Introductory Phonetics and Phonology: A Workbook Approach

By Linda I. House | Go to book overview

Appendix A Background of the English Language

The study and understanding of the English language is significant to the world as a whole. There are currently 330 million native speakers in 44 countries where English is the official language. This equates to 1.6 billion people or one third of the world's population. This number is in comparison to 260 million people speaking Spanish and 100 million speaking French.


REASONS FOR THE POPULARITY AND PROMINENCE OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

The first reason for the popularity of the English language is its extensive vocabulary base. There are 615,000 current entries in the Oxford English Dictionary. This number is significant, also, for what it does not represent. There are an additional 200,000 technical and scientific terms not represented in the dictionary.

Second, English uses a flexible word order, meaning the positions of words can be changed within the sentence. In English it is possible to say "The man drove the car" and "The car was driven by the man." Many words can also act as more than one part of speech. In these examples, the two versions of drive are verbs, however, drive is a noun in this sentence: "Let's go for a drive."

Third, English is actually less complex in its spelling than other languages. Fourth, English uses few tonal variations that effect vocabulary. Fifth, English is relatively gender free. Also, English verbs never have more than five forms and most typically have three. This is in contrast with Latin, which may have up to 120 forms of a verb.

Seventh, spoken English is constantly changing. According to The New York Times ( 1989), it is estimated that 15,000 to 20,000 words per year are added to the language. These words take several forms. Some words are new to the language, like the word nylon, whereas others reflect additional meanings of a word such as bug. Combinations of previously existing words with new meanings are also introduced, such as car jacking.

Finally, the English language is receptive and adaptable to words from other languages. English has not been a pure language since the 5th or 6th century ( Bryson, 1991).

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Introductory Phonetics and Phonology: A Workbook Approach
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Part I - Understanding Phonetics and Phonology 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Basis of Phonetics and Phonology 3
  • Chapter 2 - Anatomical and Physiological Correlates 11
  • Chapter 3 - Vowels 29
  • Chapter 4 - Diphthongs 51
  • Notes *
  • Chapter 5 - Consonants 62
  • Chapter 6 - Single Phoneme and Phonological Development 130
  • Part II - Stress and Theory 139
  • Chapter 7 - Coarticulation 141
  • Notes *
  • Chapter 8 - Syllable Stress 148
  • Notes *
  • Chapter 9 - Narrow Transcription and Factors Influencing Pronunciation 176
  • Chapter 10 - Sentence Stress 203
  • Notes *
  • Chapter 11 - Standards of Pronunciation and Dialects 210
  • Notes *
  • Appendix A - Background of the English Language 217
  • Appendix B - Old English (enʒlisć) 221
  • Appendix C - Middle English (englysshe) 229
  • Appendix D - The Modern Period 236
  • Notes *
  • Appendix E - Aphabets, Writing, Speling, and Dictionaries throughout the Years 240
  • Appendix F - Loanwords 247
  • References 257
  • Index 258
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