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Language InterruptedSigns of Non-Native Acquisition in Standard Language Grammars$
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John McWhorter

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195309805

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195309805.001.0001

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The “Irritation” of Nuance

(p.59) 4 English
Language Interrupted

John McWhorter

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the difference between English and its sister languages. It shows that in the emergence of Modern English, simplification dominated complexification to a greater extent than in any other Germanic language. Evidence suggests that this simplification was not a happenstance peculiarity, but due to a sociohistorical hindering of the full transmission of its grammar across generations. English is significantly less complex overall than its sister languages, based on factors such as inherent reflexes, external possessors, directional adverbs, and indefinite pronouns.

Keywords:   English language, Modern English, simplification, Germanic languages, Afrikaans, complexity

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