Self Generated exercise answers 1 for lin204.pdf

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Anne- St Amand

1 In all the exercises for this book we are as interested in how you think about things as in whether you can recall a particular correct answer so if you can think of an argument that is not used in our suggested answers then you might still want to check it with your lecturer and tutor Answers to exercises Chapter 1 1 Public opinions about English These statements illustrate widely held misconceptions about language and the English language in particular Here weve provided a brief discussion of each of them together with some handy references that you might like to follow up 1 English is the language of England At the start of Chapter 11 we quote the words of Homer Simpson English Who needs that Im never going to England As we describ e here Homer is completely mistaken and not simply for the reason that English is the standard language of the USA The worlds population is around six billion and a staggering proportion of this six billion are already regular users of Englishapproximately one out of every five of the worlds population speaks English to some level of competence This global takeover by English probably began more than 450 years ago with the initial spread towards Wales and Scotland Since that time English has been slowly but surely bulldozing its way to becoming the language of the worldand now even the language of space and cyberspace The need for international intelligibility coupled with a series of geographical cultural economic and political episodes has secured the position of English as a global lingua franca or common language well at least for the momentspeakers of English should not be complacent Worldwide opportunities involving trade international travel satellite broadcasting the information superhighway world press world stock markets and multinational corporations are changing the concept of the English speech community beyond recognition No longer are we simply looking at a group of people bound together because they live close by and speak the same language English has now established itself in almost every corner of the globe and as Crystal 2006 412 put it No one nation can any longer be said to own English and no one nations anxieties over local norms of usage will make much impact in a world where diverse regional standards are the norm and where the Internet provides these varieties with new levels of public display Recommended reading Svartvik J and Leech G 2006 English one tongue many voices Houndvilles Palgrave Macmillan Crystal D 2006 Into the twenty first century In L Mugglestone ed The Oxford history of English pp 394414 Oxford Oxford University Press 2 English is the hardest language to learn 2 In fact it is impossible to say which language is the hardest to learn There are basically two reasons for this One it depends where you start from If English is your mother tongue then its going to be far harder to learn a language that isnt closely relatedor indeed linguistically related at all An English speaker would find Irish or Welsh difficult more difficult than Dutch and German These languages are all relatives to be sure but Dutch and German are near relatives being in the same Germanic family as English Even harder to learn would be languages from a completely different language family say one of the Australian Aboriginal languages a Dravidian language like Tamil or perhaps an Amerindian language like Nootka or Navaho The sounds and grammar would be very different and the vocabulary unfamiliar not just in form but also in content But what also makes it hard to determine the relative difficulty of a language is that we are dealing with complexity at different levels One example might involve say morphology As you will see in this book when it comes to grammatical morphology English is rather impoverished An English noun like duck can have two forms only duckducks and verbs come in fours quackseding Modern Italian and Spanish verbs have about 50 different forms Classical Greek verbs 350 There are some languages such as many of the American Indian languages that show far greater morphological complexity than even the Greek Polysynthetic languages as they are known show mindbogglingly long and complicated word forms at least from the perspective of an English speaker But then you have to take in other aspects of the languagefor example sounds and sentence construction There are also languages that might be described as difficult from the point of view of rules of politeness and indirect speech styles So heres the rubit is impossible to say what language is the hardest to learn because there is no straightforward measure of simplicity Typically what you find is complexity in one area of the language and simplicity in another Recommended reading Trudgill P and Bauer L eds 1998 Myths about language New York Penguin 3 Writing is a more perfect form of language than speech Once upon a time we wrote as we spoke Speech was primary and writing was there to represent it visually Nowadays its the reverse When reading and writing ceased to be educational luxuries but rather became necessities writing took centre stage and speech started to be viewed more as its oral representation Writing also took a hold of our minds in ways it hadnt done before cf Bolinger 1980 51 So focused are we now on the written word that many of us dont even think words exist until we see how they are spelledsomehow they dont become real until we can actually see them Literate people also attribute sounds to the letters of these wordswe are expected to say our hs we are expected not to drop our gs This is nonsensical of course because letters dont have sounds they symbolise sounds But ours is very much a society where the linguistic tail wags the dogeven what we now think of as the rules of English grammar are based largely on written texts As Jim Miller once told us when the Watergate Tapes were first transcribed and reproduced in the papers the public was horrifiedhow could they have elected people who are unable
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