Pet Peeves of your native language

There are so many bizarre traits of the English language, but for me the concept of Homographs, Homophones and Homonyms take the cake for me. It must drive English as a second language leaners bonkers!

  • Homographs are words that are spelled alike, but have different meanings and sometimes different pronunciations.
  • Homonyms are words spelled or pronounced alike but different in meaning.
  • Homophones are a type of homonym that also sound alike and have different meanings, but have different spellings.
 
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Sometimes it's a wonder we understand each other at all.

I've decided I dislike the letter 'C'. It's kompletely unnesessary
 

fresh_42

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You have forgotten the Homoinsulae: spell alike, mean alike, and pronounced differently (e.g. either, issue).
 

symbolipoint

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We gain the necessary understanding through the natural language-in-context process. Handling all these confusing things you classified we learn not overnight. ESL people are able to learn similarly. The bigger problem is of the native English speakers not taking care during communication with either other native speakers or with non-native speakers.

Some specific examples would be nice.
 

fresh_42

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The bigger problem is of the native English speakers not taking care during communication
As far as my experiences count, there is a major difference between native Englishmen and native Americans. Europeans are far more used to either be themselves foreigners or have people around, which are not native speakers. The reactions towards people who do not understand the local dialect or have difficulties expressing themselves are accordingly. As said, in my experience. And I am talking about common people, not the educated upper class.
 
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symbolipoint

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I do not know what this means:
he reactions towards people who do not understand the local dialect or have difficulties expressing themselves are accordingly.
Not trying to be humorous; I just do not know what you said there.
 

fresh_42

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When I had difficulties to find the correct words, I have been looked at as mentally handicapped, in the US. When this happened in Great Britain, they just said: don't worry, my German is worse than your English.
And a few other situations which were similar.

You said:
The bigger problem is of the native English speakers not taking care during communication
... and I insisted, that native English is not correct, as the amount of care depends on whether the native English speaker is an American or a British person. The reason that it might be caused by the frequency of meeting foreigners or be one was a hypothesis of mine, which could explain this phenomenon.

But maybe I misinterpreted your "not taking care during communication".
 
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English has acquired umpteen elements of other languages, starting with Pictish, ranging through Greco/Roman, Anglo/Saxon, Skand via the 'Vikings', French via the Normans, Middle-Eastern tongues via the Crusades, a bunch of Romance stuff, Imperial India etc etc etc.

That infamous, oft-misattributed quote:
"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."

And then throw in regional variations best described as 'Huh ?'

D'you wonder 'tis all a tad peculiar ??
😉 😉 😉

ps: Remember the French have an organisation dedicated to ensuring the enduring purity of their language by strictly regulating novelty. But the English embrace such novelty, add it to the 'Oxford English Dictionary'...
 
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Sometimes it's a wonder we understand each other at all.

I've decided I dislike the letter 'C'. It's kompletely unnesessary
I'm not kertain of the kenterpiece of your askertation of obskoleskense, please kite your sourkes. Still I don't want to kertify the keiling of my previously kelebrated enkyklopedik kerebral ability. Perhaps, in future kenturies when we are in the kemetary because of kigarettes, kyklones, kirrosis, or kyanide, other kivilizations will kement new pronunketion and kease to kensure people for sukh korrekt koncepts.
 

fresh_42

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I'm not kertain of the kenterpiece of your askertation of obskoleskense, please kite your sourkes. Still I don't want to kertify the keiling of my previously kelebrated enkyklopedik kerebral ability. Perhaps, in future kenturies when we are in the kemetary because of kigarettes, kyklones, kirrosis, or kyanide, other kivilizations will kement new pronunketion and kease to kensure people for sukh korrekt koncepts.
Maybe we could start and drop the 'k' in front of 'n's. How did they get there? And why?
 
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How did they get there? And why?
If ya'll (there's a necessary addition to english, a plural form of "you", and no I'm not from the south) can find it, Robert MacNeil (of the old MacNeil-Lehrer Report fame) did a series on the history of English that was really good.
 
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@DaveE, I'm sertain a solution kould be found in time.
 

symbolipoint

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When I had difficulties to find the correct words, I have been looked at as mentally handicapped, in the US. When this happened in Great Britain, they just said: don't worry, my German is worse than your English.
And a few other situations which were similar.

You said:

... and I insisted, that native English is not correct, as the amount of care depends on whether the native English speaker is an American or a British person. The reason that it might be caused by the frequency of meeting foreigners or be one was a hypothesis of mine, which could explain this phenomenon.

But maybe I misinterpreted your "not taking care during communication".
Native English-speakers, whether british or american, if reasonably educated, have the choice to use their Standard form/version of English when they speak with or communicate with other people. Too often these native English-speakers use English in a sloppy way and may fail to give some care in how they hear (and sensibly interpret) what others with whom they are speaking with are saying.
 

fresh_42

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and may fail to give some care in how they hear (and sensibly interpret) what others with whom they are speaking with are saying
That is what I said and where my hypothesis comes from: Interpretations are connected to certain expectations. If things are different from normal, people sort things out by a maximal likelihood decision. The number of encounters with foreigners does have an impact on what people consider most likely. Therefore it does make a difference whether people have in mind the possibility of meeting a foreign tourist or not. E.g. I can't walk 500 meters here without meeting a foreigner. This is not the case in Kalamazoo. Hence there is a difference between Europe where you are a foreigner every 500 miles, or the US where (att: rhetorical exaggeration) the only foreign language is Spanish, which automatically induces another set of most-likelies.
 

symbolipoint

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That is what I said and where my hypothesis comes from: Interpretations are connected to certain expectations. If things are different from normal, people sort things out by a maximal likelihood decision. The number of encounters with foreigners does have an impact on what people consider most likely. Therefore it does make a difference whether people have in mind the possibility of meeting a foreign tourist or not. E.g. I can't walk 500 meters here without meeting a foreigner. This is not the case in Kalamazoo. Hence there is a difference between Europe where you are a foreigner every 500 miles, or the US where (att: rhetorical exaggeration) the only foreign language is Spanish, which automatically induces another set of most-likelies.
This part of the discussion can become very complicated. More productive results of our understanding could happen if a linguist member participates.

Maybe not the best example as I would have wanted from when I suggested someone give one; but a certain set of vocabulary in English, can have different interpretations, depending on how the elements are handled in someone else's culture. That set is { cracker, biscuit, cookie }; maybe maybe maybe also include {cake, muffin}.
 
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Maybe we could start and drop the 'k' in front of 'n's. How did they get there? And why?
In Middle English, the k was voiced.
Middle English arose from both the Angles (from what is now Germany) and the Saxons (ditto).
The word "knife,"comes from Old German, then to Old Norse kniffr, then Old English cnif. The word "knight" goes way back to proto-German, then Old English cniht or cneht (boy, youth, servant, et al. but also warrior), then Middle English knight, knyght.

I suspect that a lot of words starting with "kn" such as knave, knot, know, knowledge can be traced back to Old German or before.
 
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There are so many bizarre traits of the English language, but for me the concept of Homographs, Homophones and Homonyms take the cake for me. It must drive English as a second language leaners bonkers!

  • Homographs are words that are spelled alike, but have different meanings and sometimes different pronunciations.
Such as prog' ress (noun) and pro-gress' (verb). Also, "I enjoyed reading about the city of Reading, Berkshire."
"Are you going to read that book?"
"No, I have already read it."
Greg Bernhardt said:
  • Homonyms are words spelled or pronounced alike but different in meaning.
Lead and led/read and red are pairs that are pronounced the same, but differ in meaning.
Greg Bernhardt said:
  • Homophones are a type of homonym that also sound alike and have different meanings, but have different spellings.
  • "I was peeling an orange while the bells were pealing."
 

PeroK

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One thing that is almost universal now is to use "sat" and "stood" instead of "sitting" and "standing".

The other is to confusion over the verbs to "lie" and to "lay". The first is intransitive, as in to "lie down" and the second transitive, as in "to lay down your burden". Their forms should be:

I lie down, I lay down, I have lain down.

I lay down my burden, I laid down my burden, I have laid down my burden.

In fact, when I mentioned this to someone they had never even heard of the word "lain".
 

pinball1970

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One thing that is almost universal now is to use "sat" and "stood" instead of "sitting" and "standing".

The other is to confusion over the verbs to "lie" and to "lay". The first is intransitive, as in to "lie down" and the second transitive, as in "to lay down your burden". Their forms should be:

I lie down, I lay down, I have lain down.

I lay down my burden, I laid down my burden, I have laid down my burden.

In fact, when I mentioned this to someone they had never even heard of the word "lain".
The vast majority of British people would not understand any of that and this includes the educated ones. The only natives who understand English grammar are foreign language students. The reason for this is because we are not taught grammar at school particularly well, same with languages. Latin would help the situation but that subject tends to be reserved for expensive private schools.
 

Bandersnatch

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There are so many bizarre traits of the English language, but for me the concept of Homographs, Homophones and Homonyms take the cake for me.
You'll love this then:
243781

Oh, and one of the nuttier words in English is 'fast'. It's a noun, it's an adjective, it's a verb, it's an adverb. I mean, come on.

By the way, a lot of aspects of the language that native speakers find the hardest to iron out can be a complete non-issue for foreign learners (and vice versa).
 

pinball1970

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When I had difficulties to find the correct words, I have been looked at as mentally handicapped, in the US. When this happened in Great Britain, they just said: don't worry, my German is worse than your English.
And a few other situations which were similar
Yes that is because we recognise we are the dunces of Europe when it comes to language.
 

PeroK

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The vast majority of British people would not understand any of that and this includes the educated ones. The only natives who understand English grammar are foreign language students. The reason for this is because we are not taught grammar at school particularly well, same with languages. Latin would help the situation but that subject tends to be reserved for expensive private schools.
I remember asking a Yorkshireman once why he said "we were sat" but not "we were talked" or "we were watched the TV"?

He was genuinely puzzled and couldn't explain it.
 

pinball1970

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I remember asking a Yorkshireman once why he said "we were sat" but not "we were talked" or "we were watched the TV"?

He was genuinely puzzled and couldn't explain it.
Yes on top of poor grammar nationally you add can local dialect and idiosyncrasies.

In Manchester we say, 'are you coming with us?' when we actually mean 'are you coming with me?'

It actually sounds like, 'yer comin wiv us?'
 

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