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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