English language

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For other uses, see English (disambiguation). English language_sentence_0

English language_table_infobox_0

EnglishEnglish language_header_cell_0_0_0
PronunciationEnglish language_header_cell_0_1_0 /ˈɪŋɡlɪʃ/English language_cell_0_1_1
RegionEnglish language_header_cell_0_2_0 British Isles (originally)
English-speaking worldEnglish language_cell_0_2_1
EthnicityEnglish language_header_cell_0_3_0 Anglo-Saxons (historically)English language_cell_0_3_1
Native speakersEnglish language_header_cell_0_4_0 360–400 million (2006)

L2 speakers: 750 million; as a foreign language: 600–700 millionEnglish language_cell_0_4_1

Language familyEnglish language_header_cell_0_5_0 Indo-EuropeanEnglish language_cell_0_5_1
Early formsEnglish language_header_cell_0_6_0 Old EnglishEnglish language_cell_0_6_1
Writing systemEnglish language_header_cell_0_7_0 English language_cell_0_7_1
Signed formsEnglish language_header_cell_0_8_0 Manually coded English

(multiple systems)English language_cell_0_8_1

Official statusEnglish language_header_cell_0_9_0
Official language inEnglish language_header_cell_0_10_0 Various organisationsEnglish language_cell_0_10_1
Language codesEnglish language_header_cell_0_11_0
ISO 639-1English language_header_cell_0_12_0 English language_cell_0_12_1
ISO 639-2English language_header_cell_0_13_0 English language_cell_0_13_1
ISO 639-3English language_header_cell_0_14_0 English language_cell_0_14_1
GlottologEnglish language_header_cell_0_15_0 English language_cell_0_15_1
LinguasphereEnglish language_header_cell_0_16_0 52-ABAEnglish language_cell_0_16_1

English is a West Germanic language first spoken in early medieval England which eventually became the leading language of international discourse in today's world. English language_sentence_1

It is named after the Angles, one of the ancient Germanic peoples that migrated to the area of Great Britain that later took their name, England. English language_sentence_2

Both names derive from Anglia, a peninsula on the Baltic Sea. English language_sentence_3

English is most closely related to Frisian and Low Saxon, while its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by other Germanic languages, particularly Old Norse (a North Germanic language), as well as Latin and French. English language_sentence_4

English has developed over the course of more than 1,400 years. English language_sentence_5

The earliest forms of English, a group of West Germanic (Ingvaeonic) dialects brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers in the 5th century, are collectively called Old English. English language_sentence_6

Middle English began in the late 11th century with the Norman conquest of England; this was a period in which English was influenced by Old French, in particular through its Old Norman dialect. English language_sentence_7

Early Modern English began in the late 15th century with the introduction of the printing press to London, the printing of the King James Bible and the start of the Great Vowel Shift. English language_sentence_8

Modern English has been spreading around the world since the 17th century by the worldwide influence of the British Empire and the United States. English language_sentence_9

Through all types of printed and electronic media of these countries, English has become the leading language of international discourse and the lingua franca in many regions and professional contexts such as science, navigation and law. English language_sentence_10

Modern English grammar is the result of a gradual change from a typical Indo-European dependent marking pattern, with a rich inflectional morphology and relatively free word order, to a mostly analytic pattern with little inflection, a fairly fixed subject–verb–object word order and a complex syntax. English language_sentence_11

Modern English relies more on auxiliary verbs and word order for the expression of complex tenses, aspect and mood, as well as passive constructions, interrogatives and some negation. English language_sentence_12

English is the largest language by number of speakers, and the third most-spoken native language in the world, after Standard Chinese and Spanish. English language_sentence_13

It is the most widely learned second language and is either the official language or one of the official languages in almost 60 sovereign states. English language_sentence_14

There are more people who have learned it as a second language than there are native speakers. English language_sentence_15

As of 2005, it was estimated that there were over 2 billion speakers of English. English language_sentence_16

English is the majority native language in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, and it is widely spoken in some areas of the Caribbean, Africa and South Asia. English language_sentence_17

It is a co-official language of the United Nations, the European Union and many other world and regional international organisations. English language_sentence_18

It is the most widely spoken Germanic language, accounting for at least 70% of speakers of this Indo-European branch. English language_sentence_19

English speakers are called "Anglophones". English language_sentence_20

Variability among the accents and dialects of English used in different countries and regions—in terms of phonetics and phonology, and sometimes also vocabulary, idioms, grammar, and spelling—does not typically prevent understanding by speakers of other dialects, although mutual unintelligibility can occur at extreme ends of the dialect continuum. English language_sentence_21

Classification English language_section_0

English is an Indo-European language and belongs to the West Germanic group of the Germanic languages. English language_sentence_22

Old English originated from a Germanic tribal and linguistic continuum along the Frisian North Sea coast, whose languages gradually evolved into the Anglic languages in the British Isles, and into the Frisian languages and Low German/Low Saxon on the continent. English language_sentence_23

The Frisian languages, which together with the Anglic languages form the Anglo-Frisian languages, are the closest living relatives of English. English language_sentence_24

Low German/Low Saxon is also closely related, and sometimes English, the Frisian languages, and Low German are grouped together as the Ingvaeonic (North Sea Germanic) languages, though this grouping remains debated. English language_sentence_25

Old English evolved into Middle English, which in turn evolved into Modern English. English language_sentence_26

Particular dialects of Old and Middle English also developed into a number of other Anglic languages, including Scots and the extinct Fingallian and Forth and Bargy (Yola) dialects of Ireland. English language_sentence_27

Like Icelandic and Faroese, the development of English in the British Isles isolated it from the continental Germanic languages and influences. English language_sentence_28

It has since evolved considerably. English language_sentence_29

English is not mutually intelligible with any continental Germanic language, differing in vocabulary, syntax, and phonology, although some of these, such as Dutch or Frisian, do show strong affinities with English, especially with its earlier stages. English language_sentence_30

Unlike Icelandic and Faroese, which were isolated, the development of English was influenced by a long series of invasions of the British Isles by other peoples and languages, particularly Old Norse and Norman French. English language_sentence_31

These left a profound mark of their own on the language, so that English shows some similarities in vocabulary and grammar with many languages outside its linguistic clades—but it is not mutually intelligible with any of those languages either. English language_sentence_32

Some scholars have argued that English can be considered a mixed language or a creole—a theory called the Middle English creole hypothesis. English language_sentence_33

Although the great influence of these languages on the vocabulary and grammar of Modern English is widely acknowledged, most specialists in language contact do not consider English to be a true mixed language. English language_sentence_34

English is classified as a Germanic language because it shares innovations with other Germanic languages such as Dutch, German, and Swedish. English language_sentence_35

These shared innovations show that the languages have descended from a single common ancestor called Proto-Germanic. English language_sentence_36

Some shared features of Germanic languages include the division of verbs into strong and weak classes, the use of modal verbs, and the sound changes affecting Proto-Indo-European consonants, known as Grimm's and Verner's laws. English language_sentence_37

English is classified as an Anglo-Frisian language because Frisian and English share other features, such as the palatalisation of consonants that were velar consonants in Proto-Germanic (see Phonological history of Old English § Palatalization). English language_sentence_38

History English language_section_1

Main article: History of English English language_sentence_39

Proto-Germanic to Old English English language_section_2

Main article: Old English English language_sentence_40

The earliest form of English is called Old English or Anglo-Saxon (c. year 550–1066). English language_sentence_41

Old English developed from a set of West Germanic dialects, often grouped as Anglo-Frisian or North Sea Germanic, and originally spoken along the coasts of Frisia, Lower Saxony and southern Jutland by Germanic peoples known to the historical record as the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. English language_sentence_42

From the 5th century, the Anglo-Saxons settled Britain as the Roman economy and administration collapsed. English language_sentence_43

By the 7th century, the Germanic language of the Anglo-Saxons became dominant in Britain, replacing the languages of Roman Britain (43–409): Common Brittonic, a Celtic language, and Latin, brought to Britain by the Roman occupation. English language_sentence_44

England and English (originally Ænglaland and Ænglisc) are named after the Angles. English language_sentence_45

Old English was divided into four dialects: the Anglian dialects (Mercian and Northumbrian) and the Saxon dialects, Kentish and West Saxon. English language_sentence_46

Through the educational reforms of King Alfred in the 9th century and the influence of the kingdom of Wessex, the West Saxon dialect became the standard written variety. English language_sentence_47

The epic poem Beowulf is written in West Saxon, and the earliest English poem, Cædmon's Hymn, is written in Northumbrian. English language_sentence_48

Modern English developed mainly from Mercian, but the Scots language developed from Northumbrian. English language_sentence_49

A few short inscriptions from the early period of Old English were written using a runic script. English language_sentence_50

By the 6th century, a Latin alphabet was adopted, written with half-uncial letterforms. English language_sentence_51

It included the runic letters wynn ⟨ƿ⟩ and thorn ⟨þ⟩, and the modified Latin letters eth ⟨ð⟩, and ash ⟨æ⟩. English language_sentence_52

Old English is essentially a distinct language from Modern English and is virtually impossible for 21st-century unstudied English-speakers to understand. English language_sentence_53

Its grammar was similar to that of modern German, and its closest relative is Old Frisian. English language_sentence_54

Nouns, adjectives, pronouns, and verbs had many more inflectional endings and forms, and word order was much freer than in Modern English. English language_sentence_55

Modern English has case forms in pronouns (he, him, his) and has a few verb inflections (speak, speaks, speaking, spoke, spoken), but Old English had case endings in nouns as well, and verbs had more person and number endings. English language_sentence_56

The translation of Matthew 8:20 from 1000 shows examples of case endings (nominative plural, accusative plural, genitive singular) and a verb ending (present plural): English language_sentence_57

English language_description_list_0

  • Foxas habbað holu and heofonan fuglas nestEnglish language_item_0_0
  • Fox-as habb-að hol-u and heofon-an fugl-as nest-∅English language_item_0_1
  • fox-NOM.PL have-PRS.PL hole-ACC.PL and heaven-GEN.SG bird-NOM.PL nest-ACC.PLEnglish language_item_0_2
  • "Foxes have holes and the birds of heaven nests"English language_item_0_3

Middle English English language_section_3

Main articles: Middle English and Influence of French on English English language_sentence_58

From the 8th to the 12th century, Old English gradually transformed through language contact into Middle English. English language_sentence_59

Middle English is often arbitrarily defined as beginning with the conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066, but it developed further in the period from 1200 to 1450. English language_sentence_60

First, the waves of Norse colonisation of northern parts of the British Isles in the 8th and 9th centuries put Old English into intense contact with Old Norse, a North Germanic language. English language_sentence_61

Norse influence was strongest in the north-eastern varieties of Old English spoken in the Danelaw area around York, which was the centre of Norse colonisation; today these features are still particularly present in Scots and Northern English. English language_sentence_62

However the centre of norsified English seems to have been in the Midlands around Lindsey, and after 920 CE when Lindsey was reincorporated into the Anglo-Saxon polity, Norse features spread from there into English varieties that had not been in direct contact with Norse speakers. English language_sentence_63

An element of Norse influence that persists in all English varieties today is the group of pronouns beginning with th- (they, them, their) which replaced the Anglo-Saxon pronouns with h- (hie, him, hera). English language_sentence_64

With the Norman conquest of England in 1066, the now norsified Old English language was subject to contact with Old French, in particular with the Old Norman dialect. English language_sentence_65

The Norman language in England eventually developed into Anglo-Norman. English language_sentence_66

Because Norman was spoken primarily by the elites and nobles, while the lower classes continued speaking Anglo-Saxon (English), the main influence of Norman was the introduction of a wide range of loanwords related to politics, legislation and prestigious social domains. English language_sentence_67

Middle English also greatly simplified the inflectional system, probably in order to reconcile Old Norse and Old English, which were inflectionally different but morphologically similar. English language_sentence_68

The distinction between nominative and accusative cases was lost except in personal pronouns, the instrumental case was dropped, and the use of the genitive case was limited to indicating possession. English language_sentence_69

The inflectional system regularised many irregular inflectional forms, and gradually simplified the system of agreement, making word order less flexible. English language_sentence_70

In the Wycliffe Bible of the 1380s, the verse Matthew 8:20 was written: English language_sentence_71

English language_description_list_1

  • Foxis han dennes, and briddis of heuene han nestisEnglish language_item_1_4

Here the plural suffix -n on the verb have is still retained, but none of the case endings on the nouns are present. English language_sentence_72

By the 12th century Middle English was fully developed, integrating both Norse and French features; it continued to be spoken until the transition to early Modern English around 1500. English language_sentence_73

Middle English literature includes Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, and Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. English language_sentence_74

In the Middle English period, the use of regional dialects in writing proliferated, and dialect traits were even used for effect by authors such as Chaucer. English language_sentence_75

Early Modern English English language_section_4

Main article: Early Modern English English language_sentence_76

The next period in the history of English was Early Modern English (1500–1700). English language_sentence_77

Early Modern English was characterised by the Great Vowel Shift (1350–1700), inflectional simplification, and linguistic standardisation. English language_sentence_78

The Great Vowel Shift affected the stressed long vowels of Middle English. English language_sentence_79

It was a chain shift, meaning that each shift triggered a subsequent shift in the vowel system. English language_sentence_80

Mid and open vowels were raised, and close vowels were broken into diphthongs. English language_sentence_81

For example, the word bite was originally pronounced as the word beet is today, and the second vowel in the word about was pronounced as the word boot is today. English language_sentence_82

The Great Vowel Shift explains many irregularities in spelling since English retains many spellings from Middle English, and it also explains why English vowel letters have very different pronunciations from the same letters in other languages. English language_sentence_83

English began to rise in prestige, relative to Norman French, during the reign of Henry V. English language_sentence_84

Around 1430, the Court of Chancery in Westminster began using English in its official documents, and a new standard form of Middle English, known as Chancery Standard, developed from the dialects of London and the East Midlands. English language_sentence_85

In 1476, William Caxton introduced the printing press to England and began publishing the first printed books in London, expanding the influence of this form of English. English language_sentence_86

Literature from the Early Modern period includes the works of William Shakespeare and the translation of the Bible commissioned by King James I. English language_sentence_87

Even after the vowel shift the language still sounded different from Modern English: for example, the consonant clusters /kn ɡn sw/ in knight, gnat, and sword were still pronounced. English language_sentence_88

Many of the grammatical features that a modern reader of Shakespeare might find quaint or archaic represent the distinct characteristics of Early Modern English. English language_sentence_89

In the 1611 King James Version of the Bible, written in Early Modern English, Matthew 8:20 says: English language_sentence_90

English language_description_list_2

  • The Foxes haue holes and the birds of the ayre haue nestsEnglish language_item_2_5

This exemplifies the loss of case and its effects on sentence structure (replacement with subject–verb–object word order, and the use of of instead of the non-possessive genitive), and the introduction of loanwords from French (ayre) and word replacements (bird originally meaning "nestling" had replaced OE fugol). English language_sentence_91

Spread of Modern English English language_section_5

By the late 18th century, the British Empire had spread English through its colonies and geopolitical dominance. English language_sentence_92

Commerce, science and technology, diplomacy, art, and formal education all contributed to English becoming the first truly global language. English language_sentence_93

English also facilitated worldwide international communication. English language_sentence_94

England continued to form new colonies, and these later developed their own norms for speech and writing. English language_sentence_95

English was adopted in parts of North America, parts of Africa, Australasia, and many other regions. English language_sentence_96

When they obtained political independence, some of the newly independent nations that had multiple indigenous languages opted to continue using English as the official language to avoid the political and other difficulties inherent in promoting any one indigenous language above the others. English language_sentence_97

In the 20th century the growing economic and cultural influence of the United States and its status as a superpower following the Second World War has, along with worldwide broadcasting in English by the BBC and other broadcasters, caused the language to spread across the planet much faster. English language_sentence_98

In the 21st century, English is more widely spoken and written than any language has ever been. English language_sentence_99

As Modern English developed, explicit norms for standard usage were published, and spread through official media such as public education and state-sponsored publications. English language_sentence_100

In 1755 Samuel Johnson published his A Dictionary of the English Language which introduced standard spellings of words and usage norms. English language_sentence_101

In 1828, Noah Webster published the American Dictionary of the English language to try to establish a norm for speaking and writing American English that was independent of the British standard. English language_sentence_102

Within Britain, non-standard or lower class dialect features were increasingly stigmatised, leading to the quick spread of the prestige varieties among the middle classes. English language_sentence_103

In modern English, the loss of grammatical case is almost complete (it is now only found in pronouns, such as he and him, she and her, who and whom), and SVO word order is mostly fixed. English language_sentence_104

Some changes, such as the use of do-support have become universalised. English language_sentence_105

(Earlier English did not use the word "do" as a general auxiliary as Modern English does; at first it was only used in question constructions, and even then was not obligatory. English language_sentence_106

Now, do-support with the verb have is becoming increasingly standardised.) English language_sentence_107

The use of progressive forms in -ing, appears to be spreading to new constructions, and forms such as had been being built are becoming more common. English language_sentence_108

Regularisation of irregular forms also slowly continues (e.g. dreamed instead of dreamt), and analytical alternatives to inflectional forms are becoming more common (e.g. more polite instead of politer). English language_sentence_109

British English is also undergoing change under the influence of American English, fuelled by the strong presence of American English in the media and the prestige associated with the US as a world power. English language_sentence_110

Geographical distribution English language_section_6

See also: List of territorial entities where English is an official language, Geographical distribution of English speakers, List of countries by English-speaking population, and English-speaking world English language_sentence_111

As of 2016, 400 million people spoke English as their first language, and 1.1 billion spoke it as a secondary language. English language_sentence_112

English is the largest language by number of speakers. English language_sentence_113

English is spoken by communities on every continent and on islands in all the major oceans. English language_sentence_114

The countries where English is spoken can be grouped into different categories according to how English is used in each country. English language_sentence_115

The "inner circle" countries with many native speakers of English share an international standard of written English and jointly influence speech norms for English around the world. English language_sentence_116

English does not belong to just one country, and it does not belong solely to descendants of English settlers. English language_sentence_117

English is an official language of countries populated by few descendants of native speakers of English. English language_sentence_118

It has also become by far the most important language of international communication when people who share no native language meet anywhere in the world. English language_sentence_119

Three circles of English-speaking countries English language_section_7

Braj Kachru distinguishes countries where English is spoken with a three circles model. English language_sentence_120

In his model, English language_sentence_121

English language_unordered_list_3

  • the "inner circle" countries have large communities of native speakers of English,English language_item_3_6
  • "outer circle" countries have small communities of native speakers of English but widespread use of English as a second language in education or broadcasting or for local official purposes, andEnglish language_item_3_7
  • "expanding circle" countries are countries where many people learn English as a foreign language.English language_item_3_8

Kachru bases his model on the history of how English spread in different countries, how users acquire English, and the range of uses English has in each country. English language_sentence_122

The three circles change membership over time. English language_sentence_123

Countries with large communities of native speakers of English (the inner circle) include Britain, the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand, where the majority speaks English, and South Africa, where a significant minority speaks English. English language_sentence_124

The countries with the most native English speakers are, in descending order, the United States (at least 231 million), the United Kingdom (60 million), Canada (19 million), Australia (at least 17 million), South Africa (4.8 million), Ireland (4.2 million), and New Zealand (3.7 million). English language_sentence_125

In these countries, children of native speakers learn English from their parents, and local people who speak other languages and new immigrants learn English to communicate in their neighbourhoods and workplaces. English language_sentence_126

The inner-circle countries provide the base from which English spreads to other countries in the world. English language_sentence_127

Estimates of the numbers of second language and foreign-language English speakers vary greatly from 470 million to more than 1 billion, depending on how proficiency is defined. English language_sentence_128

Linguist David Crystal estimates that non-native speakers now outnumber native speakers by a ratio of 3 to 1. English language_sentence_129

In Kachru's three-circles model, the "outer circle" countries are countries such as the Philippines, Jamaica, India, Pakistan, Singapore, Malaysia and Nigeria with a much smaller proportion of native speakers of English but much use of English as a second language for education, government, or domestic business, and its routine use for school instruction and official interactions with the government. English language_sentence_130

Those countries have millions of native speakers of dialect continua ranging from an English-based creole to a more standard version of English. English language_sentence_131

They have many more speakers of English who acquire English as they grow up through day-to-day use and listening to broadcasting, especially if they attend schools where English is the medium of instruction. English language_sentence_132

Varieties of English learned by non-native speakers born to English-speaking parents may be influenced, especially in their grammar, by the other languages spoken by those learners. English language_sentence_133

Most of those varieties of English include words little used by native speakers of English in the inner-circle countries, and they may show grammatical and phonological differences from inner-circle varieties as well. English language_sentence_134

The standard English of the inner-circle countries is often taken as a norm for use of English in the outer-circle countries. English language_sentence_135

In the three-circles model, countries such as Poland, China, Brazil, Germany, Japan, Indonesia, Egypt, and other countries where English is taught as a foreign language, make up the "expanding circle". English language_sentence_136

The distinctions between English as a first language, as a second language, and as a foreign language are often debatable and may change in particular countries over time. English language_sentence_137

For example, in the Netherlands and some other countries of Europe, knowledge of English as a second language is nearly universal, with over 80 percent of the population able to use it, and thus English is routinely used to communicate with foreigners and often in higher education. English language_sentence_138

In these countries, although English is not used for government business, its widespread use puts them at the boundary between the "outer circle" and "expanding circle". English language_sentence_139

English is unusual among world languages in how many of its users are not native speakers but speakers of English as a second or foreign language. English language_sentence_140

Many users of English in the expanding circle use it to communicate with other people from the expanding circle, so that interaction with native speakers of English plays no part in their decision to use English. English language_sentence_141

Non-native varieties of English are widely used for international communication, and speakers of one such variety often encounter features of other varieties. English language_sentence_142

Very often today a conversation in English anywhere in the world may include no native speakers of English at all, even while including speakers from several different countries. English language_sentence_143

Pluricentric English English language_section_8

English is a pluricentric language, which means that no one national authority sets the standard for use of the language. English language_sentence_144

But English is not a divided language, despite a long-standing joke originally attributed to George Bernard Shaw that the United Kingdom and the United States are "two countries separated by a common language". English language_sentence_145

Spoken English, for example English used in broadcasting, generally follows national pronunciation standards that are also established by custom rather than by regulation. English language_sentence_146

International broadcasters are usually identifiable as coming from one country rather than another through their accents, but newsreader scripts are also composed largely in international standard written English. English language_sentence_147

The norms of standard written English are maintained purely by the consensus of educated English-speakers around the world, without any oversight by any government or international organisation. English language_sentence_148

American listeners generally readily understand most British broadcasting, and British listeners readily understand most American broadcasting. English language_sentence_149

Most English speakers around the world can understand radio programmes, television programmes, and films from many parts of the English-speaking world. English language_sentence_150

Both standard and non-standard varieties of English can include both formal or informal styles, distinguished by word choice and syntax and use both technical and non-technical registers. English language_sentence_151

The settlement history of the English-speaking inner circle countries outside Britain helped level dialect distinctions and produce koineised forms of English in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. English language_sentence_152

The majority of immigrants to the United States without British ancestry rapidly adopted English after arrival. English language_sentence_153

Now the majority of the United States population are monolingual English speakers, and English has been given official or co-official status by 30 of the 50 state governments, as well as all five territorial governments of the US, though there has never been an official language at the federal level. English language_sentence_154

English as a global language English language_section_9

Main article: English as a lingua franca English language_sentence_155

See also: Foreign language influences in English and Study of global communication English language_sentence_156

English has ceased to be an "English language" in the sense of belonging only to people who are ethnically English. English language_sentence_157

Use of English is growing country-by-country internally and for international communication. English language_sentence_158

Most people learn English for practical rather than ideological reasons. English language_sentence_159

Many speakers of English in Africa have become part of an "Afro-Saxon" language community that unites Africans from different countries. English language_sentence_160

As decolonisation proceeded throughout the British Empire in the 1950s and 1960s, former colonies often did not reject English but rather continued to use it as independent countries setting their own language policies. English language_sentence_161

For example, the view of the English language among many Indians has gone from associating it with colonialism to associating it with economic progress, and English continues to be an official language of India. English language_sentence_162

English is also widely used in media and literature, and the number of English language books published annually in India is the third largest in the world after the US and UK. English language_sentence_163

However English is rarely spoken as a first language, numbering only around a couple hundred-thousand people, and less than 5% of the population speak fluent English in India. English language_sentence_164

David Crystal claimed in 2004 that, combining native and non-native speakers, India now has more people who speak or understand English than any other country in the world, but the number of English speakers in India is very uncertain, with most scholars concluding that the United States still has more speakers of English than India. English language_sentence_165

Modern English, sometimes described as the first global lingua franca, is also regarded as the first world language. English language_sentence_166

English is the world's most widely used language in newspaper publishing, book publishing, international telecommunications, scientific publishing, international trade, mass entertainment, and diplomacy. English language_sentence_167

English is, by international treaty, the basis for the required controlled natural languages Seaspeak and Airspeak, used as international languages of seafaring and aviation. English language_sentence_168

English used to have parity with French and German in scientific research, but now it dominates that field. English language_sentence_169

It achieved parity with French as a language of diplomacy at the Treaty of Versailles negotiations in 1919. English language_sentence_170

By the time of the foundation of the United Nations at the end of World War II, English had become pre-eminent and is now the main worldwide language of diplomacy and international relations. English language_sentence_171

It is one of six official languages of the United Nations. English language_sentence_172

Many other worldwide international organisations, including the International Olympic Committee, specify English as a working language or official language of the organisation. English language_sentence_173

Many regional international organisations such as the European Free Trade Association, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) set English as their organisation's sole working language even though most members are not countries with a majority of native English speakers. English language_sentence_174

While the European Union (EU) allows member states to designate any of the national languages as an official language of the Union, in practice English is the main working language of EU organisations. English language_sentence_175

Although in most countries English is not an official language, it is currently the language most often taught as a foreign language. English language_sentence_176

In the countries of the EU, English is the most widely spoken foreign language in nineteen of the twenty-five member states where it is not an official language (that is, the countries other than Ireland and Malta). English language_sentence_177

In a 2012 official Eurobarometer poll (conducted when the UK was still a member of the EU), 38 percent of the EU respondents outside the countries where English is an official language said they could speak English well enough to have a conversation in that language. English language_sentence_178

The next most commonly mentioned foreign language, French (which is the most widely known foreign language in the UK and Ireland), could be used in conversation by 12 percent of respondents. English language_sentence_179

A working knowledge of English has become a requirement in a number of occupations and professions such as medicine and computing. English language_sentence_180

English has become so important in scientific publishing that more than 80 percent of all scientific journal articles indexed by Chemical Abstracts in 1998 were written in English, as were 90 percent of all articles in natural science publications by 1996 and 82 percent of articles in humanities publications by 1995. English language_sentence_181

International communities such as international business people may use English as an auxiliary language, with an emphasis on vocabulary suitable for their domain of interest. English language_sentence_182

This has led some scholars to develop the study of English as an auxiliary language. English language_sentence_183

The trademarked Globish uses a relatively small subset of English vocabulary (about 1500 words, designed to represent the highest use in international business English) in combination with the standard English grammar. English language_sentence_184

Other examples include Simple English. English language_sentence_185

The increased use of the English language globally has had an effect on other languages, leading to some English words being assimilated into the vocabularies of other languages. English language_sentence_186

This influence of English has led to concerns about language death, and to claims of linguistic imperialism, and has provoked resistance to the spread of English; however the number of speakers continues to increase because many people around the world think that English provides them with opportunities for better employment and improved lives. English language_sentence_187

Although some scholars mention a possibility of future divergence of English dialects into mutually unintelligible languages, most think a more likely outcome is that English will continue to function as a koineised language in which the standard form unifies speakers from around the world. English language_sentence_188

English is used as the language for wider communication in countries around the world. English language_sentence_189

Thus English has grown in worldwide use much more than any constructed language proposed as an international auxiliary language, including Esperanto. English language_sentence_190

Phonology English language_section_10

Main article: English phonology English language_sentence_191

The phonetics and phonology of the English language differ from one dialect to another, usually without interfering with mutual communication. English language_sentence_192

Phonological variation affects the inventory of phonemes (i.e. speech sounds that distinguish meaning), and phonetic variation consists in differences in pronunciation of the phonemes. English language_sentence_193

This overview mainly describes the standard pronunciations of the United Kingdom and the United States: Received Pronunciation (RP) and General American (GA). English language_sentence_194

(See § Dialects, accents, and varieties, below.) English language_sentence_195

The phonetic symbols used below are from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). English language_sentence_196

Consonants English language_section_11

Main article: English phonology § Consonants English language_sentence_197

Most English dialects share the same 24 consonant phonemes. English language_sentence_198

The consonant inventory shown below is valid for California English, and for RP. English language_sentence_199

English language_table_general_1

Consonant phonemesEnglish language_table_caption_1
English language_header_cell_1_0_0 LabialEnglish language_header_cell_1_0_1 DentalEnglish language_header_cell_1_0_3 AlveolarEnglish language_header_cell_1_0_5 Post- alveolarEnglish language_header_cell_1_0_7 PalatalEnglish language_header_cell_1_0_9 VelarEnglish language_header_cell_1_0_11 GlottalEnglish language_header_cell_1_0_13
NasalEnglish language_header_cell_1_1_0 English language_cell_1_1_1 mEnglish language_cell_1_1_2 English language_cell_1_1_3 English language_cell_1_1_5 nEnglish language_cell_1_1_6 English language_cell_1_1_7 English language_cell_1_1_9 English language_cell_1_1_11 ŋEnglish language_cell_1_1_12 English language_cell_1_1_13
StopEnglish language_header_cell_1_2_0 pEnglish language_cell_1_2_1 bEnglish language_cell_1_2_2 English language_cell_1_2_3 tEnglish language_cell_1_2_5 dEnglish language_cell_1_2_6 English language_cell_1_2_7 English language_cell_1_2_8 English language_cell_1_2_9 kEnglish language_cell_1_2_11 ɡEnglish language_cell_1_2_12 English language_cell_1_2_13
AffricateEnglish language_header_cell_1_3_0 English language_cell_1_3_1 English language_cell_1_3_2 English language_cell_1_3_3 English language_cell_1_3_5 English language_cell_1_3_6 English language_cell_1_3_7 English language_cell_1_3_8 English language_cell_1_3_9 English language_cell_1_3_11 English language_cell_1_3_12 English language_cell_1_3_13
FricativeEnglish language_header_cell_1_4_0 fEnglish language_cell_1_4_1 vEnglish language_cell_1_4_2 θEnglish language_cell_1_4_3 ðEnglish language_cell_1_4_4 sEnglish language_cell_1_4_5 zEnglish language_cell_1_4_6 ʃEnglish language_cell_1_4_7 ʒEnglish language_cell_1_4_8 English language_cell_1_4_9 English language_cell_1_4_11 hEnglish language_cell_1_4_13 English language_cell_1_4_14
ApproximantEnglish language_header_cell_1_5_0 English language_cell_1_5_1 English language_cell_1_5_3 English language_cell_1_5_5 lEnglish language_cell_1_5_6 English language_cell_1_5_7 ɹ*English language_cell_1_5_8 English language_cell_1_5_9 jEnglish language_cell_1_5_10 English language_cell_1_5_11 wEnglish language_cell_1_5_12 English language_cell_1_5_13
  • Conventionally transcribed /r/ English language_sentence_200

In the table, when obstruents (stops, affricates, and fricatives) appear in pairs, such as /p b/, /tʃ dʒ/, and /s z/, the first is fortis (strong) and the second is lenis (weak). English language_sentence_201

Fortis obstruents, such as /p tʃ s/ are pronounced with more muscular tension and breath force than lenis consonants, such as /b dʒ z/, and are always voiceless. English language_sentence_202

Lenis consonants are partly voiced at the beginning and end of utterances, and fully voiced between vowels. English language_sentence_203

Fortis stops such as /p/ have additional articulatory or acoustic features in most dialects: they are aspirated [pʰ] when they occur alone at the beginning of a stressed syllable, often unaspirated in other cases, and often unreleased [p̚] or pre-glottalised [ʔp] at the end of a syllable. English language_sentence_204

In a single-syllable word, a vowel before a fortis stop is shortened: thus nip has a noticeably shorter vowel (phonetically, but not phonemically) than nib [nɪˑb̥] (see below). English language_sentence_205

English language_unordered_list_4

  • lenis stops: bin [b̥ɪˑn], about [əˈbaʊt], nib [nɪˑb̥]English language_item_4_9
  • fortis stops: pin [pʰɪn]; spin [spɪn]; happy [ˈhæpi]; nip [nɪp̚] or [nɪʔp]English language_item_4_10

In RP, the lateral approximant /l/, has two main allophones (pronunciation variants): the clear or plain [l], as in light, and the dark or velarised [ɫ], as in full. English language_sentence_206

GA has dark l in most cases. English language_sentence_207

English language_unordered_list_5

  • clear l: RP light [laɪt]English language_item_5_11
  • dark l: RP and GA full [fʊɫ], GA light [ɫaɪt]English language_item_5_12

All sonorants (liquids /l, r/ and nasals /m, n, ŋ/) devoice when following a voiceless obstruent, and they are syllabic when following a consonant at the end of a word. English language_sentence_208

English language_unordered_list_6

  • voiceless sonorants: clay [kl̥eɪ̯]; snow RP [sn̥əʊ̯], GA [sn̥oʊ̯]English language_item_6_13
  • syllabic sonorants: paddle [ˈpad.l̩], button [ˈbʌt.n̩]English language_item_6_14

Vowels English language_section_12

Main article: English phonology § Vowels English language_sentence_209

The pronunciation of vowels varies a great deal between dialects and is one of the most detectable aspects of a speaker's accent. English language_sentence_210

The table below lists the vowel phonemes in Received Pronunciation (RP) and General American (GA), with examples of words in which they occur from lexical sets compiled by linguists. English language_sentence_211

The vowels are represented with symbols from the International Phonetic Alphabet; those given for RP are standard in British dictionaries and other publications. English language_sentence_212

English language_table_general_2

MonophthongsEnglish language_table_caption_2
RPEnglish language_header_cell_2_0_0 GAEnglish language_header_cell_2_0_1 WordEnglish language_header_cell_2_0_2
English language_cell_2_1_0 iEnglish language_cell_2_1_1 needEnglish language_cell_2_1_2
ɪEnglish language_cell_2_2_0 bidEnglish language_cell_2_2_2
eEnglish language_cell_2_3_0 ɛEnglish language_cell_2_3_1 bedEnglish language_cell_2_3_2
æEnglish language_cell_2_4_0 backEnglish language_cell_2_4_2
ɑːEnglish language_cell_2_5_0 ɑEnglish language_cell_2_5_1 braEnglish language_cell_2_5_2
ɒEnglish language_cell_2_6_0 boxEnglish language_cell_2_6_1
ɔ, ɑEnglish language_cell_2_7_0 clothEnglish language_cell_2_7_1
ɔːEnglish language_cell_2_8_0 pawEnglish language_cell_2_8_1
English language_cell_2_9_0 uEnglish language_cell_2_9_1 foodEnglish language_cell_2_9_2
ʊEnglish language_cell_2_10_0 goodEnglish language_cell_2_10_2
ʌEnglish language_cell_2_11_0 butEnglish language_cell_2_11_2
ɜːEnglish language_cell_2_12_0 ɜɹEnglish language_cell_2_12_1 birdEnglish language_cell_2_12_2
əEnglish language_cell_2_13_0 commaEnglish language_cell_2_13_2

In RP, vowel length is phonemic; long vowels are marked with a triangular colon ⟨ː⟩ in the table above, such as the vowel of need [niːd] as opposed to bid [bɪd]. English language_sentence_213

In GA, vowel length is non-distinctive. English language_sentence_214

In both RP and GA, vowels are phonetically shortened before fortis consonants in the same syllable, like /t tʃ f/, but not before lenis consonants like /d dʒ v/ or in open syllables: thus, the vowels of rich [rɪtʃ], neat [nit], and safe [seɪ̯f] are noticeably shorter than the vowels of ridge [rɪˑdʒ], need [niˑd], and save [seˑɪ̯v], and the vowel of light [laɪ̯t] is shorter than that of lie [laˑɪ̯]. English language_sentence_215

Because lenis consonants are frequently voiceless at the end of a syllable, vowel length is an important cue as to whether the following consonant is lenis or fortis. English language_sentence_216

The vowel /ə/ only occurs in unstressed syllables and is more open in quality in stem-final positions. English language_sentence_217

Some dialects do not contrast /ɪ/ and /ə/ in unstressed positions, so that rabbit and abbot rhyme and Lenin and Lennon are homophonous, a dialect feature called weak vowel merger. English language_sentence_218

GA /ɜr/ and /ər/ are realised as an r-coloured vowel [ɚ], as in further [ˈfɚðɚ] (phonemically /ˈfɜrðər/), which in RP is realised as [ˈfəːðə] (phonemically /ˈfɜːðə/). English language_sentence_219

Phonotactics English language_section_13

An English syllable includes a syllable nucleus consisting of a vowel sound. English language_sentence_220

Syllable onset and coda (start and end) are optional. English language_sentence_221

A syllable can start with up to three consonant sounds, as in sprint /sprɪnt/, and end with up to four, as in texts /teksts/. English language_sentence_222

This gives an English syllable the following structure, (CCC)V(CCCC) where C represents a consonant and V a vowel; the word strengths /strɛŋkθs/ is thus an example of the most complex syllable possible in English. English language_sentence_223

The consonants that may appear together in onsets or codas are restricted, as is the order in which they may appear. English language_sentence_224

Onsets can only have four types of consonant clusters: a stop and approximant, as in play; a voiceless fricative and approximant, as in fly or sly; s and a voiceless stop, as in stay; and s, a voiceless stop, and an approximant, as in string. English language_sentence_225

Clusters of nasal and stop are only allowed in codas. English language_sentence_226

Clusters of obstruents always agree in voicing, and clusters of sibilants and of plosives with the same point of articulation are prohibited. English language_sentence_227

Furthermore, several consonants have limited distributions: /h/ can only occur in syllable-initial position, and /ŋ/ only in syllable-final position. English language_sentence_228

Stress, rhythm and intonation English language_section_14

See also: Stress and vowel reduction in English and Intonation in English English language_sentence_229

Stress plays an important role in English. English language_sentence_230

Certain syllables are stressed, while others are unstressed. English language_sentence_231

Stress is a combination of duration, intensity, vowel quality, and sometimes changes in pitch. English language_sentence_232

Stressed syllables are pronounced longer and louder than unstressed syllables, and vowels in unstressed syllables are frequently reduced while vowels in stressed syllables are not. English language_sentence_233

Some words, primarily short function words but also some modal verbs such as can, have weak and strong forms depending on whether they occur in stressed or non-stressed position within a sentence. English language_sentence_234

Stress in English is phonemic, and some pairs of words are distinguished by stress. English language_sentence_235

For instance, the word contract is stressed on the first syllable (/ˈkɒntrækt/ KON-trakt) when used as a noun, but on the last syllable (/kənˈtrækt/ kən-TRAKT) for most meanings (for example, "reduce in size") when used as a verb. English language_sentence_236

Here stress is connected to vowel reduction: in the noun "contract" the first syllable is stressed and has the unreduced vowel /ɒ/, but in the verb "contract" the first syllable is unstressed and its vowel is reduced to /ə/. English language_sentence_237

Stress is also used to distinguish between words and phrases, so that a compound word receives a single stress unit, but the corresponding phrase has two: e.g. a burnout (/ˈbɜːrnaʊt/) versus to burn out (/ˈbɜːrn ˈaʊt/), and a hotdog (/ˈhɒtdɒɡ/) versus a hot dog (/ˈhɒt ˈdɒɡ/). English language_sentence_238

In terms of rhythm, English is generally described as a stress-timed language, meaning that the amount of time between stressed syllables tends to be equal. English language_sentence_239

Stressed syllables are pronounced longer, but unstressed syllables (syllables between stresses) are shortened. English language_sentence_240

Vowels in unstressed syllables are shortened as well, and vowel shortening causes changes in vowel quality: vowel reduction. English language_sentence_241

Regional variation English language_section_15

English language_table_general_3

Varieties of Standard English and their featuresEnglish language_table_caption_3
Phonological

featuresEnglish language_header_cell_3_0_0

United StatesEnglish language_header_cell_3_0_1 CanadaEnglish language_header_cell_3_0_2 Republic of IrelandEnglish language_header_cell_3_0_3 Northern IrelandEnglish language_header_cell_3_0_4 ScotlandEnglish language_header_cell_3_0_5 EnglandEnglish language_header_cell_3_0_6 WalesEnglish language_header_cell_3_0_7 South AfricaEnglish language_header_cell_3_0_8 AustraliaEnglish language_header_cell_3_0_9 New ZealandEnglish language_header_cell_3_0_10
father–bother mergerEnglish language_header_cell_3_1_0 yesEnglish language_cell_3_1_1 yesEnglish language_cell_3_1_2 English language_cell_3_1_3 English language_cell_3_1_4 English language_cell_3_1_5 English language_cell_3_1_6 English language_cell_3_1_7 English language_cell_3_1_8 English language_cell_3_1_9 English language_cell_3_1_10
/ɒ/ is unroundedEnglish language_header_cell_3_2_0 yesEnglish language_cell_3_2_1 yesEnglish language_cell_3_2_2 yesEnglish language_cell_3_2_3 English language_cell_3_2_4 English language_cell_3_2_5 English language_cell_3_2_6 English language_cell_3_2_7 English language_cell_3_2_8 English language_cell_3_2_9 English language_cell_3_2_10
/ɜːr/ is pronounced [ɚ]English language_header_cell_3_3_0 yesEnglish language_cell_3_3_1 yesEnglish language_cell_3_3_2 yesEnglish language_cell_3_3_3 yesEnglish language_cell_3_3_4 English language_cell_3_3_5 English language_cell_3_3_6 English language_cell_3_3_7 English language_cell_3_3_8 English language_cell_3_3_9 English language_cell_3_3_10
cot–caught mergerEnglish language_header_cell_3_4_0 possiblyEnglish language_cell_3_4_1 yesEnglish language_cell_3_4_2 possiblyEnglish language_cell_3_4_3 yesEnglish language_cell_3_4_4 yesEnglish language_cell_3_4_5 English language_cell_3_4_6 English language_cell_3_4_7 English language_cell_3_4_8 English language_cell_3_4_9 English language_cell_3_4_10
fool–full mergerEnglish language_header_cell_3_5_0 English language_cell_3_5_1 English language_cell_3_5_2 English language_cell_3_5_3 yesEnglish language_cell_3_5_4 yesEnglish language_cell_3_5_5 English language_cell_3_5_6 English language_cell_3_5_7 English language_cell_3_5_8 English language_cell_3_5_9 English language_cell_3_5_10
/t, d/ flappingEnglish language_header_cell_3_6_0 yesEnglish language_cell_3_6_1 yesEnglish language_cell_3_6_2 possiblyEnglish language_cell_3_6_3 oftenEnglish language_cell_3_6_4 rarelyEnglish language_cell_3_6_5 rarelyEnglish language_cell_3_6_6 rarelyEnglish language_cell_3_6_7 rarelyEnglish language_cell_3_6_8 yesEnglish language_cell_3_6_9 oftenEnglish language_cell_3_6_10
trap–bath splitEnglish language_header_cell_3_7_0 English language_cell_3_7_1 English language_cell_3_7_2 possiblyEnglish language_cell_3_7_3 possiblyEnglish language_cell_3_7_4 English language_cell_3_7_5 oftenEnglish language_cell_3_7_6 yesEnglish language_cell_3_7_7 yesEnglish language_cell_3_7_8 oftenEnglish language_cell_3_7_9 yesEnglish language_cell_3_7_10
non-rhotic (/r/-dropping after vowels)English language_header_cell_3_8_0 English language_cell_3_8_1 English language_cell_3_8_2 English language_cell_3_8_3 English language_cell_3_8_4 English language_cell_3_8_5 yesEnglish language_cell_3_8_6 yesEnglish language_cell_3_8_7 yesEnglish language_cell_3_8_8 yesEnglish language_cell_3_8_9 yesEnglish language_cell_3_8_10
close vowels for /æ, ɛ/English language_header_cell_3_9_0 English language_cell_3_9_1 English language_cell_3_9_2 English language_cell_3_9_3 English language_cell_3_9_4 English language_cell_3_9_5 English language_cell_3_9_6 English language_cell_3_9_7 yesEnglish language_cell_3_9_8 yesEnglish language_cell_3_9_9 yesEnglish language_cell_3_9_10
/l/ can always be pronounced [ɫ]English language_header_cell_3_10_0 yesEnglish language_cell_3_10_1 yesEnglish language_cell_3_10_2 English language_cell_3_10_3 yesEnglish language_cell_3_10_4 yesEnglish language_cell_3_10_5 English language_cell_3_10_6 English language_cell_3_10_7 English language_cell_3_10_8 yesEnglish language_cell_3_10_9 yesEnglish language_cell_3_10_10
/ɑːr/ is frontedEnglish language_header_cell_3_11_0 English language_cell_3_11_1 possiblyEnglish language_cell_3_11_2 possiblyEnglish language_cell_3_11_3 English language_cell_3_11_4 English language_cell_3_11_5 English language_cell_3_11_6 English language_cell_3_11_7 English language_cell_3_11_8 yesEnglish language_cell_3_11_9 yesEnglish language_cell_3_11_10

English language_table_general_4

Dialects and low vowelsEnglish language_table_caption_4
Lexical setEnglish language_header_cell_4_0_0 RPEnglish language_header_cell_4_0_1 GAEnglish language_header_cell_4_0_2 CanEnglish language_header_cell_4_0_3 Sound changeEnglish language_header_cell_4_0_4
THOUGHTEnglish language_header_cell_4_1_0 /ɔː/English language_cell_4_1_1 /ɔ/ or /ɑ/English language_cell_4_1_2 /ɑ/English language_cell_4_1_3 cot–caught mergerEnglish language_cell_4_1_4
CLOTHEnglish language_header_cell_4_2_0 /ɒ/English language_cell_4_2_1 lot–cloth splitEnglish language_cell_4_2_2
LOTEnglish language_header_cell_4_3_0 /ɑ/English language_cell_4_3_1 father–bother mergerEnglish language_cell_4_3_2
PALMEnglish language_header_cell_4_4_0 /ɑː/English language_cell_4_4_1
BATHEnglish language_header_cell_4_5_0 /æ/English language_cell_4_5_1 /æ/English language_cell_4_5_2 trap–bath splitEnglish language_cell_4_5_3
TRAPEnglish language_header_cell_4_6_0 /æ/English language_cell_4_6_1

Varieties of English vary the most in pronunciation of vowels. English language_sentence_242

The best known national varieties used as standards for education in non-English-speaking countries are British (BrE) and American (AmE). English language_sentence_243

Countries such as Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa have their own standard varieties which are less often used as standards for education internationally. English language_sentence_244

Some differences between the various dialects are shown in the table "Varieties of Standard English and their features". English language_sentence_245

English has undergone many historical sound changes, some of them affecting all varieties, and others affecting only a few. English language_sentence_246

Most standard varieties are affected by the Great Vowel Shift, which changed the pronunciation of long vowels, but a few dialects have slightly different results. English language_sentence_247

In North America, a number of chain shifts such as the Northern Cities Vowel Shift and Canadian Shift have produced very different vowel landscapes in some regional accents. English language_sentence_248

Some dialects have fewer or more consonant phonemes and phones than the standard varieties. English language_sentence_249

Some conservative varieties like Scottish English have a voiceless ʍ sound in whine that contrasts with the voiced [w] in wine, but most other dialects pronounce both words with voiced [w], a dialect feature called wine–whine merger. English language_sentence_250

The unvoiced velar fricative sound /x/ is found in Scottish English, which distinguishes loch /lɔx/ from lock /lɔk/. English language_sentence_251

Accents like Cockney with "h-dropping" lack the glottal fricative /h/, and dialects with th-stopping and th-fronting like African American Vernacular and Estuary English do not have the dental fricatives /θ, ð/, but replace them with dental or alveolar stops /t, d/ or labiodental fricatives /f, v/. English language_sentence_252

Other changes affecting the phonology of local varieties are processes such as yod-dropping, yod-coalescence, and reduction of consonant clusters. English language_sentence_253

General American and Received Pronunciation vary in their pronunciation of historical /r/ after a vowel at the end of a syllable (in the syllable coda). English language_sentence_254

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 language_sentence_255

English dialects are classified as rhotic or non-rhotic depending on whether they elide /r/ like RP or keep it like GA. English language_sentence_256

There is complex dialectal variation in words with the open front and open back vowels /æ ɑː ɒ ɔː/. English language_sentence_257

These four vowels are only distinguished in RP, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. English language_sentence_258

In GA, these vowels merge to three /æ ɑ ɔ/, and in Canadian English, they merge to two /æ ɑ/. English language_sentence_259

In addition, the words that have each vowel vary by dialect. English language_sentence_260

The table "Dialects and open vowels" shows this variation with lexical sets in which these sounds occur. English language_sentence_261

Grammar English language_section_16

As is typical of an Indo-European language, English follows accusative morphosyntactic alignment. English language_sentence_262

Unlike other Indo-European languages though, English has largely abandoned the inflectional case system in favor of analytic constructions. English language_sentence_263

Only the personal pronouns retain morphological case more strongly than any other word class. English language_sentence_264

English distinguishes at least seven major word classes: verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, determiners (including articles), prepositions, and conjunctions. English language_sentence_265

Some analyses add pronouns as a class separate from nouns, and subdivide conjunctions into subordinators and coordinators, and add the class of interjections. English language_sentence_266

English also has a rich set of auxiliary verbs, such as have and do, expressing the categories of mood and aspect. English language_sentence_267

Questions are marked by do-support, wh-movement (fronting of question words beginning with wh-) and word order inversion with some verbs. English language_sentence_268

Some traits typical of Germanic languages persist in English, such as the distinction between irregularly inflected strong stems inflected through ablaut (i.e. changing the vowel of the stem, as in the pairs speak/spoke and foot/feet) and weak stems inflected through affixation (such as love/loved, hand/hands). English language_sentence_269

Vestiges of the case and gender system are found in the pronoun system (he/him, who/whom) and in the inflection of the copula verb to be. English language_sentence_270

The seven-word classes are exemplified in this sample sentence: English language_sentence_271

Nouns and noun phrases English language_section_17

English nouns are only inflected for number and possession. English language_sentence_272

New nouns can be formed through derivation or compounding. English language_sentence_273

They are semantically divided into proper nouns (names) and common nouns. English language_sentence_274

Common nouns are in turn divided into concrete and abstract nouns, and grammatically into count nouns and mass nouns. English language_sentence_275

Most count nouns are inflected for plural number through the use of the plural suffix -s, but a few nouns have irregular plural forms. English language_sentence_276

Mass nouns can only be pluralised through the use of a count noun classifier, e.g. one loaf of bread, two loaves of bread. English language_sentence_277

Regular plural formation: English language_sentence_278

English language_description_list_7

  • Singular: cat, dogEnglish language_item_7_15
  • Plural: cats, dogsEnglish language_item_7_16

Irregular plural formation: English language_sentence_279

English language_description_list_8

  • Singular: man, woman, foot, fish, ox, knife, mouseEnglish language_item_8_17
  • Plural: men, women, feet, fish, oxen, knives, miceEnglish language_item_8_18

Possession can be expressed either by the possessive enclitic -s (also traditionally called a genitive suffix), or by the preposition of. English language_sentence_280

Historically the -s possessive has been used for animate nouns, whereas the of possessive has been reserved for inanimate nouns. English language_sentence_281

Today this distinction is less clear, and many speakers use -s also with inanimates. English language_sentence_282

Orthographically the possessive -s is separated from the noun root with an apostrophe. English language_sentence_283

Possessive constructions: English language_sentence_284

English language_description_list_9

  • With -s: The woman's husband's childEnglish language_item_9_19
  • With of: The child of the husband of the womanEnglish language_item_9_20

Nouns can form noun phrases (NPs) where they are the syntactic head of the words that depend on them such as determiners, quantifiers, conjunctions or adjectives. English language_sentence_285

Noun phrases can be short, such as the man, composed only of a determiner and a noun. English language_sentence_286

They can also include modifiers such as adjectives (e.g. red, tall, all) and specifiers such as determiners (e.g. the, that). English language_sentence_287

But they can also tie together several nouns into a single long NP, using conjunctions such as and, or prepositions such as with, e.g. the tall man with the long red trousers and his skinny wife with the spectacles (this NP uses conjunctions, prepositions, specifiers, and modifiers). English language_sentence_288

Regardless of length, an NP functions as a syntactic unit. English language_sentence_289

For example, the possessive enclitic can, in cases which do not lead to ambiguity, follow the entire noun phrase, as in The President of India's wife, where the enclitic follows India and not President. English language_sentence_290

The class of determiners is used to specify the noun they precede in terms of definiteness, where the marks a definite noun and a or an an indefinite one. English language_sentence_291

A definite noun is assumed by the speaker to be already known by the interlocutor, whereas an indefinite noun is not specified as being previously known. English language_sentence_292

Quantifiers, which include one, many, some and all, are used to specify the noun in terms of quantity or number. English language_sentence_293

The noun must agree with the number of the determiner, e.g. one man (sg.) English language_sentence_294

but all men (pl.). English language_sentence_295

Determiners are the first constituents in a noun phrase. English language_sentence_296

Adjectives English language_section_18

Adjectives modify a noun by providing additional information about their referents. English language_sentence_297

In English, adjectives come before the nouns they modify and after determiners. English language_sentence_298

In Modern English, adjectives are not inflected, and they do not agree in form with the noun they modify, as adjectives in most other Indo-European languages do. English language_sentence_299

For example, in the phrases the slender boy, and many slender girls, the adjective slender does not change form to agree with either the number or gender of the noun. English language_sentence_300

Some adjectives are inflected for degree of comparison, with the positive degree unmarked, the suffix -er marking the comparative, and -est marking the superlative: a small boy, the boy is smaller than the girl, that boy is the smallest. English language_sentence_301

Some adjectives have irregular comparative and superlative forms, such as good, better, and best. English language_sentence_302

Other adjectives have comparatives formed by periphrastic constructions, with the adverb more marking the comparative, and most marking the superlative: happier or more happy, the happiest or most happy. English language_sentence_303

There is some variation among speakers regarding which adjectives use inflected or periphrastic comparison, and some studies have shown a tendency for the periphrastic forms to become more common at the expense of the inflected form. English language_sentence_304

Pronouns, case, and person English language_section_19

English pronouns conserve many traits of case and gender inflection. English language_sentence_305

The personal pronouns retain a difference between subjective and objective case in most persons (I/me, he/him, she/her, we/us, they/them) as well as a gender and animateness distinction in the third person singular (distinguishing he/she/it). English language_sentence_306

The subjective case corresponds to the Old English nominative case, and the objective case is used both in the sense of the previous accusative case (in the role of patient, or direct object of a transitive verb), and in the sense of the Old English dative case (in the role of a recipient or indirect object of a transitive verb). English language_sentence_307

Subjective case is used when the pronoun is the subject of a finite clause, and otherwise, the objective case is used. English language_sentence_308

While grammarians such as Henry Sweet and Otto Jespersen noted that the English cases did not correspond to the traditional Latin-based system, some contemporary grammars, for example , retain traditional labels for the cases, calling them nominative and accusative cases respectively. English language_sentence_309

Possessive pronouns exist in dependent and independent forms; the dependent form functions as a determiner specifying a noun (as in my chair), while the independent form can stand alone as if it were a noun (e.g. the chair is mine). English language_sentence_310

The English system of grammatical person no longer has a distinction between formal and informal pronouns of address (the old 2nd person singular familiar pronoun thou acquired a pejorative or inferior tinge of meaning and was abandoned), and the forms for 2nd person plural and singular are identical except in the reflexive form. English language_sentence_311

Some dialects have introduced innovative 2nd person plural pronouns such as y'all found in Southern American English and African American (Vernacular) English or youse found in Australian English and ye in Irish English. English language_sentence_312

English language_table_general_5

English personal pronounsEnglish language_table_caption_5
PersonEnglish language_header_cell_5_0_0 Subjective caseEnglish language_header_cell_5_0_1 Objective caseEnglish language_header_cell_5_0_2 Dependent possessiveEnglish language_header_cell_5_0_3 Independent possessiveEnglish language_header_cell_5_0_4 ReflexiveEnglish language_header_cell_5_0_5
1st p. sg.English language_header_cell_5_1_0 IEnglish language_cell_5_1_1 meEnglish language_cell_5_1_2 myEnglish language_cell_5_1_3 mineEnglish language_cell_5_1_4 myselfEnglish language_cell_5_1_5
2nd p. sg.English language_header_cell_5_2_0 youEnglish language_cell_5_2_1 youEnglish language_cell_5_2_2 yourEnglish language_cell_5_2_3 yoursEnglish language_cell_5_2_4 yourselfEnglish language_cell_5_2_5
3rd p. sg.English language_header_cell_5_3_0 he/she/itEnglish language_cell_5_3_1 him/her/itEnglish language_cell_5_3_2 his/her/itsEnglish language_cell_5_3_3 his/hers/itsEnglish language_cell_5_3_4 himself/herself/itselfEnglish language_cell_5_3_5
1st p. pl.English language_header_cell_5_4_0 weEnglish language_cell_5_4_1 usEnglish language_cell_5_4_2 ourEnglish language_cell_5_4_3 oursEnglish language_cell_5_4_4 ourselvesEnglish language_cell_5_4_5
2nd p. pl.English language_header_cell_5_5_0 youEnglish language_cell_5_5_1 youEnglish language_cell_5_5_2 yourEnglish language_cell_5_5_3 yoursEnglish language_cell_5_5_4 yourselvesEnglish language_cell_5_5_5
3rd p. pl.English language_header_cell_5_6_0 theyEnglish language_cell_5_6_1 themEnglish language_cell_5_6_2 theirEnglish language_cell_5_6_3 theirsEnglish language_cell_5_6_4 themselvesEnglish language_cell_5_6_5

Pronouns are used to refer to entities deictically or anaphorically. English language_sentence_313

A deictic pronoun points to some person or object by identifying it relative to the speech situation—for example, the pronoun I identifies the speaker, and the pronoun you, the addressee. English language_sentence_314

Anaphoric pronouns such as that refer back to an entity already mentioned or assumed by the speaker to be known by the audience, for example in the sentence I already told you that. English language_sentence_315

The reflexive pronouns are used when the oblique argument is identical to the subject of a phrase (e.g. "he sent it to himself" or "she braced herself for impact"). English language_sentence_316

Prepositions English language_section_20

Prepositional phrases (PP) are phrases composed of a preposition and one or more nouns, e.g. with the dog, for my friend, to school, in England. English language_sentence_317

Prepositions have a wide range of uses in English. English language_sentence_318

They are used to describe movement, place, and other relations between different entities, but they also have many syntactic uses such as introducing complement clauses and oblique arguments of verbs. English language_sentence_319

For example, in the phrase I gave it to him, the preposition to marks the recipient, or Indirect Object of the verb to give. English language_sentence_320

Traditionally words were only considered prepositions if they governed the case of the noun they preceded, for example causing the pronouns to use the objective rather than subjective form, "with her", "to me", "for us". English language_sentence_321

But some contemporary grammars such as that of :598–600) no longer consider government of case to be the defining feature of the class of prepositions, rather defining prepositions as words that can function as the heads of prepositional phrases. English language_sentence_322

Verbs and verb phrases English language_section_21

English verbs are inflected for tense and aspect and marked for agreement with present-tense third-person singular subject. English language_sentence_323

Only the copula verb to be is still inflected for agreement with the plural and first and second person subjects. English language_sentence_324

Auxiliary verbs such as have and be are paired with verbs in the infinitive, past, or progressive forms. English language_sentence_325

They form complex tenses, aspects, and moods. English language_sentence_326

Auxiliary verbs differ from other verbs in that they can be followed by the negation, and in that they can occur as the first constituent in a question sentence. English language_sentence_327

Most verbs have six inflectional forms. English language_sentence_328

The primary forms are a plain present, a third-person singular present, and a preterite (past) form. English language_sentence_329

The secondary forms are a plain form used for the infinitive, a gerund-participle and a past participle. English language_sentence_330

The copula verb to be is the only verb to retain some of its original conjugation, and takes different inflectional forms depending on the subject. English language_sentence_331

The first-person present-tense form is am, the third person singular form is is, and the form are is used in the second-person singular and all three plurals. English language_sentence_332

The only verb past participle is been and its gerund-participle is being. English language_sentence_333

English language_table_general_6

English inflectional formsEnglish language_table_caption_6
InflectionEnglish language_header_cell_6_0_0 StrongEnglish language_header_cell_6_0_1 RegularEnglish language_header_cell_6_0_2
Plain presentEnglish language_header_cell_6_1_0 takeEnglish language_cell_6_1_1 loveEnglish language_cell_6_1_2
3rd person sg.

presentEnglish language_header_cell_6_2_0

takesEnglish language_cell_6_2_1 lovesEnglish language_cell_6_2_2
PreteriteEnglish language_header_cell_6_3_0 tookEnglish language_cell_6_3_1 lovedEnglish language_cell_6_3_2
Plain (infinitive)English language_header_cell_6_4_0 takeEnglish language_cell_6_4_1 loveEnglish language_cell_6_4_2
Gerund–participleEnglish language_header_cell_6_5_0 takingEnglish language_cell_6_5_1 lovingEnglish language_cell_6_5_2
Past participleEnglish language_header_cell_6_6_0 takenEnglish language_cell_6_6_1 lovedEnglish language_cell_6_6_2

Tense, aspect and mood English language_section_22

English has two primary tenses, past (preterit) and non-past. English language_sentence_334

The preterit is inflected by using the preterit form of the verb, which for the regular verbs includes the suffix -ed, and for the strong verbs either the suffix -t or a change in the stem vowel. English language_sentence_335

The non-past form is unmarked except in the third person singular, which takes the suffix -s. English language_sentence_336

English language_table_general_7

English language_header_cell_7_0_0 PresentEnglish language_header_cell_7_0_1 PreteriteEnglish language_header_cell_7_0_2
First personEnglish language_header_cell_7_1_0 I runEnglish language_cell_7_1_1 I ranEnglish language_cell_7_1_2
Second personEnglish language_header_cell_7_2_0 You runEnglish language_cell_7_2_1 You ranEnglish language_cell_7_2_2
Third personEnglish language_header_cell_7_3_0 John runsEnglish language_cell_7_3_1 John ranEnglish language_cell_7_3_2

English does not have a morphologised future tense. English language_sentence_337

Futurity of action is expressed periphrastically with one of the auxiliary verbs will or shall. English language_sentence_338

Many varieties also use a near future constructed with the phrasal verb be going to ("going-to future"). English language_sentence_339

English language_table_general_8

English language_header_cell_8_0_0 FutureEnglish language_header_cell_8_0_1
First personEnglish language_header_cell_8_1_0 I will runEnglish language_cell_8_1_1
Second personEnglish language_header_cell_8_2_0 You will runEnglish language_cell_8_2_1
Third personEnglish language_header_cell_8_3_0 John will runEnglish language_cell_8_3_1

Further aspectual distinctions are encoded by the use of auxiliary verbs, primarily have and be, which encode the contrast between a perfect and non-perfect past tense (I have run vs. English language_sentence_340

I was running), and compound tenses such as preterite perfect (I had been running) and present perfect (I have been running). English language_sentence_341

For the expression of mood, English uses a number of modal auxiliaries, such as can, may, will, shall and the past tense forms could, might, would, should. English language_sentence_342

There is also a subjunctive and an imperative mood, both based on the plain form of the verb (i.e. without the third person singular -s), and which is used in subordinate clauses (e.g. subjunctive: It is important that he run every day; imperative Run! English language_sentence_343

). English language_sentence_344

An infinitive form, that uses the plain form of the verb and the preposition to, is used for verbal clauses that are syntactically subordinate to a finite verbal clause. English language_sentence_345

Finite verbal clauses are those that are formed around a verb in the present or preterit form. English language_sentence_346

In clauses with auxiliary verbs, they are the finite verbs and the main verb is treated as a subordinate clause. English language_sentence_347

For example, he has to go where only the auxiliary verb have is inflected for time and the main verb to go is in the infinitive, or in a complement clause such as I saw him leave, where the main verb is to see which is in a preterite form, and leave is in the infinitive. English language_sentence_348

Phrasal verbs English language_section_23

English also makes frequent use of constructions traditionally called phrasal verbs, verb phrases that are made up of a verb root and a preposition or particle which follows the verb. English language_sentence_349

The phrase then functions as a single predicate. English language_sentence_350

In terms of intonation the preposition is fused to the verb, but in writing it is written as a separate word. English language_sentence_351

Examples of phrasal verbs are to get up, to ask out, to back up, to give up, to get together, to hang out, to put up with, etc. English language_sentence_352

The phrasal verb frequently has a highly idiomatic meaning that is more specialised and restricted than what can be simply extrapolated from the combination of verb and preposition complement (e.g. lay off meaning terminate someone's employment). English language_sentence_353

In spite of the idiomatic meaning, some grammarians, including :274), do not consider this type of construction to form a syntactic constituent and hence refrain from using the term "phrasal verb". English language_sentence_354

Instead, they consider the construction simply to be a verb with a prepositional phrase as its syntactic complement, i.e. he woke up in the morning and he ran up in the mountains are syntactically equivalent. English language_sentence_355

Adverbs English language_section_24

The function of adverbs is to modify the action or event described by the verb by providing additional information about the manner in which it occurs. English language_sentence_356

Many adverbs are derived from adjectives by appending the suffix -ly. English language_sentence_357

For example, in the phrase the woman walked quickly, the adverb quickly is derived in this way from the adjective quick. English language_sentence_358

Some commonly used adjectives have irregular adverbial forms, such as good which has the adverbial form well. English language_sentence_359

Syntax English language_section_25

Modern English syntax language is moderately analytic. English language_sentence_360

It has developed features such as modal verbs and word order as resources for conveying meaning. English language_sentence_361

Auxiliary verbs mark constructions such as questions, negative polarity, the passive voice and progressive aspect. English language_sentence_362

Basic constituent order English language_section_26

English word order has moved from the Germanic verb-second (V2) word order to being almost exclusively subject–verb–object (SVO). English language_sentence_363

The combination of SVO order and use of auxiliary verbs often creates clusters of two or more verbs at the centre of the sentence, such as he had hoped to try to open it. English language_sentence_364

In most sentences, English only marks grammatical relations through word order. English language_sentence_365

The subject constituent precedes the verb and the object constituent follows it. English language_sentence_366

The example below demonstrates how the grammatical roles of each constituent is marked only by the position relative to the verb: English language_sentence_367

An exception is found in sentences where one of the constituents is a pronoun, in which case it is doubly marked, both by word order and by case inflection, where the subject pronoun precedes the verb and takes the subjective case form, and the object pronoun follows the verb and takes the objective case form. English language_sentence_368

The example below demonstrates this double marking in a sentence where both object and subject is represented with a third person singular masculine pronoun: English language_sentence_369

Indirect objects (IO) of ditransitive verbs can be placed either as the first object in a double object construction (S V IO O), such as I gave Jane the book or in a prepositional phrase, such as I gave the book to Jane. English language_sentence_370

Clause syntax English language_section_27

Main article: English clause syntax English language_sentence_371

In English a sentence may be composed of one or more clauses, that may, in turn, be composed of one or more phrases (e.g. Noun Phrases, Verb Phrases, and Prepositional Phrases). English language_sentence_372

A clause is built around a verb and includes its constituents, such as any NPs and PPs. English language_sentence_373

Within a sentence, there is always at least one main clause (or matrix clause) whereas other clauses are subordinate to a main clause. English language_sentence_374

Subordinate clauses may function as arguments of the verb in the main clause. English language_sentence_375

For example, in the phrase I think (that) you are lying, the main clause is headed by the verb think, the subject is I, but the object of the phrase is the subordinate clause (that) you are lying. English language_sentence_376

The subordinating conjunction that shows that the clause that follows is a subordinate clause, but it is often omitted. English language_sentence_377

Relative clauses are clauses that function as a modifier or specifier to some constituent in the main clause: For example, in the sentence I saw the letter that you received today, the relative clause that you received today specifies the meaning of the word letter, the object of the main clause. English language_sentence_378

Relative clauses can be introduced by the pronouns who, whose, whom and which as well as by that (which can also be omitted.) English language_sentence_379

In contrast to many other Germanic languages there is no major differences between word order in main and subordinate clauses. English language_sentence_380

Auxiliary verb constructions English language_section_28

Main articles: Do-support and Subject–auxiliary inversion English language_sentence_381

English syntax relies on auxiliary verbs for many functions including the expression of tense, aspect, and mood. English language_sentence_382

Auxiliary verbs form main clauses, and the main verbs function as heads of a subordinate clause of the auxiliary verb. English language_sentence_383

For example, in the sentence the dog did not find its bone, the clause find its bone is the complement of the negated verb did not. English language_sentence_384

Subject–auxiliary inversion is used in many constructions, including focus, negation, and interrogative constructions. English language_sentence_385

The verb do can be used as an auxiliary even in simple declarative sentences, where it usually serves to add emphasis, as in "I did shut the fridge." English language_sentence_386

However, in the negated and inverted clauses referred to above, it is used because the rules of English syntax permit these constructions only when an auxiliary is present. English language_sentence_387

Modern English does not allow the addition of the negating adverb not to an ordinary finite lexical verb, as in *I know not—it can only be added to an auxiliary (or copular) verb, hence if there is no other auxiliary present when negation is required, the auxiliary do is used, to produce a form like I do not (don't) know. English language_sentence_388

The same applies in clauses requiring inversion, including most questions—inversion must involve the subject and an auxiliary verb, so it is not possible to say *Know you him? English language_sentence_389

grammatical rules require Do you know him? English language_sentence_390

Negation is done with the adverb not, which precedes the main verb and follows an auxiliary verb. English language_sentence_391

A contracted form of not -n't can be used as an enclitic attaching to auxiliary verbs and to the copula verb to be. English language_sentence_392

Just as with questions, many negative constructions require the negation to occur with do-support, thus in Modern English I don't know him is the correct answer to the question Do you know him?, but not *I know him not, although this construction may be found in older English. English language_sentence_393

Passive constructions also use auxiliary verbs. English language_sentence_394

A passive construction rephrases an active construction in such a way that the object of the active phrase becomes the subject of the passive phrase, and the subject of the active phrase is either omitted or demoted to a role as an oblique argument introduced in a prepositional phrase. English language_sentence_395

They are formed by using the past participle either with the auxiliary verb to be or to get, although not all varieties of English allow the use of passives with get. English language_sentence_396

For example, putting the sentence she sees him into the passive becomes he is seen (by her), or he gets seen (by her). English language_sentence_397

Questions English language_section_29

Both yes–no questions and wh-questions in English are mostly formed using subject–auxiliary inversion (Am I going tomorrow?, Where can we eat? English language_sentence_398

), which may require do-support (Do you like her?, Where did he go?). English language_sentence_399

In most cases, interrogative words (wh-words; e.g. what, who, where, when, why, how) appear in a fronted position. English language_sentence_400

For example, in the question What did you see?, the word what appears as the first constituent despite being the grammatical object of the sentence. English language_sentence_401

(When the wh-word is the subject or forms part of the subject, no inversion occurs: Who saw the cat?.) English language_sentence_402

Prepositional phrases can also be fronted when they are the question's theme, e.g. To whose house did you go last night?. English language_sentence_403

The personal interrogative pronoun who is the only interrogative pronoun to still show inflection for case, with the variant whom serving as the objective case form, although this form may be going out of use in many contexts. English language_sentence_404

Discourse level syntax English language_section_30

While English is a subject-prominent language, at the discourse level it tends to use a topic-comment structure, where the known information (topic) precedes the new information (comment). English language_sentence_405

Because of the strict SVO syntax, the topic of a sentence generally has to be the grammatical subject of the sentence. English language_sentence_406

In cases where the topic is not the grammatical subject of the sentence, frequently the topic is promoted to subject position through syntactic means. English language_sentence_407

One way of doing this is through a passive construction, the girl was stung by the bee. English language_sentence_408

Another way is through a cleft sentence where the main clause is demoted to be a complement clause of a copula sentence with a dummy subject such as it or there, e.g. it was the girl that the bee stung, there was a girl who was stung by a bee. English language_sentence_409

Dummy subjects are also used in constructions where there is no grammatical subject such as with impersonal verbs (e.g., it is raining) or in existential clauses (there are many cars on the street). English language_sentence_410

Through the use of these complex sentence constructions with informationally vacuous subjects, English is able to maintain both a topic-comment sentence structure and a SVO syntax. English language_sentence_411

Focus constructions emphasise a particular piece of new or salient information within a sentence, generally through allocating the main sentence level stress on the focal constituent. English language_sentence_412

For example, the girl was stung by a bee (emphasising it was a bee and not, for example, a wasp that stung her), or The girl was stung by a bee (contrasting with another possibility, for example that it was the boy). English language_sentence_413

Topic and focus can also be established through syntactic dislocation, either preposing or postposing the item to be focused on relative to the main clause. English language_sentence_414

For example, That girl over there, she was stung by a bee, emphasises the girl by preposition, but a similar effect could be achieved by postposition, she was stung by a bee, that girl over there, where reference to the girl is established as an "afterthought". English language_sentence_415

Cohesion between sentences is achieved through the use of deictic pronouns as anaphora (e.g. that is exactly what I mean where that refers to some fact known to both interlocutors, or then used to locate the time of a narrated event relative to the time of a previously narrated event). English language_sentence_416

Discourse markers such as oh, so or well, also signal the progression of ideas between sentences and help to create cohesion. English language_sentence_417

Discourse markers are often the first constituents in sentences. English language_sentence_418

Discourse markers are also used for stance taking in which speakers position themselves in a specific attitude towards what is being said, for example, no way is that true! English language_sentence_419

(the idiomatic marker no way! English language_sentence_420

expressing disbelief), or boy! English language_sentence_421

I'm hungry (the marker boy expressing emphasis). English language_sentence_422

While discourse markers are particularly characteristic of informal and spoken registers of English, they are also used in written and formal registers. English language_sentence_423

Vocabulary English language_section_31

See also: Foreign language influences in English English language_sentence_424

English is a rich language in terms of vocabulary, containing more synonyms than any other language. English language_sentence_425

There are words which appear on the surface to mean exactly the same thing but which, in fact, have slightly different shades of meaning and must be chosen appropriately if a speaker wants to convey precisely the message intended. English language_sentence_426

It is generally stated that English has around 170,000 words, or 220,000 if obsolete words are counted; this estimate is based on the last full edition of the Oxford English Dictionary from 1989. English language_sentence_427

Over half of these words are nouns, a quarter adjectives, and a seventh verbs. English language_sentence_428

There is one count that puts the English vocabulary at about 1 million words—but that count presumably includes words such as Latin species names, scientific terminology, botanical terms, prefixed and suffixed words, jargon, foreign words of extremely limited English use, and technical acronyms. English language_sentence_429

Due to its status as an international language, English adopts foreign words quickly, and borrows vocabulary from many other sources. English language_sentence_430

Early studies of English vocabulary by lexicographers, the scholars who formally study vocabulary, compile dictionaries, or both, were impeded by a lack of comprehensive data on actual vocabulary in use from good-quality linguistic corpora, collections of actual written texts and spoken passages. English language_sentence_431

Many statements published before the end of the 20th century about the growth of English vocabulary over time, the dates of first use of various words in English, and the sources of English vocabulary will have to be corrected as new computerised analysis of linguistic corpus data becomes available. English language_sentence_432

Word formation processes English language_section_32

English forms new words from existing words or roots in its vocabulary through a variety of processes. English language_sentence_433

One of the most productive processes in English is conversion, using a word with a different grammatical role, for example using a noun as a verb or a verb as a noun. English language_sentence_434

Another productive word-formation process is nominal compounding, producing compound words such as babysitter or ice cream or homesick. English language_sentence_435

A process more common in Old English than in Modern English, but still productive in Modern English, is the use of derivational suffixes (-hood, -ness, -ing, -ility) to derive new words from existing words (especially those of Germanic origin) or stems (especially for words of Latin or Greek origin). English language_sentence_436

Formation of new words, called neologisms, based on Greek and/or Latin roots (for example television or optometry) is a highly productive process in English and in most modern European languages, so much so that it is often difficult to determine in which language a neologism originated. English language_sentence_437

For this reason, lexicographer Philip Gove attributed many such words to the "international scientific vocabulary" (ISV) when compiling Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1961). English language_sentence_438

Another active word-formation process in English are acronyms, words formed by pronouncing as a single word abbreviations of longer phrases, e.g. NATO, laser). English language_sentence_439

Word origins English language_section_33

Main article: Lists of English loanwords by country or language of origin English language_sentence_440

See also: Linguistic purism in English English language_sentence_441

English, besides forming new words from existing words and their roots, also borrows words from other languages. English language_sentence_442

This adoption of words from other languages is commonplace in many world languages, but English has been especially open to borrowing of foreign words throughout the last 1,000 years. English language_sentence_443

The most commonly used words in English are West Germanic. English language_sentence_444

The words in English learned first by children as they learn to speak, particularly the grammatical words that dominate the word count of both spoken and written texts, are mainly the Germanic words inherited from the earliest periods of the development of Old English. English language_sentence_445

But one of the consequences of long language contact between French and English in all stages of their development is that the vocabulary of English has a very high percentage of "Latinate" words (derived from French, especially, and also from other Romance languages and Latin). English language_sentence_446

French words from various periods of the development of French now make up one-third of the vocabulary of English. English language_sentence_447

Linguist Anthony Lacoudre estimated that over 40,000 English words are of French origin and may be understood without orthographical change by French speakers. English language_sentence_448

Words of Old Norse origin have entered the English language primarily from the contact between Old Norse and Old English during colonisation of eastern and northern England. English language_sentence_449

Many of these words are part of English core vocabulary, such as egg and knife. English language_sentence_450

English has also borrowed many words directly from Latin, the ancestor of the Romance languages, during all stages of its development. English language_sentence_451

Many of these words had earlier been borrowed into Latin from Greek. English language_sentence_452

Latin or Greek are still highly productive sources of stems used to form vocabulary of subjects learned in higher education such as the sciences, philosophy, and mathematics. English language_sentence_453

English continues to gain new loanwords and calques ("loan translations") from languages all over the world, and words from languages other than the ancestral Anglo-Saxon language make up about 60% of the vocabulary of English. English language_sentence_454

English has formal and informal speech registers; informal registers, including child-directed speech, tend to be made up predominantly of words of Anglo-Saxon origin, while the percentage of vocabulary that is of Latinate origin is higher in legal, scientific, and academic texts. English language_sentence_455

English loanwords and calques in other languages English language_section_34

English has had a strong influence on the vocabulary of other languages. English language_sentence_456

The influence of English comes from such factors as opinion leaders in other countries knowing the English language, the role of English as a world lingua franca, and the large number of books and films that are translated from English into other languages. English language_sentence_457

That pervasive use of English leads to a conclusion in many places that English is an especially suitable language for expressing new ideas or describing new technologies. English language_sentence_458

Among varieties of English, it is especially American English that influences other languages. English language_sentence_459

Some languages, such as Chinese, write words borrowed from English mostly as calques, while others, such as Japanese, readily take in English loanwords written in sound-indicating script. English language_sentence_460

Dubbed films and television programmes are an especially fruitful source of English influence on languages in Europe. English language_sentence_461

Writing system English language_section_35

See also: English alphabet, English braille, and English orthography English language_sentence_462

Since the ninth century, English has been written in a Latin alphabet (also called Roman alphabet). English language_sentence_463

Earlier Old English texts in Anglo-Saxon runes are only short inscriptions. English language_sentence_464

The great majority of literary works in Old English that survive to today are written in the Roman alphabet. English language_sentence_465

The modern English alphabet contains 26 letters of the Latin script: a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z (which also have capital forms: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z). English language_sentence_466

The spelling system, or orthography, of English is multi-layered, with elements of French, Latin, and Greek spelling on top of the native Germanic system. English language_sentence_467

Further complications have arisen through sound changes with which the orthography has not kept pace. English language_sentence_468

Compared to European languages for which official organisations have promoted spelling reforms, English has spelling that is a less consistent indicator of pronunciation, and standard spellings of words that are more difficult to guess from knowing how a word is pronounced. English language_sentence_469

There are also systematic spelling differences between British and American English. English language_sentence_470

These situations have prompted proposals for spelling reform in English. English language_sentence_471

Although letters and speech sounds do not have a one-to-one correspondence in standard English spelling, spelling rules that take into account syllable structure, phonetic changes in derived words, and word accent are reliable for most English words. English language_sentence_472

Moreover, standard English spelling shows etymological relationships between related words that would be obscured by a closer correspondence between pronunciation and spelling, for example the words photograph, photography, and photographic, or the words electricity and electrical. English language_sentence_473

While few scholars agree with Chomsky and Halle (1968) that conventional English orthography is "near-optimal", there is a rationale for current English spelling patterns. English language_sentence_474

The standard orthography of English is the most widely used writing system in the world. English language_sentence_475

Standard English spelling is based on a graphomorphemic segmentation of words into written clues of what meaningful units make up each word. English language_sentence_476

Readers of English can generally rely on the correspondence between spelling and pronunciation to be fairly regular for letters or digraphs used to spell consonant sounds. English language_sentence_477

The letters b, d, f, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, w, y, z represent, respectively, the phonemes /b, d, f, h, dʒ, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, w, j, z/. English language_sentence_478

The letters c and g normally represent /k/ and /ɡ/, but there is also a soft c pronounced /s/, and a soft g pronounced /dʒ/. English language_sentence_479

The differences in the pronunciations of the letters c and g are often signalled by the following letters in standard English spelling. English language_sentence_480

Digraphs used to represent phonemes and phoneme sequences include ch for /tʃ/, sh for /ʃ/, th for /θ/ or /ð/, ng for /ŋ/, qu for /kw/, and ph for /f/ in Greek-derived words. English language_sentence_481

The single letter x is generally pronounced as /z/ in word-initial position and as /ks/ otherwise. English language_sentence_482

There are exceptions to these generalisations, often the result of loanwords being spelled according to the spelling patterns of their languages of origin or residues of proposals by scholars in the early period of Modern English to follow the spelling patterns of Latin for English words of Germanic origin. English language_sentence_483

For the vowel sounds of the English language, however, correspondences between spelling and pronunciation are more irregular. English language_sentence_484

There are many more vowel phonemes in English than there are single vowel letters (a, e, i, o, u, w, y). English language_sentence_485

As a result, some "long vowels" are often indicated by combinations of letters (like the oa in boat, the ow in how, and the ay in stay), or the historically based silent e (as in note and cake). English language_sentence_486

The consequence of this complex orthographic history is that learning to read can be challenging in English. English language_sentence_487

It can take longer for school pupils to become independently fluent readers of English than of many other languages, including Italian, Spanish, and German. English language_sentence_488

Nonetheless, there is an advantage for learners of English reading in learning the specific sound-symbol regularities that occur in the standard English spellings of commonly used words. English language_sentence_489

Such instruction greatly reduces the risk of children experiencing reading difficulties in English. English language_sentence_490

Making primary school teachers more aware of the primacy of morpheme representation in English may help learners learn more efficiently to read and write English. English language_sentence_491

English writing also includes a system of punctuation marks that is similar to those used in most alphabetic languages around the world. English language_sentence_492

The purpose of punctuation is to mark meaningful grammatical relationships in sentences to aid readers in understanding a text and to indicate features important for reading a text aloud. English language_sentence_493

Dialects, accents, and varieties English language_section_36

Main articles: List of dialects of the English language, World Englishes, and regional accents of English English language_sentence_494

Dialectologists identify many English dialects, which usually refer to regional varieties that differ from each other in terms of patterns of grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. English language_sentence_495

The pronunciation of particular areas distinguishes dialects as separate regional accents. English language_sentence_496

The major native dialects of English are often divided by linguists into the two extremely general categories of British English (BrE) and North American English (NAE). English language_sentence_497

There also exists a third common major grouping of English varieties: Southern Hemisphere English, the most prominent being Australian and New Zealand English. English language_sentence_498

United Kingdom and Ireland English language_section_37

See also: English language in England, Northern England English, Scots language, Scottish English, Welsh English, Estuary English, Ulster English, and Hiberno-English English language_sentence_499

As the place where English first evolved, the British Isles, and particularly England, are home to the most diverse dialects. English language_sentence_500

Within the United Kingdom, the Received Pronunciation (RP), an educated dialect of South East England, is traditionally used as the broadcast standard and is considered the most prestigious of the British dialects. English language_sentence_501

The spread of RP (also known as BBC English) through the media has caused many traditional dialects of rural England to recede, as youths adopt the traits of the prestige variety instead of traits from local dialects. English language_sentence_502

At the time of the Survey of English Dialects, grammar and vocabulary differed across the country, but a process of lexical attrition has led most of this variation to disappear. English language_sentence_503

Nonetheless, this attrition has mostly affected dialectal variation in grammar and vocabulary, and in fact, only 3 percent of the English population actually speak RP, the remainder speaking in regional accents and dialects with varying degrees of RP influence. English language_sentence_504

There is also variability within RP, particularly along class lines between Upper and Middle-class RP speakers and between native RP speakers and speakers who adopt RP later in life. English language_sentence_505

Within Britain, there is also considerable variation along lines of social class, and some traits though exceedingly common are considered "non-standard" and are associated with lower class speakers and identities. English language_sentence_506

An example of this is H-dropping, which was historically a feature of lower-class London English, particularly Cockney, and can now be heard in the local accents of most parts of England—yet it remains largely absent in broadcasting and among the upper crust of British society. English language_sentence_507

English in England can be divided into four major dialect regions, Southwest English, South East English, Midlands English, and Northern English. English language_sentence_508

Within each of these regions several local subdialects exist: Within the Northern region, there is a division between the Yorkshire dialects and the Geordie dialect spoken in Northumbria around Newcastle, and the Lancashire dialects with local urban dialects in Liverpool (Scouse) and Manchester (Mancunian). English language_sentence_509

Having been the centre of Danish occupation during the Viking Invasions, Northern English dialects, particularly the Yorkshire dialect, retain Norse features not found in other English varieties. English language_sentence_510

Since the 15th century, southeastern England varieties have centred on London, which has been the centre from which dialectal innovations have spread to other dialects. English language_sentence_511

In London, the Cockney dialect was traditionally used by the lower classes, and it was long a socially stigmatised variety. English language_sentence_512

The spread of Cockney features across the south-east led the media to talk of Estuary English as a new dialect, but the notion was criticised by many linguists on the grounds that London had been influencing neighbouring regions throughout history. English language_sentence_513

Traits that have spread from London in recent decades include the use of intrusive R (drawing is pronounced drawring /ˈdrɔːrɪŋ/), t-glottalisation (Potter is pronounced with a glottal stop as Po'er /poʔʌ/), and the pronunciation of th- as /f/ (thanks pronounced fanks) or /v/ (bother pronounced bover). English language_sentence_514

Scots is today considered a separate language from English, but it has its origins in early Northern Middle English and developed and changed during its history with influence from other sources, particularly Scots Gaelic and Old Norse. English language_sentence_515

Scots itself has a number of regional dialects. English language_sentence_516

And in addition to Scots, Scottish English comprises the varieties of Standard English spoken in Scotland; most varieties are Northern English accents, with some influence from Scots. English language_sentence_517

In Ireland, various forms of English have been spoken since the Norman invasions of the 11th century. English language_sentence_518

In County Wexford, in the area surrounding Dublin, two extinct dialects known as Forth and Bargy and Fingallian developed as offshoots from Early Middle English, and were spoken until the 19th century. English language_sentence_519

Modern Irish English, however, has its roots in English colonisation in the 17th century. English language_sentence_520

Today Irish English is divided into Ulster English, the Northern Ireland dialect with strong influence from Scots, and various dialects of the Republic of Ireland. English language_sentence_521

Like Scottish and most North American accents, almost all Irish accents preserve the rhoticity which has been lost in the dialects influenced by RP. English language_sentence_522

North America English language_section_38

Main articles: American English, General American, African American Vernacular English, Southern American English, Canadian English, and Atlantic Canadian English English language_sentence_523

North American English is fairly homogeneous compared to British English. English language_sentence_524

Today, American accent variation is often increasing at the regional level and decreasing at the very local level, though most Americans still speak within a phonological continuum of similar accents, known collectively as General American (GA), with differences hardly noticed even among Americans themselves (such as Midland and Western American English). English language_sentence_525

In most American and Canadian English dialects, rhoticity (or r-fulness) is dominant, with non-rhoticity (r-dropping) becoming associated with lower prestige and social class especially after World War II; this contrasts with the situation in England, where non-rhoticity has become the standard. English language_sentence_526

Separate from GA are American dialects with clearly distinct sound systems, historically including Southern American English, English of the coastal Northeast (famously including Eastern New England English and New York City English), and African American Vernacular English, all of which are historically non-rhotic. English language_sentence_527

Canadian English, except for the Atlantic provinces and perhaps Quebec, may be classified under GA as well, but it often shows the raising of the vowels /aɪ/ and /aʊ/ before voiceless consonants, as well as distinct norms for written and pronunciation standards. English language_sentence_528

In Southern American English, the most populous American "accent group" outside of GA, rhoticity now strongly prevails, replacing the region's historical non-rhotic prestige. English language_sentence_529

Southern accents are colloquially described as a "drawl" or "twang," being recognised most readily by the Southern Vowel Shift initiated by glide-deleting in the /aɪ/ vowel (e.g. pronouncing spy almost like spa), the "Southern breaking" of several front pure vowels into a gliding vowel or even two syllables (e.g. pronouncing the word "press" almost like "pray-us"), the pin–pen merger, and other distinctive phonological, grammatical, and lexical features, many of which are actually recent developments of the 19th century or later. English language_sentence_530

Today spoken primarily by working- and middle-class African Americans, African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) is also largely non-rhotic and likely originated among enslaved Africans and African Americans influenced primarily by the non-rhotic, non-standard older Southern dialects. English language_sentence_531

A minority of linguists, contrarily, propose that AAVE mostly traces back to African languages spoken by the slaves who had to develop a pidgin or Creole English to communicate with slaves of other ethnic and linguistic origins. English language_sentence_532

AAVE's important commonalities with Southern accents suggests it developed into a highly coherent and homogeneous variety in the 19th or early 20th century. English language_sentence_533

AAVE is commonly stigmatised in North America as a form of "broken" or "uneducated" English, as are white Southern accents, but linguists today recognise both as fully developed varieties of English with their own norms shared by a large speech community. English language_sentence_534

Australia and New Zealand English language_section_39

Main articles: Australian English and New Zealand English English language_sentence_535

Since 1788, English has been spoken in Oceania, and Australian English has developed as a first language of the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Australian continent, its standard accent being General Australian. English language_sentence_536

The English of neighbouring New Zealand has to a lesser degree become an influential standard variety of the language. English language_sentence_537

Australian and New Zealand English are each other's closest relatives with few differentiating characteristics, followed by South African English and the English of southeastern England, all of which have similarly non-rhotic accents, aside from some accents in the South Island of New Zealand. English language_sentence_538

Australian and New Zealand English stand out for their innovative vowels: many short vowels are fronted or raised, whereas many long vowels have diphthongised. English language_sentence_539

Australian English also has a contrast between long and short vowels, not found in most other varieties. English language_sentence_540

Australian English grammar aligns closely to British and American English; like American English, collective plural subjects take on a singular verb (as in the government is rather than are). English language_sentence_541

New Zealand English uses front vowels that are often even higher than in Australian English. English language_sentence_542

Southeast Asia English language_section_40

Main articles: Philippine English and Singapore English English language_sentence_543

The first significant exposure of the Philippines to the English language occurred in 1762 when the British occupied Manila during the Seven Years' War, but this was a brief episode that had no lasting influence. English language_sentence_544

English later became more important and widespread during American rule between 1898 and 1946, and remains an official language of the Philippines. English language_sentence_545

Today, the use of English is ubiquitous in the Philippines, from street signs and marquees, government documents and forms, courtrooms, the media and entertainment industries, the business sector, and other aspects of daily life. English language_sentence_546

One such usage that is also prominent in the country is in speech, where most Filipinos from Manila would use or have been exposed to Taglish, a form of code-switching between Tagalog and English. English language_sentence_547

A similar code-switching method is used by urban native speakers of Visayan languages called Bislish. English language_sentence_548

Africa, the Caribbean, and South Asia English language_section_41

See also: South African English, Nigerian English, Caribbean English, Indian English, and Pakistani English English language_sentence_549

English is spoken widely in southern Africa and is an official or co-official language in several countries. English language_sentence_550

In South Africa, English has been spoken since 1820, co-existing with Afrikaans and various African languages such as the Khoe and Bantu languages. English language_sentence_551

Today, about 9 percent of the South African population speaks South African English (SAE) as a first language. English language_sentence_552

SAE is a non-rhotic variety, which tends to follow RP as a norm. English language_sentence_553

It is alone among non-rhotic varieties in lacking intrusive r. There are different L2 varieties that differ based on the native language of the speakers. English language_sentence_554

Most phonological differences from RP are in the vowels. English language_sentence_555

Consonant differences include the tendency to pronounce /p, t, t͡ʃ, k/ without aspiration (e.g. pin pronounced [pɪn] rather than as [pʰɪn] as in most other varieties), while r is often pronounced as a flap [ɾ] instead of as the more common fricative. English language_sentence_556

Nigerian English is a dialect of English spoken in Nigeria. English language_sentence_557

It is based on British English, but in recent years, because of influence from the United States, some words of American English origin have made it into Nigerian English. English language_sentence_558

Additionally, some new words and collocations have emerged from the language, which come from the need to express concepts specific to the culture of the nation (e.g. senior wife). English language_sentence_559

Over 150 million Nigerians speak English. English language_sentence_560

Several varieties of English are also spoken in the Caribbean islands that were colonial possessions of Britain, including Jamaica, and the Leeward and Windward Islands and Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, and Belize. English language_sentence_561

Each of these areas is home both to a local variety of English and a local English-based creole, combining English and African languages. English language_sentence_562

The most prominent varieties are Jamaican English and Jamaican Creole. English language_sentence_563

In Central America, English-based creoles are spoken in on the Caribbean coasts of Nicaragua and Panama. English language_sentence_564

Locals are often fluent both in the local English variety and the local creole languages and code-switching between them is frequent, indeed another way to conceptualise the relationship between Creole and Standard varieties is to see a spectrum of social registers with the Creole forms serving as "basilect" and the more RP-like forms serving as the "acrolect", the most formal register. English language_sentence_565

Most Caribbean varieties are based on British English and consequently, most are non-rhotic, except for formal styles of Jamaican English which are often rhotic. English language_sentence_566

Jamaican English differs from RP in its vowel inventory, which has a distinction between long and short vowels rather than tense and lax vowels as in Standard English. English language_sentence_567

The diphthongs /ei/ and /ou/ are monophthongs [eː] and [oː] or even the reverse diphthongs [ie] and [uo] (e.g. bay and boat pronounced [bʲeː] and [bʷoːt]). English language_sentence_568

Often word-final consonant clusters are simplified so that "child" is pronounced [t͡ʃail] and "wind" [win]. English language_sentence_569

As a historical legacy, Indian English tends to take RP as its ideal, and how well this ideal is realised in an individual's speech reflects class distinctions among Indian English speakers. English language_sentence_570

Indian English accents are marked by the pronunciation of phonemes such as /t/ and /d/ (often pronounced with retroflex articulation as [ʈ] and [ɖ]) and the replacement of /θ/ and /ð/ with dentals [t̪] and [d̪]. English language_sentence_571

Sometimes Indian English speakers may also use spelling based pronunciations where the silent ⟨h⟩ found in words such as ghost is pronounced as an Indian voiced aspirated stop [ɡʱ]. English language_sentence_572

See also English language_section_42

English language_unordered_list_10


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English language.