The Great Vowel Shift was a series of changes in the pronunciation of the English language that took place primarily between 1400 and 1700, beginning in southern England and today having influenced effectively all dialects of English. Through this vowel shift, the pronunciation of all Middle English long vowels was changed. Some consonant sounds changed as well, particularly those that became silent; the term Great Vowel Shift is sometimes used to include these consonant changes.
English spelling began to become standardized in the 15th and 16th centuries, and the Great Vowel Shift is the major reason English spellings now often considerably deviate from how they represent pronunciations. The Great Vowel Shift was first studied by Otto Jespersen (1860–1943), a Danish linguist and Anglicist, who coined the term.
E-Prime (short for English-Prime or English Prime, sometimes denoted É or E′) is a version of the English language that excludes all forms of the verb to be, including all conjugations, contractions and archaic forms.
Some scholars advocate using E-Prime as a device to clarify thinking and strengthen writing. A number of other scholars have criticized E-Prime's utility.
- "E-Prime – English without the verb “to be”" | 2021-05-26 | 108 Upvotes 66 Comments
- "E-Prime English" | 2021-02-25 | 10 Upvotes 5 Comments
- "E-Prime: English without the verb 'to be'" | 2015-12-07 | 221 Upvotes 152 Comments
- "English-Prime - English without "is"" | 2009-01-05 | 108 Upvotes 76 Comments
"Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" is a grammatically correct sentence in American English, often presented as an example of how homonyms and homophones can be used to create complicated linguistic constructs through lexical ambiguity. It has been discussed in literature in various forms since 1967, when it appeared in Dmitri Borgmann's Beyond Language: Adventures in Word and Thought.
The sentence employs three distinct meanings of the word buffalo:
- as a proper noun to refer to a specific place named Buffalo, the city of Buffalo, New York, being the most notable;
- as a verb (uncommon in regular usage) to buffalo, meaning "to bully, harass, or intimidate" or "to baffle"; and
- as a noun to refer to the animal, bison (often called buffalo in North America). The plural is also buffalo.
An expanded form of the sentence which preserves the original word order is: "Buffalo bison, that other Buffalo bison bully, also bully Buffalo bison."
- "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" | 2023-09-07 | 178 Upvotes 95 Comments
- "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" | 2023-06-24 | 17 Upvotes 4 Comments
- "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" | 2023-05-22 | 19 Upvotes 5 Comments
- "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" | 2020-02-10 | 29 Upvotes 19 Comments
- "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" | 2018-11-06 | 18 Upvotes 6 Comments
- "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" | 2016-05-08 | 52 Upvotes 17 Comments
- "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" | 2010-02-03 | 174 Upvotes 69 Comments
Attempto Controlled English (ACE) is a controlled natural language, i.e. a subset of standard English with a restricted syntax and restricted semantics described by a small set of construction and interpretation rules. It has been under development at the University of Zurich since 1995. In 2013, ACE version 6.7 was announced.
ACE can serve as knowledge representation, specification, and query language, and is intended for professionals who want to use formal notations and formal methods, but may not be familiar with them. Though ACE appears perfectly natural – it can be read and understood by any speaker of English – it is in fact a formal language.
ACE and its related tools have been used in the fields of software specifications, theorem proving, text summaries, ontologies, rules, querying, medical documentation and planning.
Here are some simple examples:
- Every woman is a human.
- A woman is a human.
- A man tries-on a new tie. If the tie pleases his wife then the man buys it.
ACE construction rules require that each noun be introduced by a determiner (a, every, no, some, at least 5, ...). Regarding the list of examples above, ACE interpretation rules decide that (1) is interpreted as universally quantified, while (2) is interpreted as existentially quantified. Sentences like "Women are human" do not follow ACE syntax and are consequently not valid.
Interpretation rules resolve the anaphoric references in (3): the tie and it of the second sentence refer to a new tie of the first sentence, while his and the man of the second sentence refer to a man of the first sentence. Thus an ACE text is a coherent entity of anaphorically linked sentences.
The Attempto Parsing Engine (APE) translates ACE texts unambiguously into discourse representation structures (DRS) that use a variant of the language of first-order logic. A DRS can be further translated into other formal languages, for instance AceRules with various semantics, OWL, and SWRL. Translating an ACE text into (a fragment of) first-order logic allows users to reason about the text, for instance to verify, to validate, and to query it.
A garden-path sentence is a grammatically correct sentence that starts in such a way that a reader's most likely interpretation will be incorrect; the reader is lured into a parse that turns out to be a dead end or yields a clearly unintended meaning. "Garden path" refers to the saying "to be led down [or up] the garden path", meaning to be deceived, tricked, or seduced. In A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Fowler describes such sentences as unwittingly laying a "false scent".
Such a sentence leads the reader toward a seemingly familiar meaning that is actually not the one intended. It is a special type of sentence that creates a momentarily ambiguous interpretation because it contains a word or phrase that can be interpreted in multiple ways, causing the reader to begin to believe that a phrase will mean one thing when in reality it means something else. When read, the sentence seems ungrammatical, makes almost no sense, and often requires rereading so that its meaning may be fully understood after careful parsing.
O novo guia da conversação em portuguez e inglez, commonly known by the name English as She Is Spoke, is a 19th-century book written by Pedro Carolino, with some editions crediting José da Fonseca as a co-author. It was intended as a Portuguese–English conversational guide or phrase book; however, as the "English" translations provided are usually inaccurate or incoherent, it is regarded as a classic source of unintentional humour in translation.
The humour is largely a result of Carolino's indiscriminate use of literal translation; this causes many idiomatic expressions to be translated ineptly. For example, Carolino translates the Portuguese phrase chover a cântaros as "raining in jars", when an analogous English idiom is available in the form of "raining buckets".
It is widely believed that Carolino could not speak English, and that a French–English dictionary was used to translate an earlier Portuguese–French phrase book, O novo guia da conversação em francês e português, written by José da Fonseca. Carolino likely added Fonseca's name to the book without his permission in an attempt to give it some credibility. The Portuguese–French phrase book is apparently a competent work, without the defects that characterize English as She Is Spoke.
The title English as She Is Spoke was given to the book in its 1883 republication; this phrase does not actually appear in the original phrasebook, nor does the word "spoke."
Initial-stress derivation is a phonological process in English that moves stress to the first syllable of verbs when they are used as nouns or adjectives. (This is an example of a suprafix.) This process can be found in the case of several dozen verb-noun and verb-adjective pairs and is gradually becoming more standardized in some English dialects, but it is not present in all. The list of affected words differs from area to area, and often depends on whether a word is used metaphorically or not. At least 170 verb-noun or verb-adjective pairs exist. Some examples are:
- as a verb, "Remember to recórd the show!".
- as a noun, "I'll keep a récord of that request."
- as a verb, "I won't permít that."
- as a noun, "We already have a pérmit."
- "Initial Stress-Derived Noun" | 2021-05-22 | 215 Upvotes 160 Comments
A 2019 report by the National Center for Education Statistics determined that mid to high literacy in the United States is 79% with 21% of American adults categorized as having "low level English literacy," including 4.1% classified as "functionally illiterate" and an additional 4% that could not participate. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 54% of adults in the United States have prose literacy below the 6th-grade level.
In many nations, the ability to read a simple sentence suffices as literacy, and was the previous standard for the U.S. The definition of literacy has changed greatly; the term is presently defined as the ability to use printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and potential.
The United States Department of Education assesses literacy in the general population through its National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL). The NAAL survey defines three types of literacy:
- prose literacy: the knowledge and skills needed to search, comprehend, and use continuous texts. Examples include editorials, news stories, brochures, and instructional materials.
- document literacy: the knowledge and skills needed to search, comprehend, and use non-continuous texts in various formats. Examples include job applications, payroll forms, transportation schedules, maps, tables, and drug and food labels.
- quantitative literacy: the knowledge and skills required to identify and perform computations, either alone or sequentially, using numbers embedded in printed materials. Examples include balancing a checkbook, figuring out tips, completing an order form, or determining an amount.
Modern jobs often demand a high level of literacy, and its lack in adults and adolescents has been studied extensively.
According to a 1992 survey, about 40 million adults had Level 1 literary competency, the lowest level, comprising understanding only basic written instructions. A number of reports and studies are published annually to monitor the nation's status, and initiatives to improve literacy rates are funded by government and external sources.
- "54% of adults in the United States have prose literacy below the 6th-grade level" | 2021-12-29 | 166 Upvotes 207 Comments
A thought-terminating cliché (also known as a semantic stop-sign, a thought-stopper, bumper sticker logic, or cliché thinking) is a form of loaded language, commonly used to quell cognitive dissonance. Depending on context in which a phrase (or cliché) is used, it may actually be valid and not qualify as thought-terminating; it does qualify as such when its application intends to dismiss dissent or justify fallacious logic. Its only function is to stop an argument from proceeding further, in other words "end the debate with a cliche... not a point." The term was popularized by Robert Jay Lifton in his 1961 book Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, who called the use of the cliché, along with "loading the language", as "The language of Non-thought".