The Characteristics of English Language
Among the different languages of the world, English is the most widely spoken and written languages of the world. Today, English occupies the prestigious place of an International language. It is utilized by the largest number of the people of many nations in all the five continents in the world.
The reason, which comes to our notice is that, it is not due to the qualities of its own but there are important historical, political and economical reasons for its worldwide popularity. The other obvious reason is that English speaking nations, like England and America have made it prominent. However, no language can become so important, unless it has some outstanding and special characteristics for its phenomenal growth and popularity. The main characteristics for this stride of English language are as under:
1) Receptiveness 2) Heterogeneousness 3) Simplicity of Inflexion 4) Fixed Word Order 5) Use of Periphrasis 6) Growth of Intonation.
The first outstanding characteristic of English language is receptiveness. This is regarded as extra-ordinary feature of the language. It has accepted and adopted words from Asian, European, African, Indian, Japanese, Chinese and other languages. English has kept open-door policy of accepting words from classical languages like Latin, Greek and Sanskrit.
Heterogeneousness means mixed form or the lack of purity. English language contains words from so many other languages that it has become the most mixed language. Original words from other languages have crept into English. Some words have retained their original meanings and some words have changed their meanings. The spellings and pronunciations have also changed. E.g. The word ‘Tur’ from French has become ‘Tower’ in modern English.
3. Simplicity of Inflexion:
The next important characteristic of English is its simple Inflexion. Inflexion means that it can indicate the relationship of words into a sentence with only the minimum of change in their shapes. In this regard we can quote that Chinese has the minimum inflexions but in other European languages, there are still inflexion. However, English has lost number of inflexion. E.g. India – Indian.
4. Fixed word order:
Another characteristics of English language is its fixed word order. This arrangement becomes necessary for proper relationship of the words in a sentence, and to avoid ambiguity. The place of each word in a sentence decides its relationship to others.
5. Use of Periphrases:
In English language there is a very significant use of periphrases. Periphrases mean round about ways of expressing ideas or feelings in other words it is possible to say the something in many different ways in English. Periphrases is a very important quality of any language; because it makes the language rich and varied.
6. Development of intonation
The last but the significant quality of English is the great development of intonation to express different shades of meanings. Intonation can easily change the meaning of a sentence completely. Intonation can be described as the pitch and intensity or the tone of the voice.
Not all the above qualities or characteristics are necessarily good in themselves. Also all characteristics have not contributed equally to the development of English language and its general success.
C.L. Wren comments that : “It may fairly be said that English is among the easiest languages to speak badly; but the most difficult to use well”.