Languages Are Similar And Different.

Languages are alike and yet they are different, because the people who speak to them are alike in their human capacities yet different in very many ways. In the very broadest sense, all languages share some common features, yet language learners can be surprised that a new language does not express things in the same way as their native language. On the other hand, discovering similarities between a new language and learner’s native language is a relief. A new language can have same sounds as learner’s native language, but they are pronounced in completely different ways. Let us take English, French and Spanish which all have sound p. In English this sound is pronounced with a slight puff of air, while in French and in Spanish the air is released gradually. All languages have different ways of modifying nouns. In some languages the modifier precedes the noun, but in other languages the modifier follows the noun. Let us take English and Spanish. In English we say big house¬†but in Spanish the normal sequence is casa grande. English, Spanish and Russian have words to express presence or existence. In English and Russian we have one verb that means to be, while in Spanish there are two verbs estar and ser. In Russian the verb to be in the present tense is omitted, while in English and Spanish it is not omitted. Words in our native language come to us so automatically that we rarely think of their relationship to the reality we connect them. The English verb to know¬†seems so natural to us English language speakers that we assume all languages have the same concept. Unfortunately, many languages distinguish between recognizing people and things one hand and knowing about something on the other. Spanish has two verbs conocer and saber and so does French connaitre and savoir. Another example is the English word hot which refers to temperature of the air (weather); temperatures of various substances (coffee, water, soup); and degree of spiciness of foods (pepper). In Russian a different word for hot would be used in each of the three mentioned situations, and the English phrase hot soup would be very unclear.

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