1. SailorStar says

    A couple of decades ago, I got a class from The Learning Company (now called The Great Courses) on the history of the English language. It was fantastic! Dr. Seth Lerner was the professor who gave the course.

    Quick summary: English is a pidgin language; the indigenous Britons (who may or may not have been Keltoi–Celts–from Germany). They were invaded and conquered many times, by the Romans, Angles, Saxons, Norse (Scandinavians) and Normans (French).

    Scotland had the Picts, the Gaels, and the Celts.

    Cornwall had the Celts. Wales had a thriving Neanderthal population before the Celts came.

    All over the island of Britain, the native populations were battling and trading with each other and the in-comers. Out of this came a pidgin language called English, which grew and changed over the centuries. Spelling wasn’t regularized until fairly recently: even in Shakespeare’s time (late 1500s through early 1600s), even educated people spelled the same words differently depending on whim.

    And that’s what we’ve got today. A language that’s a mish-mash of other languages and inconsistent spelling.

  2. SailorStar says

    Another fun quirk of English: the verb “to go”. There used to be two verbs meaning “to go”–“to go” and “to wend”. The only times the “to wend” is used are simple past tense of go–“I went, you went, he/she went, etc.. and the specific phrase “wend(ed)”–“I wended my way through the supermarket until I found the eggs.”

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