By Ronald Wardhaugh
This books explores why it truly is we think what we think approximately language, and why we persist in handing down from iteration to new release a rag bag number of truth and fable approximately language.
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Extra resources for Proper English: Myths and Misunderstandings about Language
The human species has evolved over millions of years and language is a relatively recent phenomenon. The current view is that language is as old as our particular variety of that species; we are what we are because we have language. In this view a change < previous page page_37 next page > < previous page page_38 next page > Page 38 occurred in the brain structure of our ancestors perhaps some 200,000 years ago, a change that rapidly introduced language as we know it into the world. According to Derek Bickerton in Language and Species, before that time there may have been some rudimentary form of communication among the ancestors of those in whom this change occurred.
Why English has no grammar is that it is unencumbered with cases, genders, moods, and tenses and, we may almost say, with grammatical person. " According to White, English did have a grammar once, but it has ceased to have one. These sentiments are not unlike those expressed more recently by Philip Howard in The State of the Language. Howard tells us that English grammar "is becoming progressively simpler," a statement unaccompanied by a single bit of supporting evidence. " Later, he assures us that English is "a largely grammarless language," but as he has already told us that "it is far more difficult for an English person to learn English than, for instance, it is for a Frenchman to learn French or a German to learn German," we must ask ourselves why this should be so if English is lacking in grammar.
The one possible exception is pidgin languages but these are never the first languages of those who use them; they are supplementary languages with very restricted uses. As for the idea that a language may lack the concept of time, the observation means no more than that the people who speak that language do not share the observer's concept of time. Why < previous page page_40 next page > < previous page page_41 next page > Page 41 should they? Anthropologists are also quick to point out that so-called "primitive peoples" have extraordinarily complex cultures.