"Broken English is the language of the world", as a friend of mine used to say. And it's true: As the world's lingua franca, a smattering of English is often enough to communicate.
Aside from Great Britain's colonial power and U.S. economic influence, it's surprising to see the world embrace such a difficult-to-use language. One of those making this point (about the difficulty of English, not the surprise of English being the lingua franca) is Philip Seymour of Dundee University.
English is toughest European language to read provides a look at a study conducted by Seymour and his team. The study found "that those learning Romance languages such as Italian and French progressed faster than those learning a Germanic language such as German and English".
In Finnish, which Seymour found to be the easiest European language to learn to read, the relationship between a letter and its sound is fixed.The article also goes on to ponder if "Seymour's findings might explain why more people are diagnosed as being dyslexic in English-speaking countries than elsewhere".
However, in English a letter's sound often depends on its context within the word. For example, the letter c can sound soft (as in receive) or hard (as in cat). Many words like "yacht" don't seem to follow any logic at all.
While it's easy to learn a bit of English, English grammar makes it difficult for non-native English speakers to get a full command of the language.
Want to read more about this subject? Take a look at some of our other articles on English:
- 10 reasons why English is so difficult to translate
- English as lingua franca around the world
- Language fact: British vs. American English
- British English A to Zed
- Sometimes English is not sexy but stupid
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