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  • A Short History of the English Language
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    A Short History of the English Language

    Prior to c.450, the peoples of Britannia (Britons) spoke Celtic languages. Between 388 and 400, Romans occupied Britannia (modern England and Wales). Celtic-speaking Scots and Picts lived north of the Romanized Britons. In c.450, Germanic tribes including the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes invaded Britannia. The language that developed was Old English. Just as there are […] More

  • Thieves, Knives, and Chiefs and English Plurals
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    Thieves, Knives, and Chiefs and English Plurals

    English is rule-based. I repeat: Like all languages, English is rule-based. A tweet recently appeared in my Twitter feed in which Merriam-Webster, the dictionary, touted the nonsense that English rejects order. “Because English rejects order. It actively opposes it. It lures order into an empty house and sets a series of Home Alone-style traps to […] More

  • A Short History of 'You'
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    A Short History of ‘You’

    “What’s wrong with you?” posits the Oxford Dictionaries. But, seriously, what’s up with the oddness that is the second person personal pronoun in English: you. Spanish has six ways of referring to you: tĂș, vos, usted, vosotros, vosotras, and ustedes. German has eight: du, dich, dir, ihr, euch, Sie, Ihnen. Why does English have only […] More

  • Why Is 'Love' Not Spelled 'Luv'?
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    Why Is ‘Love’ Not Spelled ‘Luv’?

    Have you ever thought about the English language and considered the orthographic system downright wacky? Many words have a “silent e” at the end and others have a “silent b” in the middle. Not even the second month of the year gets away without an r that may or may not be pronounced. Befuddling as […] More

  • No Doubt the "Silent B" Owes a Subtle Debt to History
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    No Doubt the “Silent B” Owes a Subtle Debt to History

    School children all over the English-speaking world bemoan the many “silent” letters of English spelling. The orthographic system of the English language appears inconsistent at first. Many words have a “silent e” and February has an ‘r’ that is sometimes but sometimes not pronounced. Despite initial impressions, the “silent” letters of English spelling reveal a […] More

  • Are You Wondering About the 'R' in February?
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    Are You Wondering About the ‘R’ in February?

    English spelling appears inconsistent at first. From silent letters to doubled letters, the orthography of English seems downright wacky to native and foreign speakers of the language. However, delving into the history of words reveals that the spelling of English makes more sense than first impressions imply. For example, why does February have an r […] More