Talk:English language

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Good articleEnglish language has been listed as one of the Language and literature good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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Current status: Good article

Content moved from the phonology section[edit]

Regional variation in consonants[edit]

There are significant dialectal variations in the pronunciation of several consonants:

  • The th sounds /θ/ and /ð/ are sometimes pronounced as /f/ and /v/ in Cockney, and as dental plosives (contrasting with the usual alveolar plosives) in some dialects of Irish English. In African American Vernacular English, /ð/ has is realized as [d] word initially, and as [v] syllable medially.
  • In North American and Australian English, /t/ and /d/ are pronounced as an alveolar flap [ɾ] in many positions between vowels: thus words like latter and ladder /læɾər/ are pronounced in the same way. This sound change is called intervocalic alveolar flapping, and is a type of rhotacism. /t/ is often pronounced as a glottal stop [ʔ] (t-glottalization, a form of debuccalization) after vowels in British English, as in butter /ˈbʌʔə/, and in other dialects before a nasal, as in button /ˈbʌʔən/.
  • In most dialects, the rhotic consonant /r/ is pronounced as an alveolar, postalveolar, or retroflex approximant [ɹ ɹ̠ ɻ], and often causes vowel changes or is elided (see below), but in Scottish it may be a flap or trill [ɾ r].
  • In some cases, the palatal approximant or semivowel /j/, especially in the diphthong /juː/, is elided or causes consonant changes (yod-dropping and yod-coalescence).
    • Through yod-dropping, historical /j/ in the diphthong /juː/ is lost. In both RP and GA, yod-dropping happens in words like chew /ˈtʃuː/, and frequently in suit /ˈsuːt/, historically /ˈtʃju ˈsjuːt/. In words like tune, dew, new /ˈtjuːn ˈdjuː ˈnjuː/, RP keeps /j/, but GA drops it, so that these words have the vowels of too, do, and noon /ˈtuː ˈduː ˈnuːn/ in GA. A few conservative dialects like Welsh English have less yod-dropping than RP and GA, so that chews and choose /ˈtʃɪuz ˈtʃuːz/ are distinguished, and Norfolk English has more, so that beauty /ˈbjuːti/ is pronounced like booty /ˈbuːti/.
    • Through yod-coalescence, alveolar stops and fricatives /t d s z/ are palatalized and change to postalveolar affricates or fricatives /tʃ dʒ ʃ ʒ/ before historical /j/. In GA and traditional RP, this only happens in unstressed syllables, as in education, nature, and measure /ˌɛd͡ʒʊˈkeɪʃən ˈneɪt͡ʃər ˈmɛʒər/. In other dialects, such as modern RP or Australian, it happens in stressed syllables: thus due and dew are pronounced like Jew /ˈdʒuː/. In colloquial speech, it happens in phrases like did you? /dɪdʒuː/."

Regional variation[edit]

The pronunciation of some vowels varies between dialects:

  • In conservative RP and in GA, the vowel of back is a near-open [æ], but in modern RP and some North American dialects it is open [a]. The vowel of words like bath is /æ/ in GA, but /ɑː/ in RP (trap–bath split). In some dialects, /æ/ sometimes or always changes to a long vowel or diphthong, like [æː] or [eə] (bad–lad split and /æ/ tensing): thus man /mæn/ is pronounced with a diphthong like [meən] in many North American dialects.
  • The RP vowel /ɒ/ corresponds to /ɑ/ (father–bother merger) or /ɔ/ (lot–cloth split) in GA. Thus box is RP /bɒks/ but GA /bɑks/, while cloth is RP /klɒθ/ but GA /klɔθ/. Some North American dialects merge /ɔ/ with /ɑ/, except before /r/ (cot–caught merger).
  • In Scottish, Irish and Northern English, and in some dialects of North American English, the diphthongs /eɪ/ and /əʊ/ (/oʊ/) are pronounced as monophthongs (monophthongization). Thus, day and no are pronounced as /ˈdeɪ ˈnəʊ/ in RP, but as [ˈdeː ˈnoː] or [ˈde ˈno] in other dialects.
  • In North American English, the diphthongs /aɪ aʊ/ sometimes undergo a vowel shift called Canadian raising. This sound change affects the first element of the diphthong, and raises it from open [a], similar to the vowel of bra, to near-open [ʌ], similar to the vowel of but. Thus ice and out [ˈʌɪs ˈʌʊt] are pronounced with different vowels from eyes and loud [ˈaɪz ˈlaʊd]. Raising of /aɪ/ sometimes occurs in GA, but raising of /aʊ/ mainly occurs in Canadian English.

GA and RP vary in their pronunciation of historical /r/ after a vowel at the end of a syllable (in the syllable coda). GA is a rhotic dialect, meaning that it pronounces /r/ at the end of a syllable, but RP is non-rhotic, meaning that it loses /r/ in that position. English dialects are classified as rhotic or non-rhotic depending on whether they elide /r/ like RP or keep it like GA.

In GA, the combination of a vowel and the letter ⟨r⟩ is pronounced as an r-coloured vowel in nurse and butter [ˈnɝs ˈbʌtɚ], and as a vowel and an approximant in car and four [ˈkɑɹ ˈfɔɹ].

In RP, the combination of a vowel and ⟨r⟩ at the end of a syllable is pronounced in various different ways. When stressed, it was once pronounced as a centering diphthong ending in [ə], a sound change known as breaking or diphthongization, but nowadays is usually pronounced as a long vowel (compensatory lengthening). Thus nurse, car, four [ˈnɜːs ˈkɑː ˈfɔː] have long vowels, and car and four have the same vowels as bath and paw [ˈbɑːθ ˈpɔː]. An unstressed ⟨er⟩ is pronounced as a schwa, so that butter ends in the same vowel as comma: [ˈbʌtə ˈkɒmə].

Many vowel shifts only affect vowels before historical /r/, and in most cases they reduce the number of vowels that are distinguished before /r/:

  • Several historically distinct vowels are reduced to /ɜ/ before /r/. In Scottish English, fern, fir, and fur [fɛrn fɪr fʌr] are pronounced differently and have the same vowels as bed, bid, and but, but in GA and RP they are all pronounced with the vowel of bird: /ˈfɝn ˈfɝ/, /ˈfɜːn ˈfɜː/ (fern–fir–fur merger). Similarly, the vowels of hurry and furry /ˈhʌri ˈfɜri/, cure and fir /ˈkjuːr ˈfɜr/ were historically distinct and are still distinct in RP, but are often merged in GA (hurry–furry and cure–fir mergers).
  • Some sets of tense and lax or long and short vowels merge before /r/. Historically, nearer and mirror /ˈniːrər ˈmɪrər/; Mary, marry, and merry /ˈmɛɪɹi ˈmæri ˈmɛri/; hoarse and horse /ˈhoːrs ˈhɔrs/ were pronounced differently and had the same vowels as need and bid; bay, back, and bed; road and paw, but in some dialects their vowels have merged and are pronounced in the same way (mirror–nearer, Mary–marry–merry, and horse–hoarse mergers).
  • In traditional GA and RP, poor /pʊr/ or /pʊə/ is pronounced differently from pour /pɔr/ or /pɔə/ and has the same vowel as good, but for many speakers in North America and southern England, poor is pronounced with the same vowel as pour (poor–pour merger).

England/Great Britain[edit]

It seems silly from my point of view to have a lead for this article that links to Great Britain but not to England. The Angles specifically moved to and settled in the area now known as England (well in fact Anglia), and the reason it is named so is because they settled there and not elsewhere in Great Britain. Furthermore, the rest of Great Britain were not English speaking for several centuries - exactly because the Angles did not go there. Saying that they moved to the Island Great Britain may be technically correct, but it is less precise than saying they moved to England, and borders on being misleading since they only specifically settled in England.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 09:32, 7 February 2018 (UTC)

Actually Anglo-Saxon England included the areas where most of the modern Scottish population lives. Johnbod (talk) 12:04, 13 March 2018 (UTC)
Sure, Berwickshire and East Lothian were part of Anglo-Saxon Bernicia. I don't think this is a good argument for not making the association between Anglo-Saxons, English and England, clear with a link to England instead of Great Britain.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 12:15, 13 March 2018 (UTC)
Well the article begins (inaccurately of course): "English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and is now a global lingua franca. Named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to England, it ultimately derives its name from the Anglia (Angeln) peninsula in the Baltic Sea." I see rather more issues there. Johnbod (talk) 12:24, 13 March 2018 (UTC)
By all means bring them up. Though maybe with a little less gratuitous snarkiness?·maunus · snunɐɯ· 12:53, 13 March 2018 (UTC)
?? I just did. Johnbod (talk) 12:58, 13 March 2018 (UTC)
No you didn't. You just expressed that you found it to be obviously inaccurate with a plurality of issues.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 13:00, 13 March 2018 (UTC)

The version of the lead that passed GA two years ago was like this: "English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and is now a global lingua franca.[4][5] It is an official language of almost 60 sovereign states, the most commonly spoken language in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand, and a widely spoken language in countries in the Caribbean, Africa, and southeast Asia.[6] It is the third most common native language in the world, after Mandarin and Spanish.[7] It is widely learned as a second language and is an official language of the United Nations, of the European Union, and of many other world and regional international organisations.

English has developed over the course of more than 1,400 years. The earliest forms of English, a set of Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers in the fifth century, are called Old English. Middle English began in the late 11th century with the Norman conquest of England.[8] Early Modern English began in the late 15th century with the introduction of the printing press to London and the Great Vowel Shift. Through the worldwide influence of the British Empire, Modern English spread around the world from the 17th to mid-20th centuries. Through newspapers, books, the telegraph, the telephone, phonograph records, radio, satellite television, and the Internet, as well as the emergence of the United States as a global superpower, English has become the leading language of international discourse and the lingua franca in many regions and in professional contexts such as science.

There is little morphological inflection in Modern English, and the syntax is generally isolating. English relies on auxiliary verbs and word order for the expression of complex tenses, aspect and mood, as well as passive constructions, interrogatives and negation. Despite noticeable variation between the forms of English spoken in different world regions, English-speakers from around the world can communicate with one another effectively. Different accents are distinguished only by phonological differences from the standard language, whereas dialects also display grammatical and lexical differences." Since then general lead attrition has taken place as every editor and their grandmother who reads the article thinks they need to add whichever piece of information they personally find to be most imporant without taking into account the whole. I would support a return to that much more pithy version.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 12:59, 13 March 2018 (UTC)

..."one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to England". 'England' did not exist at the time. 'Britain' (or 'what became England') would have been more appropriate in my view. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 143.159.128.101 (talk) 5:08 pm, Today (UTC−4)

I also agree with the above comment there was absolutely no concept of 'England' at that time, the anglo saxons would have seen the land they were moving to as 'Britannia' as in the Roman province. British people still considered themselves somewhat roman until the 500s (the anglo saxon migrations mostly occurred in the mid 400s) the last legions had departed but Honorous had given the British Roman civates (cities) permission to organise their own defence and some form of roman civilisation existed for a while. This was the time of sub-roman Britain when most people on this island would have seen the land as a lost roman province that would be imminently reconquered by the roman central government which ultimately never happened because of the collapse of the west and later the east roman empire. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 88.96.14.189 (talk) 15:16, 28 September 2018 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 23 June 2018[edit]

2A02:C7D:8A2:9D00:55A7:7311:5CC6:BC18 (talk) 22:44, 23 June 2018 (UTC)

2A02:C7D:8A2:9D00:55A7:7311:5CC6:BC18 (talk) 22:44, 23 June 2018 (UTC)
 Not done: it's not clear what changes you want to be made. Please mention the specific changes in a "change X to Y" format and provide a reliable source if appropriate.--QueerFilmNerd (talk) 22:48, 23 June 2018 (UTC)

Phylogenetic tree[edit]

Hello. I may have brought this up several years ago, and please forgive me if a response was given at that time. I have not been back regularly to check. But I have an issue with the Phylogenetic tree on the page. It shows Low German descending from Old Low Franconian, which is an error. Low German is descended from Old Saxon and clusters more closely with Anglo-Frisian than it does with Old Dutch. Otherwise, I like the rest of it. Is there a way we can get this edited or corrected ? Leasnam (talk) 19:32, 17 July 2018 (UTC)

North and south[edit]

Would it make sense to indicate that English is a particular blend of north and south European language elements? -Inowen (nlfte) 01:19, 9 October 2018 (UTC)

No. - BilCat (talk) 01:22, 9 October 2018 (UTC)

External links[edit]

Add the History of English Podcast as an external link. It's an outstanding resource on this topic. --74.110.155.148 (talk) 20:47, 9 November 2018 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 14 November 2018[edit]

Add an audio clip for "Western New England English" to give a wider scope of American accents. Audio clip Democratic New Hampshire Gubernatorial candidate Steve Marchand (from Manchester/ Portsmouth NH) interviewed on WMUR-TV. Lukeszczepiorkowski (talk) 01:28, 14 November 2018 (UTC)

Not done. Lukeszczepiorkowski, see the {{Audio requested}} template for instructions on how to request audio recordings. –Deacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 02:14, 14 November 2018 (UTC)