Talk:English language

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Good article English language has been listed as one of the Language and literature good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.

Content moved from the phonology section[edit]

Regional variation in consonants[edit]

There are significant dialectal variations in the pronunciation of several consonants:

  • The th sounds /θ/ and /ð/ are sometimes pronounced as /f/ and /v/ in Cockney, and as dental plosives (contrasting with the usual alveolar plosives) in some dialects of Irish English. In African American Vernacular English, /ð/ has is realized as [d] word initially, and as [v] syllable medially.
  • In North American and Australian English, /t/ and /d/ are pronounced as an alveolar flap [ɾ] in many positions between vowels: thus words like latter and ladder /læɾər/ are pronounced in the same way. This sound change is called intervocalic alveolar flapping, and is a type of rhotacism. /t/ is often pronounced as a glottal stop [ʔ] (t-glottalization, a form of debuccalization) after vowels in British English, as in butter /ˈbʌʔə/, and in other dialects before a nasal, as in button /ˈbʌʔən/.
  • In most dialects, the rhotic consonant /r/ is pronounced as an alveolar, postalveolar, or retroflex approximant [ɹ ɹ̠ ɻ], and often causes vowel changes or is elided (see below), but in Scottish it may be a flap or trill [ɾ r].
  • In some cases, the palatal approximant or semivowel /j/, especially in the diphthong /juː/, is elided or causes consonant changes (yod-dropping and yod-coalescence).
    • Through yod-dropping, historical /j/ in the diphthong /juː/ is lost. In both RP and GA, yod-dropping happens in words like chew /ˈtʃuː/, and frequently in suit /ˈsuːt/, historically /ˈtʃju ˈsjuːt/. In words like tune, dew, new /ˈtjuːn ˈdjuː ˈnjuː/, RP keeps /j/, but GA drops it, so that these words have the vowels of too, do, and noon /ˈtuː ˈduː ˈnuːn/ in GA. A few conservative dialects like Welsh English have less yod-dropping than RP and GA, so that chews and choose /ˈtʃɪuz ˈtʃuːz/ are distinguished, and Norfolk English has more, so that beauty /ˈbjuːti/ is pronounced like booty /ˈbuːti/.
    • Through yod-coalescence, alveolar stops and fricatives /t d s z/ are palatalized and change to postalveolar affricates or fricatives /tʃ dʒ ʃ ʒ/ before historical /j/. In GA and traditional RP, this only happens in unstressed syllables, as in education, nature, and measure /ˌɛd͡ʒʊˈkeɪʃən ˈneɪt͡ʃər ˈmɛʒər/. In other dialects, such as modern RP or Australian, it happens in stressed syllables: thus due and dew are pronounced like Jew /ˈdʒuː/. In colloquial speech, it happens in phrases like did you? /dɪdʒuː/."

Regional variation[edit]

The pronunciation of some vowels varies between dialects:

  • In conservative RP and in GA, the vowel of back is a near-open [æ], but in modern RP and some North American dialects it is open [a]. The vowel of words like bath is /æ/ in GA, but /ɑː/ in RP (trap–bath split). In some dialects, /æ/ sometimes or always changes to a long vowel or diphthong, like [æː] or [eə] (bad–lad split and /æ/ tensing): thus man /mæn/ is pronounced with a diphthong like [meən] in many North American dialects.
  • The RP vowel /ɒ/ corresponds to /ɑ/ (father–bother merger) or /ɔ/ (lot–cloth split) in GA. Thus box is RP /bɒks/ but GA /bɑks/, while cloth is RP /klɒθ/ but GA /klɔθ/. Some North American dialects merge /ɔ/ with /ɑ/, except before /r/ (cot–caught merger).
  • In Scottish, Irish and Northern English, and in some dialects of North American English, the diphthongs /eɪ/ and /əʊ/ (/oʊ/) are pronounced as monophthongs (monophthongization). Thus, day and no are pronounced as /ˈdeɪ ˈnəʊ/ in RP, but as [ˈdeː ˈnoː] or [ˈde ˈno] in other dialects.
  • In North American English, the diphthongs /aɪ aʊ/ sometimes undergo a vowel shift called Canadian raising. This sound change affects the first element of the diphthong, and raises it from open [a], similar to the vowel of bra, to near-open [ʌ], similar to the vowel of but. Thus ice and out [ˈʌɪs ˈʌʊt] are pronounced with different vowels from eyes and loud [ˈaɪz ˈlaʊd]. Raising of /aɪ/ sometimes occurs in GA, but raising of /aʊ/ mainly occurs in Canadian English.

GA and RP vary in their pronunciation of historical /r/ after a vowel at the end of a syllable (in the syllable coda). 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 dialects are classified as rhotic or non-rhotic depending on whether they elide /r/ like RP or keep it like GA.

In GA, the combination of a vowel and the letter ⟨r⟩ is pronounced as an r-coloured vowel in nurse and butter [ˈnɝs ˈbʌtɚ], and as a vowel and an approximant in car and four [ˈkɑɹ ˈfɔɹ].

In RP, the combination of a vowel and ⟨r⟩ at the end of a syllable is pronounced in various different ways. When stressed, it was once pronounced as a centering diphthong ending in [ə], a sound change known as breaking or diphthongization, but nowadays is usually pronounced as a long vowel (compensatory lengthening). Thus nurse, car, four [ˈnɜːs ˈkɑː ˈfɔː] have long vowels, and car and four have the same vowels as bath and paw [ˈbɑːθ ˈpɔː]. An unstressed ⟨er⟩ is pronounced as a schwa, so that butter ends in the same vowel as comma: [ˈbʌtə ˈkɒmə].

Many vowel shifts only affect vowels before historical /r/, and in most cases they reduce the number of vowels that are distinguished before /r/:

  • Several historically distinct vowels are reduced to /ɜ/ before /r/. In Scottish English, fern, fir, and fur [fɛrn fɪr fʌr] are pronounced differently and have the same vowels as bed, bid, and but, but in GA and RP they are all pronounced with the vowel of bird: /ˈfɝn ˈfɝ/, /ˈfɜːn ˈfɜː/ (fern–fir–fur merger). Similarly, the vowels of hurry and furry /ˈhʌri ˈfɜri/, cure and fir /ˈkjuːr ˈfɜr/ were historically distinct and are still distinct in RP, but are often merged in GA (hurry–furry and cure–fir mergers).
  • Some sets of tense and lax or long and short vowels merge before /r/. Historically, nearer and mirror /ˈniːrər ˈmɪrər/; Mary, marry, and merry /ˈmɛɪɹi ˈmæri ˈmɛri/; hoarse and horse /ˈhoːrs ˈhɔrs/ were pronounced differently and had the same vowels as need and bid; bay, back, and bed; road and paw, but in some dialects their vowels have merged and are pronounced in the same way (mirror–nearer, Mary–marry–merry, and horse–hoarse mergers).
  • In traditional GA and RP, poor /pʊr/ or /pʊə/ is pronounced differently from pour /pɔr/ or /pɔə/ and has the same vowel as good, but for many speakers in North America and southern England, poor is pronounced with the same vowel as pour (poor–pour merger).

That map...[edit]

Current map is full of crap and far below what Wikipedia stands for. Just sayin'. Warm kisses, take care.Ernio48 (talk) 17:53, 2 July 2017 (UTC)

Thanks for the eloquent, detailed and constructive critique. It will be taken into account.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 18:17, 2 July 2017 (UTC)
I mean Croatia, Slovenia, really? And all those Germanic states are marked because they are Germanic? The legend is hard to understand. "official, but unofficial with cornflakes and additional ketchup"???Ernio48 (talk) 18:46, 2 July 2017 (UTC)
No, they are marked because more than half of the population speaks English (as a second language). The most recent EU statistics show that more than 50% of the population speak English in Croatia and Slovenia as well. I agree that the map is on the "over-informative" side, and perhaps could be better used in the main body of the article.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 19:11, 2 July 2017 (UTC)
Eurobarometer and other EU funded statistics are nothing but unreliable crap. Plus, old map that was used in this article was far less complicated and far more reliable. Some "pseudo-expert" replaced it with that multicolored, unreadable crap.Ernio48 (talk) 20:17, 2 July 2017 (UTC)
For convenience's sake, would you mind linking to the image you'd prefer? (I thought the warm kisses were a nice touch, btw. The pseudo-expert, less so.) RivertorchFIREWATER 21:14, 2 July 2017 (UTC) Ernio48 (talk) 22:47, 2 July 2017 (UTC)
Personally I almost reverted the new map when it was initially included, but then decided that I didnt care which map was used in the infobox. What I do find frustrating is the insane amount of drive-by major edits this article receives, by editors who apparently think that hardly any thought or research has been invested in it, and that therefore they need not make any justification for their edits at all. The article in general is the result of a collaborative process by more than a handful of editors who spent a lot of time researching the literature and selecting and organizing the knowledge. Calling official statustics of the EU "unreliable crap" without providing any evidence for why this is is such an infantile posture that it is hardly worth engaging. ·maunus · snunɐɯ· 00:48, 3 July 2017 (UTC)
So, the map. What about it?Ernio48 (talk) 16:15, 10 September 2017 (UTC)
I can make one by modifying the one I made for Germanic languages. Unless you insist the current one meets Wikipedia's qualities.Ernio48 (talk) 01:53, 29 September 2017 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────@Ernio48:, you may want to check out the supplement on silence and consensus. I would suggest that most editors who have this page on their watchlists (and there are 1,630 of them) are endorsing the current map by their silence. In the 90 days since you first raised the subject, it would appear that the established map has been considered unacceptable by exactly one editor, namely yourself. If you wish to keep trying to get consensus to change it, you are more than welcome to. Nobody can tell you not to (obviously unless there is disruptive editing). It seems unlikely, however, that you will get any more agreement in the next 90 days than you've gotten in the past 90 days. It's up to you, of course. Good luck. Eggishorn (talk) (contrib) 17:03, 29 September 2017 (UTC)

Nah, I won't be pressing this issue. Just proposed because, apparently, this map has a vague legend and, personally, I have a hard time understanding that legend (as do some other people). And also Croatia has a majority able to speak English? I mean....Ernio48 (talk) 17:12, 29 September 2017 (UTC)
It is entirely plausible that the majority of Croatians know English as a second language. In Croatian schools, 99.9% of students are taught a foreign language,[1] English is the most widely-taught foreign language and teaching English starts in first grade.[2] Just goes to show, you can't make assumptions about English's rapacious spread. Eggishorn (talk) (contrib) 17:44, 29 September 2017 (UTC)


  1. ^ Croatiaweek. "Croatian Kids Lead Europe for Foreign Language Learning". CroatiaWeek. Retrieved 29 September 2017. 
  2. ^ European Commission, Education and Training. "First European Survey on Language Competences - Final Report" (PDF). Retrieved 29 September 2017. 

Semi-protected edit request on 9 September 2017[edit]

Under Phonotactics

Change "four, as in texts /teksts/. This gives an English syllable the following structure, (CCC)V(CCCC)" to "five, as in angsts /ɑŋksts/ . This gives an English syllable the following structure, (CCC)V(CCCCC)" Lodgeh (talk) 12:50, 9 September 2017 (UTC)

Not done: please provide reliable sources that support the change you want to be made. Eggishorn (talk) (contrib) 20:21, 9 September 2017 (UTC)

Lodgeh -- the "k" in that word is inessential, pretty much due to phonetics. Whorf tried to use an obsolete verb form "thou triumphedst" [traɪʌmpftst], but the same objection applies... AnonMoos (talk) 14:25, 10 October 2017 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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typo in "Dialects, accents, and varieties" section[edit]

Hello, I noticed there is a typo in the beginning of this section, which now reads "Dialectologists identity many English dialects, ". "[i]dentity" should be changed to "identify". You can delete this comment once fixed. (talk) 20:20, 27 September 2017 (UTC) anon

 Done Thanks. Sundayclose (talk) 20:53, 27 September 2017 (UTC)
Except in extraordinary circumstances, talk-page comments are retained. RivertorchFIREWATER 15:12, 28 September 2017 (UTC)

preterit vs preterite[edit]

There appears to be some spelling inconsistency in the article. AnonMoos (talk) 14:19, 10 October 2017 (UTC)

Germanic dialects map[edit]

Archeological cultures

This map [1] needs to be removed because it peddles the same myths about the Germanic peoples that were circulated in the 19th and early 20th centuries. For one, how can you draw such clear borders between supposed ancient "Germanic" dialects if no written record of them exists?! Also, archeological evidence show a different picture all together, with many inhabited areas referred to as "cultures' because they can't be linked with certainty to any specific group of peoples. --E-960 (talk) 03:45, 1 November 2017 (UTC)

I would tend to agree – moreover, this map has absolutely zero source info (as so many maps in language articles on en.wp don't) so it can be removed as WP:OR and unverifiable. – filelakeshoe (t / c) 09:17, 1 November 2017 (UTC)


There are several problems with this sentence in the introduction:

"It is closely related to the Frisian languages, but its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by other Germanic languages, particularly Norse (a North Germanic language), as well as by Latin and Romance languages, especially French."

1. The "but" after Frisian languages makes the sentence sound as if one would assume that English should have been influenced by Frisian, just because it is most closely related to it.

2. English hasn't been significantly influenced by other Germanic languages but Norse.

3. There should be no brackets in the sentence.

4. English hasn't been significantly influenced by other Romance languages but French.

I therefore suggest this sentence:

"It is most closely related to other West Germanic languages like the Frisian languages and Low German/Low Saxon, but its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by North Germanic Norse, Latin, and Romance French. ArchitectMan (talk) 17:04, 3 November 2017 (UTC)

That sentence should imply that English has been influenced by Frisian because it's most closely related to it. Most closely related means that they were part of the same language, then a dialect continuum, more recently than English and other Germanic languages. Language contact is part and parcel of a dialect continuum. This is also the view of mainstream linguistics which groups English and Frisian in an "Anglo–Frisian" branch of West Germanic, so implying a closer relation than English has with Low German and Low Saxon. Bearing this in mind I think your reworded version is a little misleading. I agree on the brackets though and that the sentence is a bit long and clunky. My vote would be to reword it to "...its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by Norse, Latin and French." – filelakeshoe (t / c) 10:43, 4 November 2017 (UTC)
On second thoughts, maybe retain the "...and Romance languages, especially French." – in certain lexical sets, English has imported quite a lot of Spanish and Italian vocab, too. See List of English words of Italian origin and List of English words of Spanish origin, a lot of these are really common words. Also lots of Eurasian trade route jargon ultimately from Arabic, Persian and Turkish entered English through Italian. – filelakeshoe (t / c) 10:46, 4 November 2017 (UTC)

The first sentences of the introduction should inform about a) the countries in which English has the most native speakers: 1. USA, 2. UK, 3. Canada, 4. Australia, 5. South Africa, 6. Ireland, 7. New Zealand, b) which languages it is most closely related to: 1. Frisian, 2. Low Saxon/Low German, 3. German, 4. Dutch, 5. Afrikaans, and c) which languages its vocabulary has been most significantly influenced of: 1. French, 2. Norse. Since the introduction is very bad, i want to change it to:

English is a West Germanic language that evolved from Germanic dialects spoken by Anglo-Saxon tribes that settled in Britain. It derives its name from one of those tribes, the Angles, and thus ultimately from the Anglia (Angeln) peninsula in the Baltic Sea. It is the most commonly spoken Germanic language, accounting for at least 70% of speakers of this Indo-European branch, and is regarded as the global lingua franca. The countries with the most English native speakers are the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Ireland and New Zealand. English is most closely related to the other West Germanic languages of Frisian, Low Saxon/Low German, German, Dutch, and Afrikaans. Apart from Latin and Greek, the English vocabulary has been most significantly influenced by French, a Romance language, and by Norse, a North Germanic language. ArchitectMan (talk) 20:13, 24 November 2017 (UTC)

The map distinguishes between "unofficial" and "not official"?[edit]

What does this mean? Why aren't these in "Not official and minority"? What does "unofficial" mean that's different from "Not official"? I'm guessing there's a meaning that isn't being conveyed by the word "unofficial".Rob984 (talk) 10:36, 9 November 2017 (UTC)

This map is a mistake. For another discussion, see "That map" section above.Ernio48 (talk) 14:01, 11 November 2017 (UTC)

Infobox image[edit]

I'm not so sure that this addition enhances the article in any way. @Siddiqsazzad001: I'm curious to know your reasoning here. If we keep it, couldn't it at the very least be in Helvetica (preferably bold)? RivertorchFIREWATER 06:05, 10 November 2017 (UTC)

I agree, a map of Anglophone countries might add something to the infobox, a repetition of the text at the top does not. – filelakeshoe (t / c) 06:48, 10 November 2017 (UTC)
For comparison, Chinese language uses something similar, but I can only see it being useful to demonstrate it when the language symbols might not render on the page. Nihlus 06:54, 10 November 2017 (UTC)
Han characters not displaying correctly shouldn't be an issue any more. The pic on the Chinese article has some value though because it demonstrates the same word in three different orthographies. Japanese language has something too, which shows the kanji characters as they would be handwritten as opposed to typed - as the order and direction of strokes is important when writing Kanji it captures something. Having an image of "English" in a sans serif font when this is already available at the top of the infobox is not very useful. – filelakeshoe (t / c) 08:57, 10 November 2017 (UTC)
This is so dumb. Take it down.Ernio48 (talk) 14:10, 10 November 2017 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Per the above consensus, I've removed the image. - BilCat (talk) 14:30, 10 November 2017 (UTC)

Thanks. I think it's for the best. RivertorchFIREWATER 18:04, 10 November 2017 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request[edit]

please change: Old English originated from a Germanic tribal and linguistic continuum along the coast of the North Sea, whose languages are now known as the Anglo-Frisian subgroup within West Germanic. to: Old English originated from a Germanic tribal and linguistic continuum along the coast of the North Sea, whose languages are now known as English, Frisian and Low Saxon. (the Dutch Low Saxon dialects are dialects of the North Sea continuum too)Aaron1976 (talk) 08:23, 28 November 2017 (UTC)

@Aaron1976: Not done. We need a reliable source. Please see WP:RS for more. CityOfSilver 08:33, 28 November 2017 (UTC)
The current claim can't have a reliable source either because it's wrong.Aaron1976 (talk) 08:53, 28 November 2017 (UTC)
Nevertheless, we still need a reliable source for changing it. If the current text were blatantly wrong and unsourced, we could just remove it, but you appear to be suggesting more that it's incomplete. Please find a good source for the change you want to see. (The Anglo-Frisian languages article is tagged for inadequate sourcing, and I was unable to verify what you said by looking for a source used in that article.) RivertorchFIREWATER 17:52, 28 November 2017 (UTC)

Anglo-Saxon vs. French influence[edit]

I just read this very interesting research about the origin of the vocabulary of English. It turns out that the most commonly used words in English have an Anglo-Saxon origin, whereas less commonly used words tend to have a French and Latin influence more often. Unfortunately the Wikipedia article is protected, but maybe someone else wants to add this interesting result into this article in the future. (talk) 21:01, 9 December 2017 (UTC)

While interesting, it's basically a blog, and not scholarly research either, which is what is needed for a language article. - BilCat (talk) 21:21, 9 December 2017 (UTC)
any fule kno this, & it's in the article: "The most commonly used words in English are West Germanic.[207] 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 the Germanic words inherited from the earliest periods of the development of Old English.[13]" - in word origin. Johnbod (talk) 04:23, 10 December 2017 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 13 December 2017[edit] (talk) 19:30, 13 December 2017 (UTC)
Not done: it's not clear what changes you want to be made. Please mention the specific changes in a "change X to Y" format. —KuyaBriBriTalk 20:06, 13 December 2017 (UTC)