You need to be 10 years old or under to learn English grammar

That explains why I don’t understand English grammar. It seems like a complete mess to me, compared with Russian, German, or Turkish.

At the moment, there’s no link to the actual scientific study, but here’s a trailer. In English, the trailer comes in front - not afterwards, as you might expect.

I think it’s fair to say that you can speak English words in any order, in all the wrong tenses, voices, moods, and genders, and a native English speaker will still understand what you say.


OK, this later link seems to be have a lot more detail. The English is fairly easy to understand, so it can’t be the actual treatise - which must adhere to strict rules on incomprehensibility. The treatise was only published today.

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English is tricky. :slight_smile:

“Yesterday John wanted to won the race.”

“Did you went to the store?”

I’m not convinced that those things can’t be learned though. I have one friend who learned English later in life and he speaks and writes perfect English.

I believe that it has been known for many years that there is a sensitive period for language development. So, it seems a little weird that there was a concentration on grammar since grammar IS essentially language.

Part of what makes English grammar complex is the multiple redundancies, such as agreement between case and tense. One advantage of these redundancies, however, is that meaning can often be reconstructed when there is insufficient information written.

I do not think English is a language (I sometimes make outrageous statements to prove a point).

A thousand years ago, people in England spoke Olde English, a German dialect. But Latin was used for property and law.Then they were invaded by the French. It was not until 1731 that French ceased to be used as the official legal language in England and dog Latin was used until 1871 in England. In the year 1492 Oxford University discovered the Greek language, the students them demonstrated their superior education by misusing Greek words in English sentences.

The Oxford dictionary has 171k words in it that are in use, another 47k words that are obsolete. A native adult English speaker may know only 20k-35k words, a small subset of the English language. Lower class may be more likely to say safety from the German. Upper class is more likely to say security from the French and Latin. Well educated middle class is more likely to use Latin- Greek-English pidgin that came from Oxford. College graduates are more likely to use terms of art they learned in their respective schools. If you listen carefully to their speech, you can tell if they are lower, middle, or upper class, the region they are from, and the subjects they studied in school. Fluent ESL (English as a Second Language) requires a vocabulary of only 3k words, which happen to be the set of words that most every English speaker actually knows. By comparison, you can read nearly every thing written in classical Latin with a vocabulary of less than 600 words.

Learning Latin grammar is the foundation for learning English grammar. You have to learn enough Greek to be able to read the footnotes in the Latin texts. Then you have to study German to be able to read Goethe in olde English. Then you need to be able to read French, at least for Proust. I think it was Voltaire who said, “I think in French, therefore I am!”

Once you have done that, you need to review the 3k ESL words, all of which likely fall into one of the four preceding categories so you already know them, and you are a fluent English speaker.

Do you know which 600 Latin words are required? That would be an interesting memorization project.

Age limitations around learning seem more dramatic hypotheses than factual information to me…

As for the sequence of language learning, Latin seems more of a “foundation” for Italian, Spanish and French (what we call in Greek ‘λατινογενείς γλώσσες’ (literally meaning ‘languages born/descending from Latin’- latin languages).

English is a language that has many arbitrary (experiential?) words (like ‘knock’, ‘splash’, etc) and even more words that come from other languages… I think it would be hard to tell if knowledge of a particular language would be precisely useful for the knowledge of English grammar… To be sure, it would be useful to connect knowledge of other languages with English, yet it would serve as supplementary reinforcement, not as foundation to English…

My specialty is not linguistics; however, it seems to me that, as a study of language evolution, it doesn’t directly address the way to practically learn languages, but rather creates a theoretical map that allows for deeper understanding of the history and relations amongst the languages of the world.
But that’s just my opinion, of course.^^