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Sunday, May 10, 2015


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Mike Hammock

At the risk of being pedantic, I think you may have erred in your presentation of the shift of English away from inflections. You say "...English had been a heavily inflected language, where the way you spoke a word had as great an impact on the meaning as the way it was written."

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding what you're saying here, but it sounds like you're confused about what "inflected" means in this context. While it's true that "inflection" today is used to refer to the way a word is spoken, that's not what it means for a language to be "inflected". An inflected language is one in which words have a long list of endings, or inflections, which are used to represent the grammatical role of a word in a sentence, as well as represent gender or whether something is singular or plural. In modern English, the "s" and "es" to represent plurals are inflections. The addition of "ed" to a verb to make it past tense is an inflection. English used to have a lot of these, like Latin. Inflections had to agree as well, so that an adjective's inflection had to match that of the noun it was modifying.

Frankly, it's a mess, and I'm glad English got rid of it. English is itself an awful mess, but at least we don't have to worry about the gender of inanimate objects.

If you'd like to learn more, you cannot do better than Kevin Stroud's "History of English Podcast". Actually, I think the two of you should team up somehow. Maybe you could get him to do the word segment at the end of your show, and you could cover some bit of English history for his show.

The History of England

Thanks for the correction Mike...I'll try and put a brief word at the start of the next episode.
And, spookily, Kevin and I have already spoken! He's got a couple of weekly words lined up for 3 week's time...

Mike Hammock

Wonderful! I am looking forward to seeing what you and Mr. Stroud create.

Joseph Muita

Nice recording >Very informative.

Jeffrey W Percival

Regarding Kevin Stroud's "History of English" podcast, I've been listening to that in tandem with this excellent podcast, and I find the synergy between them wonderful. Learning about the political outcomes of invasion or occupation, and also learning about the linguistic outcomes, provides a much more nuanced view of the whole history of the times. I feel fortunate to have found two such wonderful podcasts, and podcasters.

The History of England

Thank you everyone, I feel warm and fuzzy; which is a good thing I'm told! Yup, agree - Kevin's podcast has helped me make my new Anglo Saxon England podcast better (I hope!).

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