Depending on who you speak to, there are currently anywhere between 1500 and 2000 million English speakers in the world. That’s a discrepancy of 500 million people. The obvious question is: Why does such a discrepancy even exist? There are a couple of big reasons and many smaller ones. For now I’ll stick to the big ones. Continue reading “Problems Defining the Number of English Speakers in the World”
It might seem redundant to define the features of a language, but languages are rarely so easy. We can define English, French and German, but what about Swedish and Norwegian? Swedish and Norwegian are mutually intelligible; people from Sweden and Norway can talk to each other and understand each other with little difficulty.
As you might expect, Oasis’s 1994 debut album Definitely Maybe has got me thinking about epistemic modality. That’s because epistemic modality expresses degrees of certainty. “As you might expect…” is epistemic. It expresses how confident I am that other people think listening to Oasis makes me think about grammar (i.e. not very confident). “As you will expect…” would be more confident. But it would be misplaced. And weird: it would sound weird. But that’s not the point. The point is the degree of confidence. Continue reading “Definitely Maybe: Epistemic modality and saying nothing about something”