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Content moved from the phonology sectionEdit

Regional variation in consonantsEdit

There are significant dialectal variations in the pronunciation of several consonants:

  • The th sounds /θ/ and /ð/ are sometimes pronounced as /f/ and /v/ in Cockney, and as dental plosives (contrasting with the usual alveolar plosives) in some dialects of Irish English. In African American Vernacular English, /ð/ has is realized as [d] word initially, and as [v] syllable medially.
  • In North American and Australian English, /t/ and /d/ are pronounced as an alveolar flap [ɾ] in many positions between vowels: thus words like latter and ladder /læɾər/ are pronounced in the same way. This sound change is called intervocalic alveolar flapping, and is a type of rhotacism. /t/ is often pronounced as a glottal stop [ʔ] (t-glottalization, a form of debuccalization) after vowels in British English, as in butter /ˈbʌʔə/, and in other dialects before a nasal, as in button /ˈbʌʔən/.
  • In most dialects, the rhotic consonant /r/ is pronounced as an alveolar, postalveolar, or retroflex approximant [ɹ ɹ̠ ɻ], and often causes vowel changes or is elided (see below), but in Scottish it may be a flap or trill [ɾ r].
  • In some cases, the palatal approximant or semivowel /j/, especially in the diphthong /juː/, is elided or causes consonant changes (yod-dropping and yod-coalescence).
    • Through yod-dropping, historical /j/ in the diphthong /juː/ is lost. In both RP and GA, yod-dropping happens in words like chew /ˈtʃuː/, and frequently in suit /ˈsuːt/, historically /ˈtʃju ˈsjuːt/. In words like tune, dew, new /ˈtjuːn ˈdjuː ˈnjuː/, RP keeps /j/, but GA drops it, so that these words have the vowels of too, do, and noon /ˈtuː ˈduː ˈnuːn/ in GA. A few conservative dialects like Welsh English have less yod-dropping than RP and GA, so that chews and choose /ˈtʃɪuz ˈtʃuːz/ are distinguished, and Norfolk English has more, so that beauty /ˈbjuːti/ is pronounced like booty /ˈbuːti/.
    • Through yod-coalescence, alveolar stops and fricatives /t d s z/ are palatalized and change to postalveolar affricates or fricatives /tʃ dʒ ʃ ʒ/ before historical /j/. In GA and traditional RP, this only happens in unstressed syllables, as in education, nature, and measure /ˌɛd͡ʒʊˈkeɪʃən ˈneɪt͡ʃər ˈmɛʒər/. In other dialects, such as modern RP or Australian, it happens in stressed syllables: thus due and dew are pronounced like Jew /ˈdʒuː/. In colloquial speech, it happens in phrases like did you? /dɪdʒuː/."

Regional variationEdit

The pronunciation of some vowels varies between dialects:

  • In conservative RP and in GA, the vowel of back is a near-open [æ], but in modern RP and some North American dialects it is open [a]. The vowel of words like bath is /æ/ in GA, but /ɑː/ in RP (trap–bath split). In some dialects, /æ/ sometimes or always changes to a long vowel or diphthong, like [æː] or [eə] (bad–lad split and /æ/ tensing): thus man /mæn/ is pronounced with a diphthong like [meən] in many North American dialects.
  • The RP vowel /ɒ/ corresponds to /ɑ/ (father–bother merger) or /ɔ/ (lot–cloth split) in GA. Thus box is RP /bɒks/ but GA /bɑks/, while cloth is RP /klɒθ/ but GA /klɔθ/. Some North American dialects merge /ɔ/ with /ɑ/, except before /r/ (cot–caught merger).
  • In Scottish, Irish and Northern English, and in some dialects of North American English, the diphthongs /eɪ/ and /əʊ/ (/oʊ/) are pronounced as monophthongs (monophthongization). Thus, day and no are pronounced as /ˈdeɪ ˈnəʊ/ in RP, but as [ˈdeː ˈnoː] or [ˈde ˈno] in other dialects.
  • In North American English, the diphthongs /aɪ aʊ/ sometimes undergo a vowel shift called Canadian raising. This sound change affects the first element of the diphthong, and raises it from open [a], similar to the vowel of bra, to near-open [ʌ], similar to the vowel of but. Thus ice and out [ˈʌɪs ˈʌʊt] are pronounced with different vowels from eyes and loud [ˈaɪz ˈlaʊd]. Raising of /aɪ/ sometimes occurs in GA, but raising of /aʊ/ mainly occurs in Canadian English.

GA and RP vary in their pronunciation of historical /r/ after a vowel at the end of a syllable (in the syllable coda). GA is a rhotic dialect, meaning that it pronounces /r/ at the end of a syllable, but RP is non-rhotic, meaning that it loses /r/ in that position. English dialects are classified as rhotic or non-rhotic depending on whether they elide /r/ like RP or keep it like GA.

In GA, the combination of a vowel and the letter ⟨r⟩ is pronounced as an r-coloured vowel in nurse and butter [ˈnɝs ˈbʌtɚ], and as a vowel and an approximant in car and four [ˈkɑɹ ˈfɔɹ].

In RP, the combination of a vowel and ⟨r⟩ at the end of a syllable is pronounced in various different ways. When stressed, it was once pronounced as a centering diphthong ending in [ə], a sound change known as breaking or diphthongization, but nowadays is usually pronounced as a long vowel (compensatory lengthening). Thus nurse, car, four [ˈnɜːs ˈkɑː ˈfɔː] have long vowels, and car and four have the same vowels as bath and paw [ˈbɑːθ ˈpɔː]. An unstressed ⟨er⟩ is pronounced as a schwa, so that butter ends in the same vowel as comma: [ˈbʌtə ˈkɒmə].

Many vowel shifts only affect vowels before historical /r/, and in most cases they reduce the number of vowels that are distinguished before /r/:

  • Several historically distinct vowels are reduced to /ɜ/ before /r/. In Scottish English, fern, fir, and fur [fɛrn fɪr fʌr] are pronounced differently and have the same vowels as bed, bid, and but, but in GA and RP they are all pronounced with the vowel of bird: /ˈfɝn ˈfɝ/, /ˈfɜːn ˈfɜː/ (fern–fir–fur merger). Similarly, the vowels of hurry and furry /ˈhʌri ˈfɜri/, cure and fir /ˈkjuːr ˈfɜr/ were historically distinct and are still distinct in RP, but are often merged in GA (hurry–furry and cure–fir mergers).
  • Some sets of tense and lax or long and short vowels merge before /r/. Historically, nearer and mirror /ˈniːrər ˈmɪrər/; Mary, marry, and merry /ˈmɛɪɹi ˈmæri ˈmɛri/; hoarse and horse /ˈhoːrs ˈhɔrs/ were pronounced differently and had the same vowels as need and bid; bay, back, and bed; road and paw, but in some dialects their vowels have merged and are pronounced in the same way (mirror–nearer, Mary–marry–merry, and horse–hoarse mergers).
  • In traditional GA and RP, poor /pʊr/ or /pʊə/ is pronounced differently from pour /pɔr/ or /pɔə/ and has the same vowel as good, but for many speakers in North America and southern England, poor is pronounced with the same vowel as pour (poor–pour merger).

"English has developed over the course of more than 1,400 years."Edit

The unfortunate limitless "more than" aside, what is "English has developed over the course of more than 1,400 years" intended to mean? A reader can guess, but shouldn't have to. Why select 1400? And a literalist can legitimately claim that yes, as an Indo-European language, English has most definitely developed over the course of far more than 1,400 years. Barefoot through the chollas (talk) 23:43, 11 March 2022 (UTC)

Why stop reading with that sentence? "The earliest forms of English, a group of West Germanic (Ingvaeonic) dialects brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers in the 5th century..." pretty much explains it. Historians disagree on exactly when Old English as we know it began to develop, hence the vague "more than 1,400 years". Before that period, it wasn't Old English, even to a literalist such as myself. BilCat (talk) 00:27, 12 March 2022 (UTC)
Editors owe it to readers to be as clear and accurate as possible. You actually make the point well. Makes much more sense to delete the lead sentence, which is nonsensical as it stands, and just begin with actual information, i.e. the second sentence. True that the text is still left with a possible snare for the ingenuous in "earliest forms of English" without further elaboration, but an alert reader can easily grasp that the lects in question are West Germanic. Barefoot through the chollas (talk) 06:59, 12 March 2022 (UTC)
I disagree that it is nonsensical. You haven't made that case yet. This isn't Simple English Wikipedia, and we don't spoon-feed our readers. This paragraph summarizes the History section, including the first line. The further elaboration is in the History section, not the lead. BilCat (talk) 07:15, 12 March 2022 (UTC)
Oh my. First, re "we don't spoon-feed our readers". Well, actually we must and we do. That's the gig. For the text to be successful, it has to be comprehensible to a general readership, a huge spread of the bell curve -- for the matter at hand very much including those with no experience whatsoever in historical linguistics, language evolution, etc. Producing clear and accurate text for a topic such as language is challenging in ways that producing text for, e.g. quantum theory, is not: our Aunt Molly brings no baggage to her brave attempt to make sense of quantum theory (other than "It's hard to understand."), but she and everyone use language constantly and come to the topic with all sorts of untenable preconceived notions that at the very least should not be encouraged (e.g. "Latin died"). As for "You haven't made that case yet", the case is made by the text itself. An undergraduate term paper beginning "English has developed over the course of more than 1,400 years" would be off to an unfortunate start, not only for the red flag of unqualified "more than" stretching into infinity. A friendly "Would you like to reconsider that first sentence before I grade this?" would be a kind way for an instructor to offer a normally conscientious student the opportunity to rescue him/herself. If the student had been attentive during the term, s/he would likely identify the "problem(s)" immediately, and be glad to execute appropriate repairs on the spot. (I suppose I expected similar here. If so, It appears I was wrong.) Barefoot through the chollas (talk) 20:17, 12 March 2022 (UTC)
What is your proposed improvement? signed, Willondon (talk) 21:44, 12 March 2022 (UTC)
As stated above: remove the first sentence of the paragraph. A slightly more ambitious repair would be re-writing the first sentence to state clearly whatever it was originally intended to mean, assuming that the resulting text is factual, and clear enough not to leave room for misunderstanding. Might not be easy to do that and also keep it succinct, though. Barefoot through the chollas (talk) 00:09, 13 March 2022 (UTC)
Well, I could remove the first sentence of the paragraph for you, if you'd like. Anything more ambitious, I would leave to you. signed, Willondon (talk) 00:20, 13 March 2022 (UTC)
Therein the rub. Anyone hoping to repair the first sentence must first decipher what it was intended to mean. So far no attempts to do that have come forth. Barefoot through the chollas (talk) 15:22, 13 March 2022 (UTC)
It seems the only unsucessful attempts to decipher its meaning to have come forth are yours. signed, Willondon (talk) 16:48, 13 March 2022 (UTC)
Actually, that's unknown. No one has yet ventured to offer an explanation of its intended meaning. Barefoot through the chollas (talk) 20:59, 13 March 2022 (UTC)
I thought we were talking about the attempts to have come forth. Of the two that have come forth, yours is the only one that was apparently unsuccessful. Of the attempts that haven't come forth, I assume most were successful and thus went unremarked. Or perhaps some were unsuccessful, and the reader was too embarrassed to comment. signed, Willondon (talk) 21:17, 13 March 2022 (UTC)
"I thought we were talking about the attempts to have come forth." No attempts have come forth. Perhaps it's time to channel Graham Chapman as The Colonel -- "I’ve noticed a tendency for this programme to get rather silly" -- and leave unsuspecting readers free to interpret "English has developed over the course of more than 1,400 years" as they please. Barefoot through the chollas (talk) 15:50, 14 March 2022 (UTC)
We can be more specific, but again, I don't see the need to, hypothetical prescriptive-grammar college professors not withstanding. However, I will abide by consensus. BilCat (talk) 22:22, 12 March 2022 (UTC)
Absolutely nothing to do with grammar, prescriptive or descriptive. Accuracy and clarity are the issues. Barefoot through the chollas (talk) 00:09, 13 March 2022 (UTC)
From what you've been saying, I think you mean precision, not accuracy. signed, Willondon (talk) 00:20, 13 March 2022 (UTC)
Accuracy in the first instance; precision can be worked in if it's available. Barefoot through the chollas (talk) 15:22, 13 March 2022 (UTC)
I'm not sure this required 1068 words of debate. The simplest solution is to remove that first line because the second line of the paragraph explains the same point precisely. Or accurately at least. Wiki-Ed (talk) 21:25, 15 March 2022 (UTC)
Well done. I've added one little tweak for clarity. Barefoot through the chollas (talk) 16:36, 16 March 2022 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 28 May 2022Edit

Change In contrast to many other Germanic languages there is no major differences between word order in main and subordinate clauses.[211]

To In contrast to many other Germanic languages there are no major differences between word order in main and subordinate clauses.[211] 51.6.97.143 (talk) 11:35, 28 May 2022 (UTC)

  Done 💜  melecie  talk - 11:43, 28 May 2022 (UTC)

English is widely spoken in Europe - the map needs an update.Edit

124.169.133.90 (talk) 08:24, 20 June 2022 (UTC)

The map shows only countries where English is either official or a major first language. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 09:24, 20 June 2022 (UTC)

Cumbersome LeadEdit

The lead is showing signs of bloat as it keeps getting small additions. I am going to make some bold edits to the first paragraph now, but pre-empting queries as to why by opening this talk section.

  1. I am removing lead discussion about where the Angles came from (too much detail).
  2. Removing the bit about England being named for the area they migrated too as that is not quite right and needs a lot of unpacking (but consider, at least , that the Scottish lowlands also saw such migration).
  3. The bit about closest languages is a fraught and debatable topic. I am avoiding it with new wording. Scots is English too, in the Old English period at least.

I may prune other parts soon (will see how this one goes first). Something I noticed in doing the edit is inconsistent referencing style. An editor has been inserting shorter footnotes (sfn) into the document that has not used these in the past. Do we have a view on the best reference style going forward? Sirfurboy🏄 (talk) 13:51, 7 September 2022 (UTC)

Not sfn, certainly. Cite-bandits should be strongly discouraged. Johnbod (talk) 14:01, 7 September 2022 (UTC)
Ah, I took a look at the referencing to see how big an issue it would be to sort it out, and noticed it is not as easy as I had supposed. There are over 300 sfn references in the page, and a lot more than <ref> style. Clearly someone had changed the whole page at some point so I took a look at page history and found some very significant activity in March-May 2015. All sfn references were converted between March and April of that year. The activity appears to have been to prepare the article for GA status. So I may have mis-stated above. It may be there is already an archived consensus for sfn. I will leave that alone for now. Sirfurboy🏄 (talk) 15:51, 7 September 2022 (UTC)

So looking at the second paragraph of the lead, my thoughts are that there is repetition with the first paragraph. We are again told of the West Germanic root, and Norse influence. That was already mentioned in the first paragraph. I don't like "mutated" and think "influenced" by Norse would be better. Sirfurboy🏄 (talk) 07:22, 15 September 2022 (UTC)

Non-Germanic Influence in EnglishEdit

"English is genealogically West Germanic, closest related to the Low Saxon and Frisian languages; however its vocabulary is also distinctively influenced by dialects of French (about 29% of modern English words) and Latin (also about 29%),"

I don't get it, aren't Low Saxon and Frisian (as well as all other surviving modern West Germanic) languages also distinctively influenced by French and Latin? I know modern German and Dutch, for sure, are heavily influenced by French and Latin and you can quite regularly see loanwords from these languages in these written languages. Also why are we still quoting this silly 29/29% figure for loanwords when that study was compiled in such a ridiculous way and included so many technical and rare synonyms that are rarely, if ever, used by the average English-speaker? Now it might not be quite AS heavy as in English, but Dutch and German certainly aren't THAT far off in terms of Latin and French influence. 2.99.93.88 (talk) 02:39, 11 September 2022 (UTC)

Please provide reliable published sources that can be consulted for discussion, otherwise there's really nothing to be discussed here in way of improving the article. BilCat (talk) 04:46, 11 September 2022 (UTC)
The thing is most other language articles seem to be using Swadesh lists in order to measure their word origins. If you did this with English, of course, you have a Germanic language with a significant minority of Latin loanwords (much like German or Dutch with around 25% foreign loanwords, usually from Latin or largely Latin languages like French, it might be around 30-35% in English)
Because of course all Swadesh lists do is take a set amount of the most commonly used words (usually around 1000) in languages and trace their origins.
This article seems to be citing an amateur study from decades ago where a guy basically went through thousands of business letters (which would be more formal and corporate anyway, and contain far more French and Latin synonyms and loanwords, as would formal German and Dutch business letters) and tabulated the words people used and traced their origins?
How is that a reliable source? That's not how linguists assess vocabulary at all. 2.99.93.88 (talk) 16:02, 11 September 2022 (UTC)
This "study" also doesn't seem to have distinguished between French words that come from Frankish (and ultimately Proto-Germanic), and French words which come from Latin. Around 30% of Old French vocabulary was of Frankish origin, and likely slightly higher still was the Germanic influence in Norman Old French) even modern French is still around 15% Frankish in origin (despite attempts to purify it of Frankish influence).
Many of the most commonly used French loanwords in English actually have a Germanic origin through Frankish (flag, banner, abandon, merchant, banner, standard, forest, common etc. etc. etc.)
Having said that, I don't know if it takes into account words from Old English that were of Latin origin either (Old English was around 25% Latin loanwords itself).
I feel like the article could elaborate more on this complex nature of language borrowing in European languages, since there is a common, erroneous perception that English is not a Germanic language due to many loanwords from other languages. 2.99.93.88 (talk) 16:16, 11 September 2022 (UTC)
Shouldn't be too difficult to add a bit of text that relaxes the hold that lexicon has on people who don't really understand how language works. Direct attention to structural components that actually characterize the language type -- morphology, syntax. Barefoot through the chollas (talk) 03:39, 15 September 2022 (UTC)
I think the sentence is okay (maybe we could change the percentages to something more vague like "almost a third" or "over a quarter" or "between a third and a quarter"). It describes the situation perfectly well, is clear that the French and Latin influence is in the number of vocabulary words, saying nothing of frequency of use, and when we get down to it, the discussion above is confusing West Germanic and Germanic. That is a problem because English did derive from West Germanic but many of those most frequent Germanic words in the language now come from Norse influence, which is North Germanic.
The one change I would like is to change "closest" back to "closely". I tried that change before, but it was changed back. I understand why we want to say English is closest to Frisian, but the concept of closest language is all so debatable. In a summary in the lead, I think it is enough that we single out Frisian and Low Saxon as the closely related West Germanic languages. Sirfurboy🏄 (talk) 07:07, 15 September 2022 (UTC)

L2 SpeakersEdit

As per Ethnologue, 2022 Edition, English now has over a billion L2 speakers , someone please update the article accordingly. Bodhiupasaka (talk) 20:29, 1 October 2022 (UTC)