I was finally able to get a good breakdown of English language roots with the exact percentages. In a previous post I had only guessed at the figures.
According to a 1973 analysis of the shorter (but still 80,000 words) Oxford Dictionary:
28% of English words came from Latin
28% came from French (which is largely Latin)
25% came from elsewhere in the Germanic family
5% came from Greek.
Long story short, more than half of our words (56%) come from the Romance branch and one quarter of our words are more or less from German. Romance and German account for 81% of English words. If we add in the 5% Greek, fully 86% of English words (or almost all of them) come from Romance, German and Greek. Of course the Romance words are all borrowings and only the German words are truly genetically English.
Filed under Balto-Slavic-Germanic, English language, French, German, Germanic, Greek, Hellenic, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Indo-Irano-Armeno-Hellenic, Italic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Linguistics, Romance
We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes; but the plural of ox became oxen not oxes. One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese, yet the plural of moose should never be meese. You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice; yet the plural of house is houses, not hice. If the plural of man is always called men, why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen? If I spoke of my foot and show you my feet, and I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet? If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth, why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?
Then one may be that, and three would be those, yet hat in the plural would never be hose, and the plural of cat is cats, not cose. We speak of a brother and also of brethren, but though we say mother, we never say methren. Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him, but imagine the feminine, she, shis and shim.’
Funny, never read this tidbit.
A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling
by Mark Twain
For example, in Year 1 that useless letter “c” would be dropped to be replased either by “k” or “s,” and likewise “x” would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which “c” would be retained would be the “ch” formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2 might reform “w” spelling, so that “which” and “one” would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish “y” replasing it with “i” and Iear 4 might fiks the “g/j” anomali wonse and for all.
Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez “c,” “y” and “x”–bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez–tu riplais “ch,” “sh,” and “th” rispektivli.
Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.
English has some letters such as c, x and q that make the same sounds as other letters. So why not just get rid of them. Why do we have them in the first place?
This is how I feel about the matter:
U kan tshange the duplikats, of korce. But then kweschuns start to arize y not tshange other duplikats as wel. Bekuz ‘oo’ and ‘u’ sownd cimilar, so y not redus al cimilar-sownding vowels to komon leters? So after a fyu frutles atempts, u wil be left with sumthing that luks liyk this. And that’s not even the end of it! Perhaps we kud remuv al unesesary duplikats altogether and remuv cilent sownds, tu?
What does the phrase “round heels” mean? Here is an example of a sentence using the phrase.
You know what they say about models – a lot of women who do modeling have round heels.
State what the phrase means and the genesis or etiology of the phrase.
John, having seen Jack’s blue bat, painted his bat blue.
Break that sentence into three constituent clauses, and represent each of them as a complete sentence. See you in the comments.
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I definitely could not understand all of that. I think maybe I got ~78%. Sure you can understand a lot of it but definitely not all.
Sounds something like this.
That is from The Canterbury Tales. They were written around 1390, which is about 620 years ago. I do not know about you guys, but my intelligiblity score of Middle English was 5%. I think there might be around 100 words in that sample, not sure. Middle English is quite simply not the same language as Modern English. It’s a different language altogether.
So if languages are split for 600-650 years, they may only have 5% intelligibility. That is if they do not continue to have connections with each other. If they continue to have linguistic connections with each other via speaking together and living in the same vicinity as the other tongue, the score can be a lot higher.
For instance, Scots separated from English ~500 years ago but I can get a lot more of Scots than I can of Chaucer. My intelligibility of Modern Scots is ~40%. But you see, Scots and English continued to be in regular contact. If Scots had taken off to Sweden or someplace like that, the score might be a lot lower. Scots’ continued interaction with English slows the rate of differentiation between tongues.
So after 500-650 years linguistic separation, you should have separate languages, and intelligibility may only be 5-40% (average 22%).
Quite possibly something like this.
How much of that could you understand? Frankly, I found him a bit hard to listen to, but after I decoded his speech somewhat, I could understand him a lot better. I got 91% intelligibility in the first half of the recording, which might be about 300 words.
That is a modern Bristol accent from 1932. Honestly, I found him rather hard to understand. If you listen to it in bits and pieces you understand it better than if you listen to one long flow. Also some words that you don’t understand the first time you get the second time.
The universal language is called “Broken English.”
Well at least we can all communicate now.