Fantastic Features We Don't Have In The English Language

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  • Published on: 31 May 2013
  • http://tomscott.com - @tomscott - There are lots of interesting features in other languages, some of which English would really benefit from having. I'm going to talk about four of them: time-independence, clusivity, absolute direction, and evidentiality.

    Also, I've learned from last week: no irritating piano music this time!

    UNESCO list of endangered languages: http://www.unesco.org/culture/languages-atlas/
  • Runtime : 4:
  • tom scott tomscott linguistics conjugation time-independence clusivity absolute direction guugu yimithirr evidentiality endangered languages language

COMMENTS: 40

  • new.
    new.   8 hours ago

    we need an absolute opposite of the word "improve", everybody start using deprove !!!!

  • depeje
    depeje   14 hours ago

    I vote for the encryption feature: The ability to speak privately in a crowded environment.

  • nuberiffic
    nuberiffic   21 hours ago

    3 is a bit wrong.We have that in English too; you even use them in the video.It's that the Aboriginal languages don't also have relative direction like English does.

  • Isa Maria
    Isa Maria   1 days ago

    Along the lines of the thing with we. English really also need a way to differentiate "you" as one person and as more people :)

  • Zel
    Zel   1 days ago

    Hey if some private people want to spend their own time and resources preserving dead languages I'm fine with that. As long as no public money goes toward it.

  • Adam Victor Nazareth Brandizzi

    The Pirahã language from an ethnic group from the Amazon basin has also a kind of absolute direction, but it is always related to the nearest river! This language is at the center of some controversy and the biography of one of its researchers ("Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes") is an amazing book, controversies aside.

  • Dwagin Con
    Dwagin Con   1 days ago

    adding features to the english language would be a lot easier if it were't so widespread already

  • אורלי י
    אורלי י   2 days ago

    Inclusive/exclusive "we" is fine, but singular/plural "you" seems more basic to me.

  • אורלי י
    אורלי י   2 days ago

    Related to many languages, I still haven't figured out what indefinite articles are good for (a/an for singular nouns in English, and in other languages such as French also for plural nouns).

  • jonnno100
    jonnno100   2 days ago

    "They dance." Time independant, no?

  • Eustathe
    Eustathe   2 days ago

    One European language features clusivity: Svan. Admittedly it is on the very borders of what is usually considered Europe, but perhaps the most fascinating of all European languages!

  • o hello there
    o hello there   2 days ago

    English is one of the easiest languages to learn, because it just makes sense in contruary to my language

  • Ritu Chandra
    Ritu Chandra   2 days ago

    1. non phonetic pronunciations: letters have different pronunciations in different words.(in those two words only you say the p, c and t in 2 different ways! this could have been easily avoided as in many languages like modifying the letter to change pronunciation instead)2. why do words have different meanings according to context?I can drink a can of coke.(can has two different meanings in the same sentence)A ship shipping ship, shipping shipping ships. (some of those ships means actual ships and other ships means to carry the ones which mean carry are highlighted: it means that a ship which carries other ships (a ship shipping ship), is carrying other carrier ships ( shipping shipping ships).)3. words that sound the same but mean different things. I accept all terms of your contract except the last one.(except and accept have the same sound)english is filled with these, there/their lose/loose.

  • Yama 123numbercauseYTdemandsname

    Something to differentiate between the next Saturday to come and the Saturday which comes next week (for any: day of the week, month, hour, minute etc.) would be nice.Also as a German I'd say we not only need to have different words for you informal singular, you informal plural and you formal. But also different words for you formal singular and you formal plural.And since I love physics and astronomy I would like to see a feature that combines the meanings related to space/direction and those related to time/time flow.

  • Isabella Hightower
    Isabella Hightower   3 days ago

    As someone who reads a ton of books, the idea that the Spanish language has punctuation marks at the beginning of each sentence makes it easier to infer how a sentence should be read. Wether it means your tone has to change or you should say the sentence with enthusiasm. It just makes it easier

  • BintKhadhir
    BintKhadhir   3 days ago

    In my language (a local dialect called Chimini) if you change the intonation of a verb you changes the pronoun and can become a question too

  • Aybala Tuana Uslu
    Aybala Tuana Uslu   3 days ago

    The only thing in English that tires me is gow are the sentences so long... in Turkish I just use a word to phrase that and in English it's sooo long. Like in Turkish if I wanted to say "Gidiyormuşcasına" in English it's something like " like (you) were going somewhere" takes so long to get to the point!

  • Eric Bundschuh
    Eric Bundschuh   4 days ago

    "Clusivity" as a concept is something I think about a lot, I'm glad someone else is too.

  • JohnEndless
    JohnEndless   4 days ago

    English should have formal speech like South Korea

  • sonicrashyugioh
    sonicrashyugioh   4 days ago

    No have á é í ó ö ő ú ü ű, and logical sentence for words.

  • v1e1r1g1e1
    v1e1r1g1e1   5 days ago

    Absolute direction....?   Imagine trying to get an army to march in step!

  • Darold Benitez
    Darold Benitez   5 days ago

    In Filipino language, the Inclusive "We" is "Tayo" and the Exclusive "We" is "Kami" Ex: "We're winners!" = either "panalo tayo!" or "panalo kami!"

  • Cece 17
    Cece 17   5 days ago

    5 seconds in and I’m now thinking about miraculous ladybug...

  • Isabel A.A.V
    Isabel A.A.V   5 days ago

    Portuguese is my mother language and it has somethings that English doesn't have. One of them is: in Portuguese we have two equivalent verbs for "to be" and the mean different things.

  • Leaf me alone
    Leaf me alone   5 days ago

    谢谢你 for complimenting my second language!

  • Novarcharesk
    Novarcharesk   6 days ago

    If languages die, they die. They are no more important to keep around than every species that has ever lived on Earth. Not everything will survive against all eventualities in nature, and nor should they. For us, IF there is some value to take out of a language, then we can study them, but if they become dead languages, nothing has been inherently lost.

  • Anushka Bakshi
    Anushka Bakshi   6 days ago

    That absolute direction was written like one direction. 🤣

  • Marijane Akuma
    Marijane Akuma   6 days ago

    how you experienced something: "so then I said" is different than "so then I was like" or even "so then I went all" - all different, very easyWhat the English language needs is consistency fOR ONCE

  • Fanamatakecick
    Fanamatakecick   6 days ago

    I’ve made a couple con-lang concepts that actually have an inclusive and exclusive we

  • hectobit
    hectobit   6 days ago

    What about the royal "we"?

  • Michiii245
    Michiii245   6 days ago

    Something that English desperately needs is a different way to speak to people you respect, like elders, strangers or teachers. In English there is only the word "you" to address everyone, but in many other languages, there are more polite ways of saying "you". Personally, I always feel uncomfortable calling teachers '"you" in English.

  • Eliza Racle
    Eliza Racle   6 days ago

    Why does Japanese have 6 words for wear is what I wanna know XD

  • featureEnvy
    featureEnvy   6 days ago

    I feel like one day the ways we express vocal inflections and mood in spoken English might one day end up becoming standardized parts of written/typed English...At least I hope that'll be a feature one day. Right now I can convey certain stuff by typing in caps lock, using an emoji, etc....But it would be cool if I could just change a word ending somewhere to convey the same idea or to emphasize a word. Sometimes you can do the latter with fonts, but a lot of times texting or commenting doesn't give you a bold or italic option and being able to add a diacritic would be the next best thing

  • Nash Potter
    Nash Potter   1 weeks ago

    English already has absolute direction. You said them in that section. North, east, south, west. Perhaps it's the other languages that need to adapt relative directions.