Archive for February 3rd, 2012

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Rant about Contractions

February 3, 2012

Posted by Kanga.

beach, green bush, and the Arabian gulf

This picture was taken in Ras Al Khaimah. It isn’t related to what follows, but I liked it and just thought I’d post it for your viewing pleasure.

I work with students who are learning the English language as a second language. 100% of the students, not just a small percentage. I have no training in teaching English as a first or second language. As a librarian, teaching the language is not my task, but in attempting to get the students to read English materials, I cannot escape some of the challenges of learning the language.

I’ve always known that English is a difficult language full of exceptions to the rules. I before E, except after C, and a lot of other exceptions like weird, forfeit, vein, etc.

This week it was contractions – can not into can’t, are not into aren’t, etc. Being someone who probably thinks too much, I began to ponder why do we do this in this manner and who decided that the laziness of speech should be noted in written form. Why not just write “cant” and “wont” and “arent” and “wouldnt”, etc. I suppose because some of these would be confused with other words, like cant and wont, although context ought to indicate which meaning is appropriate. And, why not spell woodnt and shoodnt? Why bother with “ould” which is not very phonetic.

It is no wonder that Globish is becoming so prevalent. Arabic, for example, lacks definite and indefinite articles. It seems perfectly natural to say “Miss, I want pen” instead of “Miss, I need a pen.” Actually, it is often just “Miss, pen” or “pen.” There is also “Miss, I want paper.” Which really means “I need a piece of paper” not “I need a ream of paper.”

[Correction - there is a definite article in Arabic - Al. I should know better than to write about things I don't really know about.]

 

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