But Professor John McWhorter explains why English is so different than other IndoEuropean languages. (headups FirstThoughts)
No genders for example, and the verb endings are few.
Why? Blame the Vikings.
plus spelling based on the way things used to be said, not how they are said nowadays, and of course, a vocabulary from many languages, so often we have the same equivalent word coming from French/Latin and AngloSaxon/Norse.
Old English had the crazy genders we would expect of a good European language – but the Scandies didn’t bother with those, and so now we have none. Chalk up one of English’s weirdnesses. What’s more, the Vikings mastered only that one shred of a once-lovely conjugation system: hence the lonely third‑person singular –s, hanging on like a dead bug on a windshield. Here and in other ways, they smoothed out the hard stuff.
BOOK TV interview HERE
Especially noteworthy here are the culinary transformations: we kill a cow or a pig (English) to yield beef or pork (French). Why? Well, generally in Norman England, English-speaking labourers did the slaughtering for moneyed French speakers at table. The different ways of referring to meat depended on one’s place in the scheme of things, and those class distinctions have carried down to us in discreet form today.
he has a series on lingusitics on the Teaching company...it was on Youtube but the copyright cops must of found it because I can't find it now, so you will either have to spend a lot of money or get it via your local library.
And for geeks, there is this:
another excellent podcast about language is Kevin Stroud's the History of English podcast.