Thursday, November 24, 2011

Why the nuances of English can never be taught

Not an original thought but never mind. I have adapted it.

A bride is in bed with her bloke and she grasps his excitement and asks, 'What is this thing called love?'

Or did she say, 'What it this thing called, love?', which has an entirely different meaning and even so can still have two meanings.

Try explaining that to anyone who is trying to learn English. I am often queried at work by workmates who have English as a second language, and quite regularly all I can say is, that is how it is.

20/09/10 Yes, I am clearing some old posts.


  1. The english language is definitely a quirky beast to handle even worse for someone learning it as a second language :-).

  2. My mother in law spoke Yiddish, Czech, German and Hungarian at home, so she was no slouch with languages. But I thought English was going to defeat her.

    After she became a widow in her 60s, she bought a television and started listening to Australian English in her own lounge room. She still made hilarious mistakes, but I was pretty impressed.

    The way to go with foreign languages is to definitely learn them as a child! It is too difficult later on.

  3. Windsmoke, very few of us get it right all the time. It must be very difficult for second language learners.

    That's interesting Hels. If your MIL was 60 now, she might be sitting down to watch cable tv in her own languages, reading newspapers in her languages online and not learning English from the tv. Never thought about that aspect of migrants before. Does it follow that non English speaking people are now less likely to learn English? Yes, language needs to be absorbed by the sponge like brains of children.

  4. Foreign expressions like Quelle est cette chose appelée l'amour
    [what is this thing called the love]
    do not lend themselves to humour.


  5. Quite open to interpretation FruitCake.

  6. Tell me about it. I had to help my husband learn English way back when we first met. There are so many little nuances that we don't think about normally. I also had similar experiences with new migrant kids that I had in my classes over the 30 years that I was teaching. Our plural system is a shocker. My husband still gets muddled with V and f, also v and w.

  7. Ah yeah, he is Swiss I think. So many from other countries struggle with our v and w, with many not being able to even say v. If you are born to it, it is easy, and hard to understand why it is so difficult.

  8. hahaha. yes, a man's excitement is a terrible wonder to behold.

  9. I remember being embarassed listening to my parents speaking English when I was very young. We'd come from Germany when I was just a baby, but even after I'd started at school, they still spoke differently. "Yellow" was "Jellow", "with" was always "mit", the german word for with, "something" became "semzing". Things improved as time passed, but my dad never got the hang of "y". Every "Y" word was pronounced with "J" instead until the day he died.

  10. Indeed it is Tim.

    River, it is the role of parents to embarrass their children in whatever way they can. I guess you don't speak German?

  11. Not a single word. If my parents had continued to speak German to us while we were kids, we probably all would be able to. Like the Italians, Greeks and Asians do now, English when out, the home language at home.
    Years later I did try to learn, but just couldn't get my head around it. I probably didn't really want to.

  12. I suppose it might have been good if you learnt German, River, but ultimately, not of much benefit in your life.

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