Friday, February 03, 2012

The English Language

by G.Parker

I was sitting in a classroom the other day and happened to overhear a teacher and student discussing some vocabulary words.  He was trying to figure out how to use the word 'steak.'  After a brief conversation, he said, "Oh, so it's like a steak for a piece of wood or a piece of meat."  I'm thinking, "um, stake or steak?"

It's all in the spelling, isn't it?  I'm terrible at spelling.  On a side note -- I love the fact that Google Chrome and Firefox have spell check in their browsers!

That conversation was a clear example of the complexities of the English language.  No wonder those coming from foreign countries have such a hard time learning our language!  It's no surprise that we as writers struggle with finding the right word in trying to convey exact meanings.  I often wonder what it would be like to write in another language - but since I don't know any good enough to do so, it would just be a translation in my head from English anyway.  And that's complicated enough.

I received an email a couple of months ago about English words, and I wanted to include it but alas, I can't find it.  It had all sorts of examples of our word usage in quite a lovely arrangement.  Bit's like, we shower people with affection, and then take a cold shower to cool down.  We plant a garden, and our children work in a plant.  We gum our food and chew gum.  There is their and they're.  A date is both something we go on and something we eat.  We stake a claim and have meetings in a stake center.  There are words for punctuation and words to do with grammar, and we have dictionaries with thesaurus's that if you don't know how to spell the word, how in the heck are you supposed to find it to make sure you're spelling it right?

Well, if you have it figured out, you're way better than I am.  Being able to understand what the word means is at least something.  I may not be able to spell them all, but hopefully I can use them properly when speaking and writing!   And they have proven that the more you read, the larger your vocabulary, so it kind of circles around.  Interesting, huh?

So how are your writing goals coming along?  Are you working at them each day?  I've been doing good on my goal to edit one month and write the next, which has really been progress for me.  You see, consistency is the biggest obstacle any writer has to overcome, other than dealing with words.  I haven't made any time allotment, just commitment to write or edit every day.  It could be a couple of pages, a couple of paragraphs or simply just two lines.  Anything is better than what I was doing before, and at least I'm getting it done.

Let's just hope it doesn't take me the whole year to do it...

Until next week.

1 comment:

Avanija Saket said...

I totally relate to the point made in your post. Being an Indian, I had hard time understanding English in school. Even today, while translating from my mother tongue,Kannada to English it's an uphill task. I mean, English has such a limited vocabulary!

In Indian languages, every relationship has a different word- mother's brother, uncles daughter etc, but I don't find any of the corresponding words for these relations in English. In English, every person of your parents age is either uncle or aunt.

Translation from a vernacular language to English is so difficult that we have started interpolating local words into English! And hence, Indian English seems so different!