Did you know? Things the English Language Lacks

Posted by

There is no right. There no left. Come to think of it, in the Guugu Yimithirr language, there’s no forward or backward either.

English is one of the most diversified languages in the world. But, some people speak and use languages extremely differently than English speakers. Speaking in strange and unique ways that allow them to convey ideas in a whole new style.

Relative Direction is a principle English speakers use constantly. This allows them to communicate based on the situation. Such as saying, “the cat is behind you.” The previously mentioned Guugu Yimithirr language (which is spoken by some Australian Aboriginal peoples) uses Absolute Direction.

Absolute Direction uses North, South, West, South East, ect. According to Lauren Gawne of Superlingo.com a person using Absolute Direction would have to say, “move a little to the north,” to convey a direction of movement. Even if these people are in an entirely foreign place, they can still naturally find the cardinal directions more times than not.

Gawne notes how, “speakers need to be constantly attuned to what direction (they’re facing), and in learning their language their brains learn to deal with that requirement.”

Other languages also let the user manipulate time. In English when someone is doing an action like running we must state the time; one must say they had been running or they are running. In Chinese that’s not necessary as the same verb can be used in the past, present, and future.

Finally, imagine this. Tom says, “we are going to the movies.” What does Tom mean? How many people are going to the movies? It could be just you and Tom going to the movies. However, Tom could just as easily mean that a few people are going to the movies with him.

Vietnamese, Mandarin Chinese, and Hawaiian use Clustivity to overcome this. Languages with Clusivity have we and other first-person pronouns in the inclusive or exclusive form.  For instance, Tom would use the inclusive we if Tom was heading to the movies with you. If Tom was going with a group of people and not you, then the exclusive we would be used instead.

Languages determine how people perceive the world. The very way a certain population thinks being predicated on the grammar structure of their native tongue. Opening up new ideas that are extremely difficult if not impossible to conceive in regular English. However, many of these unique ways of thinking are under threat.

The Linguistic Society estimates that in the next century eight percent of the world’s languages will go extinct. A wealth of knowledge and new ideas vanishing into thin air; as many of these languages are learned from speaking it and have not been written down.

English can learn a lot from other languages. Learning to think in these other languages will help open up new ideas and perspectives. It forces speakers to be aware of certain details of their environment that speakers of other languages aren’t required to think about.  Language is the way we see the world and sometimes getting a different view is good.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *