rules of English

Marcus Kit Petz MPETZ at FS2.SCG.MAN.AC.UK
Wed Dec 13 13:07:56 CST 1995

English a mess.

It certainly is. It is not even etymologically correct. Look at the
word Island for example. Even though it is well known the s should
be ommitted, etymologically speaking, it persists.
As for no rules, usage is a very strong rule - look at the persistance
of Latin forms of Grammar (hence the avoidance of split
infinitives). Also the refusual to accept 2 as equally valid with
As for pronunciation, there are some who rightly do favor certain
pronunciations. Ironically Computer pronounced 'compootar' will be
looked on less favourably than comp- you - tur. This does result in
descrimination reinfocing a certain usage. As you point out the OED
is often taken as the arbitor of correctness. Another example is
Rottweiler which is often incorrectly pronounced "w" rather than "V".
This is a rule forcing itself. Eventually pronunciation of "w" will
be seen as correct and "v" as incorrect much as Halley as in Halley`s
Comet has done.

No, academy is not necessarily a bad thing. An academy could easily
provide a standard form for formal writting and make any required
changes to the language felt necessary.If there is no authority there
can be little directed change. It is only when they turn into
 Linguistic Fascists as in France banning neologisms (new words)
that they become a problem.


Date:          Tue, 12 Dec 1995 09:30:45 -0700
Reply-to:      Michael Ivie <ueymi at GEMINI.OSCS.MONTANA.EDU>
From:          Michael Ivie <ueymi at GEMINI.OSCS.MONTANA.EDU>
Subject:       rules of English
To:            Multiple recipients of list>

Regarding rules for English pronunciation, there really are none.  It is
important to understand that English is a "free" language, unconstrained by
an Academy like the French, Spanish and others.  Therefore, the language
evolves solely through usage.  The purity concepts that have arisen in
German during the Nazi period and French in the recent past have no
parallel in English.

Therefore, there are guidelines, not rules, and they vary among the English
speaking countries.  For instance, the ending of words terminating with a
vowel pronounced with an "r" sound is characteristic of certain areas of
Britian, while ending each sentence with "eh?" is only required in Canada.

For a good review of basic rules, see English-Russian Dictionary, 1988,
V. K. Mueller, Russky Tazyk publishers, Moscow.  Recognize that the
guidelines here are British usage.

Then, remember that the tradition is to follow established pronunciation,
and baring that, pronounce any unfamiliar word as if it is in English.
Looking up a work in the OED is the final arbitrator for most.

English as a phonetic language is a mess.  Thank goodness for French, so
that we may have at least a close second.  Would that the worlds languages
were all so phonetic as Spanish, Russian, or Malagasy.

Mike Ivie
If a man marches to a different beat perhaps he hears a different drummer.

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