English is probably the most widely spoken language in the world. In most cases when someone visits a country where they do not speak the local language, English is often the go-to option for communication. English could be considered the new universal language, the new Latin. It is on television, in the movies, literature, and music, and many English words are even commonly used in other languages. While English grammar is quite basic when compared to other languages, as far pronunciation goes, the only constant seems to be variety. For example, while the words “cough,” “although,” “through,” “tough” have the same combination of letters at the end, they are all pronounced differently. Another example is “weak” or “steak,” which are also pronounced very differently. There are thousands of examples like these that sometimes make English difficult to translate. But why is this language so chaotic?
To understand the nature of this erratic but effective language, we must take into account the circumstances in which it has developed. It is commonly believed that English emerged around the fourth century when the Saxons, Jutes and Angles began to invade the British Isles, influencing the local languages, which are generally known as “proto-English” and “proto-Welsh,” in addition to a little Latin as well, a result of invasions by the Romans. As a result, there are many similarities between English and Germanic languages, such as German and Dutch, and as well as Scandinavian languages such as Swedish, Danish, etc.
The details are still debated and historians offer conflicting versions that differ regarding the order of who invaded and influenced the British territory first, or during which periods exactly, but the result is the same: the formation of the English language is a linguistic collage that has been influenced by different languages. It was precisely this difficult childhood that led English to establish itself as a language full of exceptions and less predictable rules than its sister languages in Europe. Still, English is continuing to expand and transcend borders. Learning it is like riding a bicycle- it seems complicated at first, but once you get going, it gets easier and easier.