The "English is harder" myth?

Subject: The "English is harder" myth?
From: "Geoff Hart" <geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Wed, 10 Nov 1999 09:09:51 -0500

Jonathan Soukup wondered <<I think almost everyone has heard
the phrase, "English is the hardest language to learn," but I've
never actually seen it in print. Does anyone know who said it or
where it is published? Is this something that we, as Americans,
have made up to make us feel better about ourselves?>>

Don't know about you Americans <g>, but I suspect that this is a
common observation worldwide among speakers of English. I don't
know who originally made this observation, and whether they
substantiated it with research, but it certainly fits with my personal
observations. Though it's true that the basics of English grammar
are fairly simple compared with the grammar of many other
languages, there are all kinds of weird subtleties that trip up non-
natives: the use of articles, spelling, pronunciation, idiom, a
multitude of synonyms from different languages, inconsistent use
of prefixes (e.g., everyone knows what disgruntled means, but what
about gruntled?), and so on. Complicating things is the fact that
English has a long and complex pedigree, with aspects of
grammar, usage, and word construction from Latin, Greek,
German, and French all mixed in willy nilly. Like any other hybrid,
that makes it a vigorous but complex thing to work with.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca (Pointe-Claire, Quebec)
"If you can't explain it to an 8-year-old, you don't understand it"--Albert Einstein

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