I was born in America, so I don’t see the problem with the language. But someone visiting from a foreign country, trying to learn American for the first time, might find it difficult. Even something as simple as adding a short ending to a word can be confusing for a newcomer.
Take a word like ginger. Ginger is a noun—a thing—the name of a spice.
“That’s it, right?”
Um, not quite. Let’s look at it more, closely.
I contend the American language is simple—verbs for action and nouns to take the action.
Besides, it’s not really our problem. All languages trace back to Adam and Eve and the generations of their family.
Eve hit Adam. He probably deserved it, according to my wife.
Everything was simple and straight forward. They had many base words to choose from: car, house, and potty. Most people got these and everyone was happy.
Then someone decided we needed to spice things up, add some variety. I guess it was hard to talk about the neighbors, over the back fence, without more descriptive words, and “Oy Vey” was way overused.
We had perfectly good words back in the day; we were communicating effectively; we understood each other.
“So why add endings.”
I suppose plural endings were needed as we humans must be able to describe multiples of things. It probably started when Adam kept bringing home only one egg for breakfast from the grocery.
“I took your list. It said EGG. I did what you said—get egg!”
Despite the plural issue, things were pretty good for a couple of millennium. Then, somebody, probably an out of work Olde English teacher, decided we needed something more, and so the ly endings was created. It means nothing by itself, but add it to a base word and BLAM, a word explodes with meanings.
Daniel Webster probably started rubbing his hands together at the thought of having words with more than one meaning; he could sell Edition 2 of his dictionary.
Let’s look at an example of this new ly ending: If you are bad, it means you are not nice. Add ly and it means you are acting, well, badly—not nice— in action. Very clear. The pattern was set.
Okay, Mr. foreigner, isn’t that easy; let’s try it on our word ginger. I’ll start.
“Hi, I’m Ginger.”
Now isn’t that’s silly. Ginger is the name of a spice not the name of a person.
If that’s not confusing enough, add the ly and you get the word—gingerly—meaning softly. According to the pattern, it should mean spicy-like, though.
“No, you tricked me because you used the word ginger as a woman’s name.” The foreigner clasped his arms tightly across his chest.
“No, I was referring to the dog we named Ginger.”
“Because of the dogs color?”
“No, because my wife wouldn’t let me name her, Woof. I go for the basics in naming pets, and it was better than the name I really felt the animal deserved for turning my slippers into a doggie dodo station.
It’s claimed that the ly ending was invented by an heir of the original Adam. The ending was well accepted and the Adam’s family got a lot of fan mail requesting other endings—and some beginnings. Adam and his family went on to invent many more endings and finally turned it into a business. It was decided, to be professional, they needed a theme song for their new venture. They decided to kept it simple. They would just sing, “The Adam’s Family,” over and over, and all of them would snap their fingers.
“Will it take a long time to learn your language?” He looked at his watch. “Are there a lot of endings?”
Dear, foreigner, we need to talk!