English

Learn to Speak English - English Language & Software Overview

Whether you are in an airport in Ankara, a train in Transylvania, a hotel in Honduras, at a restaurant in Togo or at a business meeting in Burma, there is a good chance that you will hear English spoken at some point.

English has become the unofficial language of the world community and the principal language of the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. It is also the official language of many countries in Africa and the Caribbean, and of islands in the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans. And it is considered an “associate official language” of India.

There are, of course, many differences in accent and vocabulary in the many versions of the language, but they are rarely so extreme that people cannot understand one another. A New Zealander can communicate with a Canadian just as well as a Scot can speak with a Kenyan.

The history of English began around the fifth century A.D. when Germanic tribes invaded Britain—then inhabited by Celts and still part of the Roman Empire. The Germanic influence proved so great that there were but few traces of Celtic or Latin left in the language in the main part of the country. Some border areas, however, managed to hold onto their Celtic languages (such as Welsh inCornwall and Wales, and Gaelic in Ireland and the Scottish Highlands).

Then came the Vikings with their Norse language, followed in 1066 by Norman French, which remained the language of the nobility for two centuries after the conquest. This one event had an enormous effect on the language, causing it to almost double in size, as thousands of new words were introduced.

English still has many synonyms that are the result of two languages being used side by side by the Saxon peasants and their Norman masters. The most obvious are the names of meat-producing animals (cow, calf, sheep, swine), which are Germanic, whereas the dishes on the table (beef, veal, mutton, pork) are French.

Despite all of these influences, the heart of the language remained Anglo-Saxon. By the time of Chaucer (14th century), English had emerged as the literary standard and the language of the law and school instruction. Settlers from Britain took their language to America, where it began developing its own personality—sometimes remaining unchanged while British English moved on, sometimes taking an entirely new direction.

Although both are mutually intelligible, there are marked differences between British and American English, not only in accent and vocabulary, but also in grammatical structure and spelling. Here are just a few examples:

 

British English

American English

Comments

I’ve got no money

have no money

got is used as a part of the verb to have

have already eaten

I already ate

The Perfect tense is used more in British English

The theatre in the centre accepts cheques

The theater in the center accepts checks

Different spelling

The bonnet and the boot of the car…

The hood and trunk of the car…

Different vocabulary

Schedule

(/shed-ule/)

Garage

(/garr –idge/)

Schedule

(/sked-ule/)

Garage

(/gar-ahge/)

Different pronunciation

 


  • American Landscape
    American Landscape
    When the first Europeans came to the North America, they found a vast, untamed wilderness: broad forests, wild rivers and wide open spaces. Although much has changed in the last four hundred years, there are still places where one can get an idea of what America must have been like so long ago.
  • New York, New York
    New York, New York
    New York City is the largest city in the United States, and one of its most important cultural and financial centers. New York is divided into five boroughs (districts): Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. Manhattan, situated on an island between the East and Hudson rivers, is the best-known, in part because of its distinctive skyline (seen here) which is dominated by the Empire State Building. This landmark was completed in 1931 and the tallest building in the world until 1954.
  • The Statue of Liberty, New York
    The Statue of Liberty, New York
    The Statue of Liberty, officially called "Liberty Enlightening the World," was a gift to the United States from France. The sculptor Auguste Bartholdi supervised the work, and the steel supports were designed by Gustave Eiffel, who also designed the Eiffel Tower. The statue, which is 151 feet (46 meters) tall, was dedicated in 1886 and stands on an island in New York Harbor.
  • Mardi Gras, New Orleans
    Mardi Gras, New Orleans
    Located near the mouth of the Mississippi River in the state of Louisiana, New Orleans was founded by the French in the early 18th century. The city later passed to Spain, then back to France, and was sold (along with the enormous Louisiana Territory) to the newly-established United States in 1803. Today New Orleans is famous for its Vieux Carré (French Quarter) and the boisterous Mardi Gras celebrations that precede the Lenten season.
  • Wheat Fields in the Midwest
    Wheat Fields in the Midwest
    The vast plains of the American Midwest are ideally suited for agriculture, and during the westward expansion that took place in the 19th century, many settlers began new lives as farmers. Today the Midwest produces most of America's grain, both for export and for domestic consumption.
  • The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
    The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
    The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the opening of the San Francisco Bay into the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of the United States. It has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World and possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed, bridge in the world.

Some general notes on English:

English uses the Latin alphabet with no additional letters.

Pronunciation is often hard to figure out, since the same letter combinations may have wildly different pronunciations.

Nouns in English have no grammatical gender. Unlike its cousin, German, English has no case system.

Verb conjugation is extremely simple in English, with verb tenses and modes generally expressed through helping verbs, rather than through verb endings and stem changes.

Word order follows the model of Subject-Verb-Object.

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