Articles tagged with: English language
In previous posts, I have argued that the constructions identified by Faarlund and Emonds as Scandinavian imports developed internally to English, although the presence of large numbers of Norse-speaking Vikings, especially in northern England, played an important role in precipitating some of these changes. Thus, Faarlund’s statement that “it is highly irregular to borrow the syntax and structure from one language and use it in another language” is erroneous. In fact, languages in close contact over a long period often do swap grammar as well as words.
In the previous post, we concluded that preposition stranding (that is putting a preposition at the end of the sentence, as in Who did you talk to?) is not a Scandinavian contribution to English, but a natural development of a structure that was already present in Old English. Let’s now consider the more fundamental change from the Object-Verb (OV) to the Verb-Object (VO) pattern that characterized the transition from Old English to Middle English. It too cannot be attributed wholly to the Vikings for several reasons.
When it comes to matters of language and linguistics, the popular media’s “scientific” reporting typically sensationalizes studies that make outlandish (and often unsupported) claims, while ignoring other work on the same topic. In the next few posts we will look at several articles on specific Indo-European languages that have recently received much attention in the press and the blogosphere, starting with a revisionist history and classification of the English language.
In an op-ed piece entitled “What You (Really) Need to Know,” published in the New York Times in January 2012, Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard University and former secretary of the Treasury, calls on universities to reduce the substantial investments made to teach students foreign languages. Though he understands that “it is essential that the educational experience breed cosmopolitanism”, he thinks that the efforts made to master a foreign tongue are no longer “universally worthwhile”. In his utopian worldview, English is perfectly sufficient for such utilitarian purposes as “doing business in Asia, treating patients in Africa, or helping resolve conflicts in the Middle East”. But is it really so?
In a number of earlier GeoCurrents posts we have mentioned diplomatic tensions over the Falkland/Malvinas Islands, an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom claimed by Argentina (see here, here, and here). This island group consists of some 780 islands in South Atlantic, with the total area of about 4,700 square miles, which is slightly larger than Jamaica or Kosovo, slightly …