
The reason English spelling seems difficult is that we have not had a spelling reform recently like the other languages nearby. Spanish went through orthographic reform in the 1800s. Portuguese went through orthographic reform as recently as a decade ago.

No language is perfect when it comes to writing because the sounds we speak are always changing, slightly, from generation to generation. Even Japanese is not a perfect correspondence between the syllables in their syllabary and actual pronunciation. For example, "wo" is not pronounced "wo" but rather identical to "o"; "su" is not always pronounced as such, sometimes "-s" when at the end of a word.

Spanish is not perfect either, but it's closer than English when it comes to letter-to-sound correspondence.

Some languages "seem" harder because of what you learn to do in their grammar. For example, English speakers learn Spanish is school and the students struggle with all the verb endings and noun/adjective agreement. However, the vice-versa is true. When Spanish speakers learn English they struggle with word order.

This is because English is a more or less isolating language (word A, word B, word C, word D = one meaning; word B, word C, word D, word A = a different meaning).

example Record payments have been made. vs. Payment records have been made.; John gave Mary an apple. vs. Mary gave John an apple.

Spanish, on the other hand, is a synthetic language (mostly), in which the endings and clitics (little words that have no "individual" meaning of words are richer and more important than the word order. (word A-ending 1, word B-ending 2, word C, word D = one meaning; word A-ending 2, word B ending 2, word C, word D = different meaning)

example Juan le dio una manzana a Maria = A Maria le dio una manzana Juan = Le dio Juan una manzana a Maria ; but not a Juan le dio una manzana Maria etc.

Languages like English: Chinese, Haitian Creole, Thai, Vietnamese, Yoruba, Burmese
Languages like Spanish: Japanese, French, Russian, Turkish, Navajo, Zulu, Arabic, Nahuatl (Aztec), Finnish, Quechua (Incan) and many, many more.

Most languages work like Spanish, with verb endings that change to reflect the person and word order that is not rigid (you can change around the location of words without changing the meaning). Some of those languages go a step further, making use of "case" endings, where the word for "house" has a different ending if it is "in the house", "to the house", "for the house", "of the house", etc...Finish is known to be the most extensive in its case system. Other notable languages that do this are Turkish, Russian, Czech, Polish (the Slavic languages) and German to an extent.

Keep in mind, English does all this to some extent. For example, we have verbal inflection (conjugation) when we say I drink, you drink, he/she/it drinks, we drink, y'all drink, they drink. We also have plural markers on most words (apples, bananas, oxen, etc.), possessive marker (John's, Mary's) and object pronouns (I vs. me, he vs. him, etc.).

At the end of the day, English is not any more difficult than any other language.

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 05:26 PM
so true!

not to mention there's different usages even in different countries' forms of the language.

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 05:32 PM
reply to post by EnigmaAgent

Not only do they, but they tend to work differently than in English. Every language has it's own double meanings and these never correspond. This is why translating humor can be difficult. A show like the Simpson's may employ a type of humor based on the language (or pop culture or topical events) and that leads to a very complex issue for understanding.

I remember when I lived in Brazil, The Woody-woodpecker show was on and in the cartoon, something happened to "Woody" and his shaken character kicked a nearby bucker, upon which he fell down in the typical position holding a flower.

"To kick the bucket" means "to die" in English. A literal translation to Portuguese is an expression also, but not for dying, rather for getting really angry (which makes sense, like throwing a fit).

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 05:34 PM

The modern 'English' Language is spoken (as it always was) with different dialects - often with the same word meaning two different things depending on where you live - compare e.g. the 'English' language spoken in Newcastle, England ('Ave you got a fag, mate?') with what passes for the 'English' lanuage spoken West Hollywood California ( - with the Hollyweirdo listening to the chap from Newcastle, he might think he meant, ' you have a boyfriend yet?') instead of what he really meant e.g. 'Excuse me, do you have a cigarette?'

The trouble with 'the English language' is that it has a large vocabulary - more than most languages spoken to-day with something like 35,000 words !!!

And it grows every day !

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 05:38 PM

Originally posted by aaralsharma
English language learn to easy but make perfect its hard .Regular basis use you will be make perfect.

What he said

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 05:57 PM
reply to post by nixie_nox

This isn't really true. All languages have rules, native speakers tend not to be aware of their own language's rules because we learn the rules as young children before we can read or write. Later, in schooling (at least in languages that are written) we learn a more complex form of rules regarding "correct" grammar and discourse structure.

Some English "rules" are:

- "The first noun principle" -- the first noun in a sentence is always the subject (the person or thing doing an action), never the object (the person or thing receiving the action):
"Robert grew a mustache", "Gina has a car", never "Grew a mustache Robert" (valid order in Spanish, though so is the first one) or "A car has Gina" (also valid in Spanish).

-Transitivity - does an action word (a verb) exist on its own or with a compliment, or both:
"John ran" or "John ran the program" (different meanings)
"Mary slept" but never "Mary slept something" (although, I suppose "Mary slept the morning away")
"John ate" or "John ate an apple" (same meaning, but more precise with an object [apple])
A verb like "give" always has to be transitive - I can't think of a meaningful phrase like "Philip gave" or "I will give" ...give what? to whom?

- Third-person "s" (I drink, you drink, he drinks / I discuss, you discuss, she discusses)

- Countable vs. non-countable, some things cannot be counted without words that describe the container or individual constituent (a bottle of, a tube of, a grain of, a loaf of, a sheet of, etc.)
-a car, the car, some cars, no cars
-a sand, the sand, some sand, no sand
-a milk, the milk, some milk, no milk (although "a milk" in popular speech could mean "a container or cup of milk"
**This is the same rule that makes a difference between using "many" and "much", not all languages have this distinction.

-Articles: a (an), the - not all languages have these words, and those that do do not always use them the same way as English. For example, in English, we say "I like dogs" vs. "I like the dogs". They mean something slightly different based on context. In Spanish, you would only say "I like the dogs" but it means the same as either in English, you would just have to clear up the context (, "all dogs" or "just the dogs we were talking about a few seconds ago"). In Slavic languages like Polish, there is no word for the, so to say "I have the book" or "I have a book", you would only say "I have book" (Though you could specify by saying "I have 'that' book" or "I have 'one' book".

These are just a hand-full of examples. There are many more that none of us consider on a day to day basis while talking with friends and family.

posted on Jul, 27 2011 @ 06:02 PM
reply to post by Sigismundus

The reason we have so many words is because unlike other languages that combine words to make new words, we borrow from Latin, Greek or less likely another foreign language.

So, for example, we use a word like television, whereas German uses "Fernsehen" (Far-seeing) which is actually exactly what the word we use means originally.

Other examples:

-nuclear (comes from Greek for "kernel"); Polish just uses their word for "kernel"
-automobile (comes from Greak for self-moving); Polish uses "samochod" which just means "self-moving" in their own words.
-expose' (comes from French for "exposed")
-many more...

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