I feel so bad for people who try to learn English. Our English vocabulary is so limiting at times. The Eskimos have numerous names to describe snow, but we have one unless you consider “slush” a synonym for “snow”, and I don’t think most people in America would. Unless you want to consider the addition of adjectives to the snow as a new word. “Dadgum freakin snow”, “Stupid icy daggone snow”, “Hate this blankety blank snow”, or “I love snow, it’s so soft and squishy” Sorry courtesy, of the child in my brain.
The Hebrew and Greek languages each have several words for “love”, depending on the depth and type of love expressed. We have one. “I love you”, “I love the 3 stooges”, “I love hamburgers”, “I love snow, it’s soft and squishy”. Not exactly equitable is it?
Spanish has masculine and feminine versions of words, “El , La, profesor, profesora, amigo, amiga”. In English we have words like ‘the”, “friend”, and “professor” that are non gender specific, requiring additional words to specify gender. “Dr. Jones is my professor. She is a hag.” That clarifies things nicely. Or “Dr. Johnson is a pigheaded male chauvinist” also is a good way to explain things to avoid the whole gender confusion thing.
We also have multiple meanings and pronunciations that mix up linguists from around the world. They may be doctors and lawyers in their native country but struggle with English pronunciation and rules of grammar. I don’t blame them for getting frustrated and giving up. Many of our native English speakers gave up long ago. Just listen to your neighbors and see what you hear. It is amazing.
For example: Homonyms are words that sound alike but have different meanings. “Mean” can indicate that someone is cruel (He’s mean), or it can represent an average number (the mean is 18.6), or it can convey the intent of a message (what do you mean?).
“Did you mean to sound mean when you told us the mean?” See what I mean? Sorry. Was that mean? Dangit! I didn’t mean to be mean. Moving on.
Pronunciation rules regarding vowel combinations can be murder on a new speaker of English. For example: “Tough” sounds like “tuff”, but so does stuff, enough, and rough. “Trough” sounds like “troff”, but so does cough. “Through” sounds like “threw”. “Dough” sounds like “doe”
How about this?
A doe ate some dough and threw up through the hole in the trough. Did the doe climb through the hole or was the whole trough full of holes? It was tough to know whether the doe plugged the whole trough or just the hole with the dough. Oh by the way, there was a do-do sitting in the trough, looking at the doe through the hole, eating whole doughnut holes. It was rough stuff seeing the doe eating the dough. Is that enough? Now I need to cough.
Do you hear the screaming? Or is it just me? No wait. “Is it just I? or “Eye” or “Aye”?. See what I mean?
“Mean? What do you mean?
Oh no! Not that again.