English: time 4 a revamp?

Nothing so amazes me more than the fact, that despite so many other languages havie large governing bodies which analyze, stay on top of and make changes to their language in order to better fit the times, that English doesn't.

I think we should, especially as its reach extends across the globe.

If I could change the English language., then I would

- add an extra grammatical tense:  The "Ever Present" Tense
  • it annoys me somewhat to tell students to use the present for "habits, permanence, facts." If it's for all time, then there should be a specific tense that refers to this because for most people, present = now.

- I'd add two extra pronouns to reflect gender reality.
  • heshe and shehe

- I'd also love to revamp spelling entirely to make it better reflect the way words sound
  • if the ch sounds like an sh, it should be an sh
  • regular past tense endings are a waste of time teaching.  Why not write workt not worked, filld not filled - loaded can stay loaded.

What do you think?  Any bug-bears you've noticed while teaching our fair language?  What would you change if you could?


image credit
Teaching an old dog new tricks by Fouquier on Flickr

6 Responses to “English: time 4 a revamp?”

  • Unknown says:
    February 13, 2012

    This natural instinct to "reform" and "correct" English has a long, seldom successful history. If Noah Webster failed and the Oxford English Dictionary have dramatically tilted to description from prescription, why should we embark on that quixotic journey?

    Instead of selecting and empowering some government agency to watch our language, I'd rather celebrate the creativity of artists, welcome slang, and elevate the language. As far as the need for gender pronoun, the easier - and most popular solution is just to make those sentence plural. While offending the grammar purists (who seldom welcome language changes or reforms anyway), American politicians and media celebrities have long mainstreamed its use. As the American poet and folklorist Carl Sandburg noted, "slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands, and goes to work." I'd suggest that we could say the same about global English today.

    February 13, 2012

    Hmmm, just because one or two or ten or twenty-five people fail at something isn't a reason to stop trying, generally :-).

    I should clarify, I don't see the need for it to be government directed per se, when I refer to a "governing body," this could be (would more likely to be successful) if made up of the artists you mention... and now that today English is so global, I'd fight for it to be made up one person from every nation in the world.

    Personally I reckon we're heading for Babbel, if we don't and if we don't clean it up (one war, one massive disease will end all that hard work) ...and I'm just not sure why we continue to hang on to so many archaic structures - nostalgia?

  • Leo says:
    March 04, 2012

    Don’t you think it would be rather difficult to set up a governing body (like l'Academie Francaise for French) for a language that is not confined to one country and whose reach, as you say, extends across the globe. Or was it meant to be tongue-in-cheek? :)

  • Illya Arnet says:
    March 07, 2012

    Personally, I. Ink it's a brilliant idea.. However, I considering it doesn't really work with a language like Germany, and where they have a tradition in setting the language, and I am don't have much hope.
    On the other hand, I with the powers that be online, die perhaps we are already seeing a change and simplication in English.
    Example at hand- writing on tablets!

  • Fred Henke says:
    May 19, 2012

    Interesting thoughts!
    I always imagined the language developed naturally and the dictionarys just followed up - not the other way around.

    But I do agree with you on one point, just because a few have failed we shouldn't give up!

  • ESL in Houston says:
    August 05, 2012

    I have one small change I'd like to make to the English language (although I love the author's suggestion about making all the words ending in -ed phonetic). Many of the world's major languages drop the pronoun after it becomes understand who or what the subject is. In English, we continue to use the pronoun over and over. Let's join the rest of the world and start dropping our pronouns!


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