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On the Brighter Side

Hail We All To The “Mother Tongue”

What is the “Mother Tongue?” Probably it would be regarded as the language our parents used and passed on to their children. To me English is my Mother Tongue. Really? About 80 percent of entries in any English dictionary have roots mostly in Latin with some also rooted in ancient Greek. What about German? English is said to be Germanic in origin and not considered a Romance language, but what about the sprinkling of French, Dutch and even some Italian? Yes, all of these languages have added words to everyday English. That is what is so wonderful about our Mother Tongue. Over time many new words are added to our vocabulary with modern technology and also slang expressions. I think even “ain’t” is now found as a slang word in modern English dictionaries.

All very confusing, I think we would agree, but it is not the hardest language to learn. Mandarin Chinese wins that distinction. However, English must be confusing to those studying English as a second language. Dare we mention Pidgen English, or the dozens of regional dialects. It is still English whether the accent is southern, northern, western, country or spoken in Boston or New York City where Brooklyn, the Bronx, Harlem, and the nearby New “Joisy” accent are the commonly spoken English.

Even more confusing is the use of homophones, (or is it homonyms?) that may appear in the same sentence. For example:

“The little boy ate eight cookies.”

“The board members looked bored.”

“If I sell stolen jewels I will soon be locked in a cell.”

“The heir of the farm enjoyed the fresh air.”

“The driver hit the brakes before a break occurred.”

“Crying aloud is not allowed.”

“I used my right hand to write this article.”

…and so on and so forth which would fill several pages.

Confusing as modern English is, I still love the richness of it and the ever changing words and phrases and additions that are such fun to write and play with. From Shakespeare to rap it will always be my “Mother Tongue.”

Contributed by Marilynn Goodwin