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I wonder if more word endings would help the English language?

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raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-17-09 12:00 PM
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I wonder if more word endings would help the English language?

I've always been glad the endings that used to be in vogue in Old English had died out.

Yet I wonder. As a native English speaker, sometimes I have to read something twice to figure out what part of speech a certain word means. It must be really hard for non-native speakers.

Also, the same word, many times, can be different parts of speech depending on how it's used. This also complicates matters.





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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-17-09 07:59 PM
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1. That is typical of languages that don't have many word endings such as English and Chinese
But word endings don't always prevent ambiguity. English examples are -s, -ed, and -ing. "-s" can mark for plurality, possession, and verbs in the singular 3rd person. "-ed" marks for both the past simple tense and the past participle "-ing" marks for both the gerund (verb used as a noun) and the present participle.
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-04-09 10:34 PM
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2. I know the problem of reading and having trouble
figuring out what is meant. We actually use stress patterns and rising or lowering inflections to indicate meanings, which can't come through in the written form.

I'm convinced that English is moving in the direction of becoming a tonal language, because of the subtle differences in pronunciation, by which I generally mean the stress pattern, to fully indicate meaning in the spoken form.

Try this experiment: the green house (the house colored green)
the Green house (family named Green lives there)
the greenhouse (you grow things inside)

Notice you will actually pronounce each phrase slightly differently. I rest my case.
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KatyMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-07-09 10:41 PM
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3. Very Interesting, SheilaT
I've always had a problem conceptualizing what a tonal language is like, but that hit the nail on the head, like a light bulb going off. Thanks!
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-12-09 09:39 PM
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4. Development of tonality is a strong possibility IMO.
But probably not full-blown SE-Asian-type tonality (one tone per syllable), but lexical pitch accent (one tone per word) as found in the Scandinavian languages and Ancient Greek ("lexical" meaning that some words can only be distinguished by differences in pitch accent).
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