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English: One Mutt of a Language

When: Sat., April 8, 1-2:30 p.m. 2017
Price: Free
With Barry Evans. "…you've gotta ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?" Do you know where all Dirty Harry’s “do’s” came from? Well, do you? If you don’t, come find out why English is, in linguist John McWhorter’s phrase, “a bastard tongue.” Alone among its Germanic siblings in using “do” and the present progressive (“I’m writing”--why not, “I write”?), English betrays its messy upbringing in virtually every sentence we speak. But that’s not all! Proto-Germanic, the mother tongue of English, German, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish (and more), is itself a weird creature compared to its Indo-European relatives. I blame the Phoenicians…and just because they disappeared from history 2,000 years ago doesn’t make them any less culpable. Do you want more? Sure, how about the original Ur-language? We can do this.


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