How Weird Is English?

How Weird Is English?

One of the things that has attracted me to learning Spanish (from junior high classes three decades ago to a month of language immersion in my future) is that pronunciation is very straightforward. There’s no ambiguity or trickiness to pronouncing a word like “guacamole” or “felicidades” or “Isla Mujeres.” I find myself feeling empathetic to those learning English. How does one learn to pronounce dough, bough, cough, tough and draught? Turns out English isn’t that weird. Some really smart guys at Idibon have created a Weirdness Index. An excerpt:
The language that is most different from the majority of all other languages in the world is a verb-initial tonal languages spoken by 6,000 people in Oaxaca, Mexico, known as Chalcatongo Mixtec (aka San Miguel el Grande Mixtec). Number two is spoken in Siberia by 22,000 people: Nenets (that’s where we get the word parka from). Number three is Choctaw, spoken by about 10,000 people, mostly in Oklahoma. But here’s the rub—some of the weirdest languages in the world are ones you’ve heard of: German, Dutch, Norwegian, Czech, Spanish, and Mandarin. And actually English is #33 in the Language Weirdness Index.
And what are the least weird languages in the world? Start with Hindi and go from there. (image h/t celalteber)
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