Friday, 3 December 2010

English...Oh...English

The British Library is currently having a rather interesting exhibition that I recently attended: Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices. That sets me thinking about how English can be rather confusing, in its make up, pronunciation and the understanding of its meaning.

For example - take the name of places.
Gloucester is pronounced with silent "ce", as in "Glouster".
Likewise, Leicester Square in London is also pronounced with silent "ce", as in "Leister Square."
But Cirencester is pronounced in full, as in "Ci-ren-ces-ter."

Another rather interesting example about people and places.
Those from England are called English
Those from Scotland are called Scottish
Those from Ireland are called Irish
but those from Wales are not called Welshish or Welish. And a Welsh person is not from Welshland.

Let's think about the church now.
Church of England is Anglican
Church of Wales is Anglican
Church of Northern Ireland is Anglican
But Church of Scotland is not Anglican but Presbyterian!!

Finally, this is what I like best. I know of a single woman who celebrated her 50th birthday recently. After her birthday, she insisted that everyone should address her as Madam followed by her surname, and not Miss followed by her surname, as has always been her practice all along. The reason? She was told that those who are 50s and above should only be known as Madam to reflect one's status or rank in life. I think it is wise of me not to mention the other meanings of Madam as well.

Indeed, one language, many voices!

43 comments:

trinadh said...

Quite good.English has always been
an intresting language and the fact
is that it is versatile and different and that may be the reason why it is described as 'one
language with many voices.English
offers an identity to people from
all countries as said in the post.

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andrie k sunyigono said...

hhooo hooooo ... is it english a good language. I think english is inconsistent language... Let's look for another language for inter convers... heeeheeee

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Yeah, English is a good language!

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Katya said...

haha well, I had to learn english as my second language (after Russian) and let me tell you.. "English... Oh... English" is a common phrase around this house! It's a beautiful language with many rules and even more exceptions to those rules.

I wonder what it would be like if our ancestors never built the Tower of Babylon and we still had only one language to speak :P

Kay Wiz said...

American English is my only language and you did a great job explaining some very simple reasons why many folks have trouble with speech. I am a very literal person, for that reason I had to have speech therapy as a child.
One other point I must make is the contributions from Latin and Greek has made to the English language. Also some meanings of root words change because on time and traditions. Agree???

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