50 Reasons Why English Is The Most Complicated Language

You may say Chinese, Latin, whatever...

I'm not disagreeing that those are extremely difficult languages to learn (and in some sense, may be the hardest), but I have no desire or need to learn any of those languages right now. As a Texan, I think I'll find most benefit out of trying to re-learn my 4 years of Spanish skills from high school. Como se llama? (Obviously I'm advanced...)

I may be a "lone wolf" on this theory, but English seems to be one of the most popular languages LEARNED around the world -- I didn't say most well-known or most popular languages by volume. Mandarin Chinese blows all other languages out of the water, but China is obviously much bigger than America by population.


What I am saying is that English a very commonly learned language in countries all over the world. Every country I've personally been to so far (13 and counting), there's always been people who speak English. Maybe it's because Americans (and Asians) are said to be the most common "tourists" in other countries. What can I say... we love to travel the world!

Anyway, there are 14 "umbrella" terms why I think English is the most complicated language to learn.

Here's my pre-article synopsis: America is THE most diverse country in the world. Diverse in cultures, ethnicities, races, languages (due to new immigrants who haven't learned English yet), religions, economic classes, and so on. This is why we have so many different variations, terms, accents, and slang words throughout English speaking countries -- which makes English extremely complicated. But we still expect everyone to know English, since it's the predominant language in America. Come on, people!

Disclaimer: I'm not saying that other countries do not have this problem, too. Of course there's slang, possibly some different accents within the same language, and even diversity within other countries. But America is different. In my opinion, it's more diverse on all multiple different realms. I'll explain why...

Here are the 14 "umbrella" terms (before getting into the specific examples) on why English is the most complicated language:
  1. Slang and Idioms
  2. "Generational" Terms
  3. Dialects and Accents
  4. Commonly Mispronounced Words
  5. Commonly Misspelled Words
  6. "Texting" Language and Acronyms (NetLingo)
  7. Paradoxes
  8. Words That Sound The Same, But Have Different Meanings
  9. Words That Look The Same, But Can Have Different Meanings
  10. Many Synonyms For Each Term
  11. Words That Only Exist In Certain Areas Of The Country - Culture Differences
  12. Differences In The English Language Vary Across Countries: America, Canada, Britain, and England (Focus on UK vs. USA)
  13. Newly Created Words That Become Common Lingo
  14. And last but not least....things that just don't make sense in the English language, but you have to know them anyway.
Let's take a step further (even if it takes all 50 reasons to prove my point). Here's a few examples for each "umbrella" term:

Slang and Idioms
"Generational" Terms
  • Groovy! (awesome, 1960's)
  • Totes stoked (totally excited, 2010's)
  • YOLO (you only live once, 2010's)
  • Epic fail (wow that was stupid, 2010's)
  • Photobomb (when someone interferes in a photo unexpectedly, 2000's)
  • Cray (crazy, 2010's)
  • Swag (being or having something cool, 2000's)
  • Rachet (obnoxious or acting like a diva, 2010's)
  • For more, go to: http://huff.to/TZKIpP
Dialects and Accents
Commonly Mispronounced Words
Commonly Misspelled Words 
(...what would we do without spell check?)
"Texting" Language and Acronyms (a.k.a NetLingo)
  • LOL (laugh out loud)
  • SMH (shake my head)
  • OMW (on my way)
  • BTW (by the way)
  • ROTFL (roll on the floor laughing)
  • *Face palm* (gesture for embarrassment or shame)
  • For more, go to: http://bit.ly/v1D8C
Paradoxes
  • Boxing rings are square.
  • A guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
  • Quicksand can work slowly.
  • It's the beginning of the end.
  • Bittersweet
  • I'm nobody.
  • "Save money" when you spend it (sales at stores).
  • Deep down, you're really shallow.
Words That Sound The Same, But Have Different Meanings
  • Their, they're and there. 
  • Effect and affect
  • Full and fool
  • Fill and feel
  • Right and write
  • For more, go to: http://bit.ly/8XLph3
Words That Look The Same, But Can Have Different Meanings
  • "Wise man" and "wise guy"
  • Overlook and oversee
  • Tear (rip, or cry)
  • Lie (lie down, or untruth)
  • For more, go to: http://bit.ly/aRtnJf
Many Synonyms For Each Term
Words That Only Exist In Certain Regions Of America
  • Y'all (Southern, 'you all')
  • Fixin' (Southern, 'about to', 'going to', or 'making')
  • Brah (California, 'bro' or 'dude')
  • For more in Southern, go to: http://bit.ly/uY1NR
  • Schlep (New York, awkward clumsy person)
Differences In The English Language Across Countries
(focus on UK vs. USA)
  • Bloody (US = actual blood, UK = bad word)
  • Chips (US = crispy deep fried snack, UK = fries)
  • Bum (US = homeless person, UK = butt, bottom)
  • Butt (US = bottom or when someone interferes, UK = cigarette or to strike bluntly)
  • Coach (US = sports team leader, UK = nice charter bus for long journeys or horse carriage)
  • Geezer (US = old man, UK = gangster, man)
  • For more, go to: http://bit.ly/10Age3S
Newly Created Words That Become Common Lingo
Things That Just Don't Make Sense In The English Language
  • We ship things by car, but send cargo by ship.
  • We have noses that run, but feet that smell.
  • We fill in a form by filling it out.
  • An alarm goes off by going on.
  • When the stars are out, they are visible. But when the lights are out, you can't see them.
  • Teachers taught, but preachers praught?
  • Why do we say "heads up" when we actually duck?
  • Why is America the only country to not use the metric system, measures time in 12 hour increments (not 24 hour), measures speed by miles per hour (not kilometers), and adopt the Daylight Savings time change?
  • Why is it illegal to park in a handicap parking spot, but okay to use the handicap toilet stall?
  • Why do we go "back and forth" to town when you must go forth before you can go back?
  • Why do grades go from A, B, C, D, and F? Where is the E?
  • Why do we call it a "pair of jeans" when there is only one?
  • Why is "W" called double-u when it's a double-v?
  • Why is it called "chicken fingers" when chickens don't have fingers?
  • Why do we park on driveways, and drive on parkways?
  • Why is the person who invests all your money called a Broker?
  • Why is a person who plays the piano called a pianist, when a person who drives a race car not called a racist?
  • Why does fat chance and slim chance mean the same thing, but wise man and wise guy are opposites?
  • And I could keep going on....and on.....and on....
Did I mention "sarcasm" was also commonly used in English?

And you wonder why new immigrants have difficulty learning good English...

Let's just say I'm glad English was my first language.

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